Oracle's knockdown, drag-out battle for control of enterprise software rival PeopleSoft left many wondering what the future would hold for longtime PeopleSoft customers if Oracle got its way. Oracle did win the final round, of course, and with its recent update of PeopleSoft Enterprise Financial Management 8.9, the company has revealed more about its plans for all its customers–new and old.

The first message is that Oracle has committed to maintaining existing PeopleSoft (and J.D. Edwards) products, including making patches, fixes and regulatory updates available for five, or in some cases six, years after release. Version 8.9 contains many enhancements, including improved visibility and automated management over cash balances and a new centralized framework for electronic payments. Oracle says there will be at least one more update of the product.

But in the minds of Oracle executives, there is also clearly an end in sight to this coddling of non-Oracle customers–although no one will be forced kicking and screaming to Oracle. The evidence: the "migration path" that Oracle has in the works, which will eventually help move both Oracle users and PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards users onto a more sophisticated and flexible system. The centerpiece is Oracle Project Fusion, an ambitious open standard-based architecture built on a service-oriented architecture (SOA) platform. SOA allows for superior integration among a variety of computer systems and environments, permitting more seamless data transfers and communications. The full Project Fusion rollout isn't expected until next year at the earliest. "[Customers] will look at Project Fusion and decide when it's time to migrate to it," says Richard Rodgers, vice president of application product strategy for financials at Oracle. "But we've given them ample time to make that decision by extending support for existing releases."

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