PeopleSoft and Ascential: What's In It for Users

From a no-cost conversion program to new versions, the companies explain the user benefits.

When PeopleSoft Corp. severed ties last month with long-time ETL partner Informatica Corp. and cemented a new pact with Ascential Software Corp., a crucial question remained unanswered: What’s in it for the users?

It depends on which company is doing the talking. Informatica, for example, argues that PeopleSoft made the move based largely on a can’t-miss offer from Ascential, which, on top of the core data integration technology at issue, bundled a number of extra goodies that Informatica felt it couldn’t match. But these extras come at a price, claims Ron Papas, senior vice president of alliances and business development with Informatica, who says that the new arrangement needlessly complicates things for existing users.

“There’s a whole range of customizations that have to take place, at least that’s what we’re hearing from our customers,” he claims, noting that PeopleSoft is also asking its customers to upgrade to the Ascential technologies today, without waiting for the next major release of EPM, which is planned for later this year. “If you think about that, someone that’s been implementing EPM takes typically eight to twelve months to implement. So to actually ask someone to go and do that all over again and get no value-add, even if it’s free, that’s a lot [to ask].”

Tobin Gilman, director of Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) product marketing for PeopleSoft, disputes this claim, pointing out that PeopleSoft and Ascential have introduced a no-cost conversion program—customers can ship their repositories to an off-site conversion facility—and noting that feedback from users who have participated in the program has been encouraging. “We have a couple of customers that are already in the program, and we have a number of other customers that have indicated that they want to move into the program,” he comments. “It doesn’t seem to be a huge endeavor at all. They send in their [repositories], we do their conversions, ship it back, [and] send a consultant onsite to help them with their test.”

More to the point, Gilman claims, users are enthusiastic about the new features outside of traditional ETL that Ascential brings to the table. “They’re very much aware and recognize the additional value that it brings, and we’ve been very proactive in the communication aspects of it. We’ve done a series of communications with them including advisor calls and Webcasts.”

For example, Gilman says, PeopleSoft will ship version 8.9 of its Enterprise Performance Management suite in the fourth quarter of this year, which will incorporate metadata management technology from Ascential.

In addition to metadata management, says Mark Register, vice-president and chief marketing officer with Ascential, the agreement provides PeopleSoft customers with access to data quality and data profiling tools that weren’t available as part of PeopleSoft’s long-time agreement with Informatica. “They can get access to the full range of different products in the future that they have to get from other organizations right now,” Register says. “There’s the metadata management, but we can touch the data quality, the data profiling, there’s a whole range of other areas that in the future they will be using.”

PeopleSoft’s Gilman also dismisses claims that it partnered with Ascential was made to the detriment of customers based on price considerations alone. In fact, Gilman claims, the products that Ascential put on the table were a better fit for PeopleSoft’s customers.

“We’ve seen the world of data integration evolve from what was primarily ETL to a broader set of requirements, we’ve seen customers working with more voluminous amounts of data, [and] we’ve seen customers become more interested in assuring the quality of their data and understanding source systems, in reducing the total cost of ownership, and maintaining data warehouses. So this really is all about what our customers needed to do,” he concludes.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.