PeopleSoft’s Brilliant Move

PeopleSoft made a brilliant move this week when they announced their strategic alliance with IBM. PeopleSoft is obviously under attack from Oracle. IBM has simultaneously been positioning themselves as the ultimate middleware player via their WebSphere products.

IBM’s software strategy is to be complementary to enterprise application software providers rather than competitive to them. I got an email from IBM’s VC group about the PeopleSoft deal that said “Importantly, today’s announcement remains consistent with the software strategy you have become accustomed to when working with IBM and exemplifies the type of relationship we strive to achieve with our business partners. We remain firmly committed to building best-in-class middleware and leading the industry in platform innovation. Because of our focus on building middleware in an open standards environment, we continue to build relationships with a broad range of partners in the industry. We will continue to openly seek new ways to collaborate with you to develop an ecosystem that delivers profitable returns for IBM and all of our business partners, as well as maximum return to clients for their IT investments. “

With one move, PeopleSoft says another “fuck you” to Oracle, IBM deeply reinforces their position in the enterprise application ecosystem, and the two companies stir up the enterprise application consolidation pot a little more.

I watch this carefully because we have a number of enterprise application investments. One of my infrastructure software companies – Newmerix – provides software to help optimize packaged application change and quality – PeopleSoft is their key partner and they just announced a deeper relationship with them. Our view is that the chaos and uncertainty in the enterprise app market – while bad for customers – is good for infrastructure software companies like Newmerix and – as the ultimately consolidation plays out – good for our companies that can get in the mix before the music stops.

One of my friends and co-board members (an entrepreneur that knows the big players in the enterprise app market well) dropped me a note post PeopleSoft / IBM announcement that said “I think this is a precursor to an acquisition announcement – IBM+PSFT. Then the real consolidation begins – Oracle + Siebel, MSFT + SAP.” Oracle, PeopleSoft, IBM, Microsoft, SAP, and Siebel certainly have an interesting chess game going.