Oracle released version 9 of its PeopleSoft Enterprise application suite on Monday, an upgrade the company said will prepare customers to move toward a service-oriented architecture (SOA).Oracle, which secured a US$10.3 billion buyout of PeopleSoft in January 2005, has told its customers it would continue to support the products from its former competitor. The new release is integrated with Oracle\u2019s Fusion Middleware, a portfolio of server software that allows applications from different vendors to interoperate. The integration allows better use of other Oracle technologies including XML Publisher, Business Activity Monitoring and Customer Data Hub, the company said.Oracle said the version 9 release adds features related to corporate governance and compliance, CRM improvements for customer service agents and enterprise-level planning. The company also expanded capabilities for areas such as the public sector, health care, financial services, communications and higher education.Oracle appointed a new general manager, Doris Wong, to run its PeopleSoft Enterprise wing, a move it said would centralize leadership and development of the product. Wong spent 11 years at PeopleSoft, Oracle said.PeopleSoft was one Oracle\u2019s highest-profile acquisitions intended to help it compete better with business applications market leader SAP. It also gobbled up Siebel Systems and J.D. Edwards, sparking concerns over the fate of those vendors\u2019 product lines. But Oracle officials have pledged to move forward with new product releases, including Siebel\u2019s version 8 line and version 12 of Oracle\u2019s own CRM software.Oracle executives recently offered some details of how its various application suites will be merged into the forthcoming Fusion family. Siebel\u2019s software, seen as one of the strongest CRM offerings in the industry, will be used as the core, to be merged with the best functions and design elements donated from Oracle\u2019s E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft CRM and JD Edwards CRM.Oracle has stressed that Fusion will be developed with an eye toward the SOA model, working with standards such as business process execution language and XML.The Fusion applications are expected in 2008. \u2014 Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service (London Bureau)Related Links:\n\nOracle: Open Source Brings New Customers\n\nOracle\u2019s Q4 Results to Top ExpectationsCheck out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.