Oracle has released the next iteration of its PeopleSoft Enterprise CRM. The company had outlined its plans for the software early last month.

The company said that the rollout, version 9.0, was the most significant release since Oracle bought its one-time software rival. Among the enhancements are tighter links to Oracle's next-generation Fusion middleware, based on SOA, and modifications aimed at the financial services and communications industries, according to Oracle.

The latest version supports 19 new web services that allow for better integration with third-party software and other features such as the ability to convert a web page direct to a service.

Additional new functions include links with Oracle XML Publisher to help manage document exchange, and integration with the Business Process Manager, which is based on the Oracle Business Process Execution Language (BPEL), and is designed to help companies craft and deploy workflows over disparate systems.

The application is largely targeted at the existing PeopleSoft CRM installed base rather than potential new users, said John Webb, vice president of enterprise application strategy at Oracle.

Currently, Oracle is treating Siebel software, which the company acquired last year, as its default CRM suite for prospects.

Webb said usability was a major demand from PeopleSoft customers, and Oracle modified the software to reduce the number of keystrokes users need to complete repetitive tasks, he said.

One PeopleSoft CRM 8.9 shop that offered Oracle its input during the development of 9.0 is already planning an evaluation with a potential rollout.

Among the software's most attractive features is its ability to dynamically change the user interface for case management, said Audrey Bledsoe, CRM craft team leader at DePaul University in Chicago. Bledsoe said that the case management feature can present a different on-screen view depending on the end user's role, supporting different processes for different departments.

The new SOA enhancements, along with Oracle's Fusion middleware, will make it easier to integrate 9.0 with DePaul's other non-CRM applications, including the school's PeopleSoft ERP software, Bledsoe said. The application could be rolled out in the second quarter of 2007, she said.

The launch of PeopleSoft 9.0 should reassure current customers that the software will be further developed and supported and could reduce any interest in alternative software, said William Band, an analyst at Forrester Research.

Companies are generally interested in getting the most from their past investment in CRM, and the new release addresses that need, he said.