University takes a pass on Oracle after ERP lawsuit settlement

Montclair State will switch to Ellucian in a three-year, US$13 million deal

Roughly a year after settling an ugly, protracted legal battle with Oracle, Montclair State University is planning to implement a rival vendor's ERP (enterprise-resource-planning) system.

The New Jersey school has inked a deal with Ellucian, maker of the Banner ERP system for higher education, according to an announcement this week. Ellucian is the company formed in 2012 through the merger of SunGard and Datatel.

MSU had originally planned to install Oracle's PeopleSoft Campus Solutions product, but it sued the vendor in May 2011, alleging that due to serious mistakes on Oracle's part, the project would end up being up to US$20 million over budget. Oracle countersued, calling Montclair's lawsuit a "scorched earth" campaign aimed at covering up the school's own failings on the implementation.

After battling it out in court for nearly two years, Oracle and MSU announced they had "amicably resolved their dispute" and were "looking forward to the future of their relationship."

It now appears one of the parties was looking forward to it more than the other.

"At one point in our administrative systems replacement project plan, Montclair was going to implement the PeopleSoft Campus Solutions system to manage student information," MSU spokeswoman Suzanne Bronski said via email on Thursday. "Upon further consideration of the University's business needs the Ellucian Banner solution was preferred."

Bronski declined to say whether Oracle and the school still have any relationship at all. Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger declined comment.

Banner will replace Plus Student Information System, another Ellucian product. MSU's board has approved about $13 million for a three-year contract with Ellucian that will provide software, implementation services and maintenance, according to Bronski.

MSU and Ellucian have a history of working on projects that spans 30 years, according to a statement. "Under the latest agreement, Montclair State will take advantage of several Banner programs aimed at improving student success with solutions that personalize the student experience."

It remains to be seen how successful the Banner project is for MSU. But the software itself may end up proving a better fit for the school's needs, according to one observer.

"Banner is a classic system purpose-built for the education market," said analyst Ray Wang, founder and chairman of Constellation Research. "It's more tailored than PeopleSoft Campus. The software was designed for higher education from day one. PeopleSoft Campus was verticalized for higher ed."

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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