FrontRange Solutions Inc. and Salesnet Inc. are using Microsoft Corp.s .Net Web services architecture to provide data integration capabilities to their respective CRM and sales applications.
The software is expected to make available many of the same capabilities as Microsofts namesake customer relationship management software up to a quarter earlier than Microsoft CRM will ship.
FrontRanges new suite of applications, code-named Orion and built on .Net Framework, will feature enhanced interoperability with Microsoft Office applications, including its Exchange messaging server and Outlook messaging client. In addition, Web services support in Orion, due this fall, will enable users to integrate it with other business applications in a customers environment, said Patrick Bultema, CEO of the Colorado Springs, Colo., company. "That integration can be a troubling thing to do today," said Bultema. "[Orion] integrates with Exchange the same as Outlook does."
Separately, Boston-based Salesnet last week released a beta version of its Web Services API. The software, which is also built on .Net Framework, promises easy integration between the companys Salesnet Extended sales force automation hosted software service and other CRM applications, officials said. Salesnet Web Services API will be available this quarter as part of the companys Extended offering.
Orions capabilities, and to some degree Salesnet Web Services APIs, are virtually identical to features Microsofts Great Plains division has claimed for Microsoft CRM, which is due next quarter.
Daniel Lewin, Microsofts vice president for .Net business development, said .Net Framework would enable a so-called real-time enterprise and pointed to the Redmond, Wash., companys Microsoft CRM product, which the company said will be the first business application fully built in .Net. Lewin said the .Net-centric world Microsoft envisions will cut down on costly, lengthy software implementations and system integrations.
Not all IT managers are sure that the .Net integration vision will be easy to achieve. "Im not sure how easy XML is going to be to implement with our current software and databases," said Tim Muir, an analyst in the database management and business analysis department at Hewlett-Packard Co., in Littleton, Mass. "Wed have to rebuild everything so that its XML-based. I dont know how feasible that would be."