Customers Have No Real Stake in Platform Wars

Opinion: With its Component Assembly, Siebel Systems is launching its own front in the platform wars even as it is about to be assimilated into Oracle's Project Fusion infrastructure.

Siebel Systems, while waiting to close the buyout deal with Oracle Corp., has become the latest enterprise resource planning software company to join the application platform wars.

The Siebel Component Assembly is the product of Project Nexus, the companys three year effort to provide a CRM (customer relationship management) development and integration platform based on SOA (service-oriented architecture).

The goal of the this platform is to give corporate CRM users the tools to quickly build applications and components that respond to customers rapidly changing needs at the business process and feature level.

But the problem with this or any other application integration and development platform is that they always seem to be works in progress.

As a result, they rarely seem to deliver the promised return on investment.

Thats because before these platforms never have a chance to prove they can mature into stable, productive systems before their developers and the market have shifted their focus to some other technology.

Such platforms have often by described by critics as little more than "marketectures," that provide a way to sell what turns out to be a jumble of poorly integrated components and applications.

The Component Assembly, which observers have described as analogous to SAPs NetWeaver application development platform, will allow developers to create and assemble CRM components into Web services based composite applications that will be able to run on Java 2 Enterprise Edition and Microsoft .Net application servers.

Hosted, on demand application services, including Siebels own CRM On-Demand offering, were supposed to simplify the purchase and delivery of enterprise applications, such as CRM, document and content management, human resources management, supply chain management and many others.

These application services, including Siebel CRM on Demand, Salesforce.com, and RightNow Technologies have all presented themselves as champions of small and midsize companies that dont want to spend huge amounts of money to buy on-premise enterprise resource planning suites.

/zimages/7/28571.gifClick here to read about Siebel CEO George Shaheens speech to customers calling on them to stick with the companys CRM technology through the Oracle buyout transition.

One of the key advantages of dealing with hosted application services is you dont necessarily have to buy a lot IT overhead along with the business applications that you really want to use.

But now Salesforce.com and Siebel have introduced application production and integration platforms with the goal of bringing a large crowd of customer and third-party developers into their tents and keeping them focused on their technology to the exclusion of competitors.

Producers of server-based on premises enterprise applications are even greater proponents of application integration platforms.

SAP with its NetWeaver application development platform or Oracle with its Fusion strategy are two of the most prominent examples.

Next Page: Joining the platform wars.

John Pallatto

John Pallatto

John Pallatto has been editor in chief of QuinStreet Inc.'s eWEEK.com since October 2012. He has more than 40 years of experience as a professional journalist working at a daily newspaper and...