Siebel Systems Inc. last week surprised some industry observers when it revealed the fruits of its 4-year-old Project Nexus development effort.
Rather than the anticipated componentization of its CRM (customer relationship management) applications, the San Mateo, Calif., company announced that Nexus, now called Component Assembly, is instead an SOA (service-oriented architecture)-based development and integration platform that lets users orchestrate CRM components based on business processes.
Siebels Component Assembly platform is similar to SAP AGs NetWeaver and Oracle Corp.s Fusion Middleware. All three platforms allow users to build composite applications using an underlying middleware platform that supports application components. Now that Oracle is acquiring Siebel—saying publicly that Siebels CRM software will be the foundation for Oracles Fusion CRM—the question remains: What will Oracle do with Component Assembly?
"Adopt it," suggested J.R. Jesson, chief technology officer of Electronic Data Systems Corp.s Applications and Industry Frameworks Portfolio, in Plano, Texas. "And look at what components would align with Fusion. We have a strong belief in Fusion Middleware, but Siebel is near ready for prime time."
One key element of the Fusion Middleware architecture is defining the customer model and then using that to define XML interfaces for Web services, according to Joshua Greenbaum, principal of Enterprise Applications Consulting, in Berkeley, Calif.
"Oracle is going to have to say, This is how we are defining the customer record, and every one of those [records] will have to be deeply integrated with Fusion—thats a lot of work," said Greenbaum.
While Oracle, of Redwood Shores, Calif., has said the addition of Siebel will not change the expected 2007 delivery timeline of Fusion, the reality is that adding Component Assembly to the mix will likely slow the process. Charles Phillips, co-president of Oracle, has said the Siebel acquisition will likely not close until early next year, which means Oracle will have to wait until at least January before it gets its hands on Siebels code.
Fundamental changes in ERP (enterprise resource planning) are prompting similar changes in the CRM sector, with vendors working to provide composite application platforms and componentized applications.
Sage Software Inc., of Newcastle upon Tyne, England, for example, announced last week a complete realignment of its CRM efforts. Sage is creating a global development center and integrating its on-demand and on-premise CRM software.