While Oracle has remained, out of necessity, relatively quiet about its plans with Siebel Systems, some details are starting to emerge.
Oracle is expected to close the acquisition of CRM (customer relationship management) software developer Siebel on Jan. 31. The company has said publicly it will base its next-generation suite of CRM applications—Fusion CRM—on Siebels technology, but precious few details have come to light beyond that.
In a recent interview with eWEEK, John Wookey, senior vice president of application development, provided additional insight. Oracle is looking closely at incorporating several Siebel technologies, including its on-demand capabilities and some functionality from Siebels Project Nexus composite application framework.
Commercially dubbed Component Assembly with its release in October 2005, Nexus brings a common AJAX-based design pattern that Oracle has been moving toward, but that Siebel had advanced. It also brings some design capabilities Siebel developed in concert with Microsoft.
“One of the things thats very important for the future is [the capability of] skinning an application. Theres a capability weve been focused on called DHTML interface, which is kind of like Java scripting, but is an AJAX principal,” said Wookey. “Microsoft has been building much more of a whole rendering kit around that in Nexus, and we think that is a very attractive option that we want to have in the [Fusion] architecture.”
Wookey is also looking forward to incorporating Nexus development team learnings into Fusion.
Nexus, which is very similar in composite application development functionality to Oracles Fusion Middleware, provides an underlying Foundation Workbench that includes a repository and editor tool that lets users create and modify meta data-driven components into composite applications. The workbench can import and export Web services from a number of different development environments—as can Fusion Middleware—for use in composite applications.
The platform runs on .Net and J2EE application servers—whereas Fusion Middleware runs on Oracles J2EE application server—a result of Siebels Nexus development work with BEA Systems, IBM and Microsoft.
Siebel also has some significant on-demand expertise that Oracle is looking to tap.
“One thing that Siebel has done is they have a separate code line around their on-demand business and they iterate very fast,” said Wookey. “Were going to keep that code line around CRM. Were going to continue to support it.”
Oracle expects to maintain Siebels Contact OnDemand capability as well. It enables Siebel CRM OnDemand users to deploy relatively inexpensive telephony software as part of their CRM infrastructure. The resulting virtual contact center enables customer service representatives to work anywhere.
Siebel acquired hosted telephony infrastructure provider Ineto Services for $5 million in January 2004. That companys software is the basis for Siebels Contact OnDemand offering, a business Siebel started last year.
“Were going to continue to iterate those code lines,” said Wookey. “Well adopt it to the Fusion architecture, but we actually think theres a reason why [Siebel] did that [line of business], and why they wanted to go more quickly.”