Teaming for a Vertical Play

Peoplesoft's CRM alliance with Sun goes into niche market, but limits partners.

While many software vendors are hitting the skids, PeopleSoft is bracing for a softer landing with its recent release of a Java-based CRM solution thats aimed at two specific vertical markets.

To that end, PeopleSoft has inked an alliance with Sun Microsystems to jointly market and sell its CRM solution running on Solaris 8. That solution is targeted at the communications and financial services sectors, strong markets for both PeopleSoft and Sun, industry analysts say.

"I think what theyre both doing is theyre both targeting verticals where theyre both strong," says Nicole Gallant, analyst at International Data Corp.

The two companies will collaborate on marketing, sales and engineering efforts, working with existing customers and taking aim at Fortune 1000 firms.

Restrictions As of now, the product offering will be available only to a handful of larger integrators.

The two companies will use Suns Professional Services Organization for the technology implementation and PeopleSoft Consulting for the application implementation.

"We will work with several large consulting firms on business process, change management and strategy consulting to further assist in the deployment," says Bill Parsons, VP of PeopleSoft alliances, but no specific companies were mentioned.

The new endeavor takes PeopleSoft and its business applications in ERP, CRM, and supply-chain management solutions a step closer to its priority this year to develop more customer-facing solutions.

Staying Neutral "We understand to be effective, companies must approach CRM as a strategy that requires software, scalable hardware and a robust infrastructure," says Robb Eklund, VP for product marketing at PeopleSoft CRM.

Company executives say Sun holds the top hardware vendor spot and PeopleSoft has a 43 percent share in the communications industry for enterprise applications. But is that enough to support their combined solution in the current economic turmoil?

"Regardless of what the equitable markets are doing, these partnerships are invaluable," notes Josh Greenbaum, principal at Enterprise Applications Consulting in Daly City, Calif. "CRM is a market in its infancy. It has a long way to go."

Meanwhile, Sun already has existing relationships with other CRM software vendors, including E.piphany, but insists that it will remain platform-neutral in its CRM endeavors.

"Our focus is to be very aggressive with multiple partners," says Doug Kaewert, senior VP of market development at Sun. "This doesnt affect our platform neutrality. We will still work with our other partners and still do interesting things with them."