Ellison praises Siebel’s SOA efforts at customer event

As part of a multi-vendor partnership with BEA Systems, IBM and Microsoft, dubbed “Project Nexus,” Siebel Customer Adaptive Architecture runs on both .Net and J2EE platforms, allowing customers and partners to develop and integrate custom-built CRM apps in a heterogeneous environment. Siebel Customer Adaptive Architecture is one component of Siebel Customer Adaptive Solutions – a strategy that allows organizations to better understand and adapt to the needs of their customers in real time.The software company unveiled the new strategy at its CustomerWorld conference, which attracted 2,600 attendees – a 13 per cent increase in attendance from last year. The future of “Project Nexus,” however, is somewhat clouded following Oracle Corp.’s announcement last month that it plans to acquire Siebel for US$5.85-billion. The deal, which is expected to close early next year, allows Oracle to gain customers and expertise in the CRM market in a bid to better compete against its largest rival, SAP.
In a pre-recorded video shown to thousands of attendees during the opening keynote, Oracle chief Larry Ellison expressed his enthusiasm for Siebel’s work on the SOA front. “Siebel has been the pioneer of CRM,” said Ellison. “Those apps will be foundation for Oracle CRM. We’re excited about what Siebel is doing with its SOA. It dovetails beautifully what Oracle’s doing with (Project) Fusion.”
Project Fusion is Oracle’s roadmap for combining its acquired products — PeopleSoft, J.D. Edwards and now Siebel — with existing Oracle applications. Details on how Nexus will fit into Fusion, however, have yet to be worked out.
In a press Q&A session, Siebel chief executive officer George Shaheen said while he’s encouraged by Ellison’s comments there’s, “still a lot of the devil in the detail there.”
Originally poised to take centre stage at this year’s conference, SOA took a backseat thanks to Oracle’s takeover bid. Despite recent events, Shaheen said until the deal closes, Siebel will continue to release its on demand, business intelligence and core CRM products.
“We are committed to providing you the solutions for your customers to be the focus of all your efforts,” Shaheen told conference attendees. “Both Siebel and Oracle share a common interest in the customer. This combination will produce more innovation in technology leadership to continue to provide you with a business advantage.”
OnDemand users concerned
Despite Ellison’s and Shaheen’s assurances, some members of Siebel’s customer base, which totals 3.7 million users worldwide, have expressed concern that the acquisition could eliminate Siebel OnDemand. Siebel’s senior vice-president and general manager of products Bruce Cleveland told reporters that Oracle has made a strong commitment to OnDemand and currently doesn’t have a multi-tenant offering like Siebel.
“The opportunity to merge the two different skill sets together with Oracle’s ability to deliver single tenet is a powerful capability,” said Cleveland. “Complementary skill sets make it better for our customers, old and new.”
Canadian customers, while cautious when speaking about the deal, are, for the most part, relatively confident that the acquisition will be an easy and smooth one compared to that of PeopleSoft, which was a product of a long and hostile takeover war.
“Obviously as a customer this worries me,” said Kelly Lam, CRM manager at BMW Canada Inc., describing his initial reaction to the news.
“We believe Siebel follows best practices in the CRM platform. Oracle has other products to supplement (it). Hopefully Oracle keeps Siebel as their CRM platform.”
Both following the announcement and at this year’s Oracle OpenWorld, Ellison stressed the database giant’s commitment to making Siebel CRM the centrepiece of its CRM offering. Oracle’s recent spending binge, however, has reportedly had some customers concerned that Ellison is merely doing it to grab market share in a bid to compete with Germany-based enterprise resource planning market leader SAP.

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