Siebel Systems Inc. Wednesday publicly renewed its commitment to Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Java-based framework for facilitating interoperability.
The announcement, made at Siebel's Worldwide User Conference in Los Angeles, comes on the heels of Siebel's news Monday that it will support Microsoft Corp.'s rival framework for delivery of Web services, called .NET.
Although the alliance between Microsoft and Siebel is not exclusive--Siebel also has high-profile deals with IBM and Hewlett Packard--Chief Executive Tom Siebel said of the Microsoft deal, "It may well be the most significant [deal] in the history of the software industry."
Siebel plans to invest nearly $250 million in development and marketing of .NET as a platform for its CRM applications. And under the terms of the alliance more than 200 engineers from each of the two companies will work together to conduct benchmark tests and to integrate and cross-certify Siebel applications with Microsoft's software. The alliance includes collaborative development, global marketing, advertising and sales, and support for corporate customers.
Siebel's renewed deal with Sun revolves around support for the Java 2 Enterprise Edition Connectors specification in Siebel eBusiness Applications, version 7.5. The J2EE Connectors provides a standard architecture for enterprise applications to interoperate with the J2EE platform. Siebel first introduced J2EE interoperability in version 6.0.
One industry watcher, who asked not to be identified, says that such a high-profile deal with Microsoft around .NET will likely upset Sun.
"There is nothing new with this announcement," he says. "It's more of a public relations play to smooth over things with Sun. I'm sure Sun wasn't happy about the big deal made over .NET, and I can't blame them."
Siebel's relationship with Sun and Java goes back more than five years. In 2001 the two companies expanded their joint market presence by entering into a global strategic alliance partnership, which included development and technology initiatives, global marketing campaigns, and some joint sales.
"Our customers have indicated a strong interest in J2EE technology to meet their integration needs," says Richard Gorman, Siebel's senior vice president products and alliances.
Although most mid-market companies have embraced .NET, many CRM vendors are opting for J2EE in the enterprise space, because of its ability to run on a variety of operating systems. .NET runs on Microsoft's operating systems, according to Mitch Kramer, an analyst at the Patricia Seybold Group, a market researcher and consultancy in Boston.
"Our customers are using both technologies, and we want to deliver technology in line with what our customers are looking for," says Ed Abbo, Siebel senior vice president of technology and CTO.