The open standards vendor enters the CRM fray by going head-to-head against the Microsoft .Net platform.
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Sun Microsystems Inc. is bringing its platform war with Microsoft Corp. into the CRM arena with its existing Sun One platform.
More of a marketing move, the announcement does not come with any specific CRM solution. Although CRM solutions based on .Net already exist from such companies as Epicor and FrontRange, Sun has some time to plan it next steps, as Microsoft has yet to ship its own CRM solution based on .Net. Nonetheless, analysts are unclear as to how Sun One will stack up against .Net.
"In terms of Sun being a platform of choice, it's clearly a winner. Now, Sun is putting a stake in the ground by saying it will be a platform of choice for CRM. Sun has been trying to be a CRM player for a while. However, it hasn't been very focused," says Kelly Spang-Ferguson, principal analyst at Current Analysis. ".Net is so new. There's so much speculation on what Microsoft can and will do that it is very premature to compare the merits of .Net versus Sun One."
With the help of some major CRM vendors Sun also announced its I-Force CRM Network, a subdivision of Sun's I-Force Community. "Sun already has the partnerships established for I-Force. In terms of who Sun could align with for its CRM Network, there are not hundreds of choices," says Michael McNerney, group manager of e-business market development at Sun.
Sun's current partners include Oracle Corp., J.D. Edwards, i2, and Pegasystems. "This program brings Sun's core competence around partner collaboration and the Sun One platform. In other markets Sun tends to be a facilitator of open standards. That's what we're trying to do here with the CRM Network," McNerney says.
The focus for Sun is to solve the common integration problem facing many CRM implementations. "Microsoft says it is going to solve the CRM integration problem by getting into the application business and taking on Siebel. As an infrastructure provider, we believe that integration can't happen at the application layer....There's a natural competition at the application level," McNerney says. "There is a high rate of failures for implementations. Sixty percent of CRM budgets are spent on implementation. How are people combating that as they build departmental CRM? We want to try and help this market mature via the I-Force Network."
Sun is looking to its partners to build solutions on open standards to "encourage growth for niche solutions," McNerney says. He adds that Sun is looking to partner with as many as 200 companies in its I-Force CRM Network.
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