Big Blue and Siebel Bolster Their SOA
Siebel Systems and IBM have unveiled the Siebel 7.8 Web UI Dynamic Developer Kit, which leverages the IBM WebSphere Application Server and IBM WebSphere Portal. The announcement is part of the companies' joint strategy to deliver SOA-based apps. Siebel says about the release that developers can reuse the Siebel data model in a Web application, and use IBM WebSphere Application Server to obtain Siebel functionality across channels. In fact, according to Denis Pombriant, managing principal of Beagle Research Group, Siebel's data model is one of its greatest assets. "It's perhaps the most complete data model in the industry. It gives [the company] the ability to provide meaningful access to customer developers through a dynamic developer toolkit, and enables customers to build on top of a very complete set of functionality."
Pombriant also classifies the announcement as "major," but he notes that "it could very easily fall by the wayside, given the fact that it's a few days before a big holiday in the United States." Chris Selland, principal analyst for Covington Associates, calls the announcement and "interesting" and "intriguing," but says it's hard to decipher its significance at this point. "This is something that had been alluded to before Mike Lawrie left the company, that Siebel was going to be doing more...to help customers build custom apps as opposed to packaged apps." He also notes that the announcement suggests, but doesn't say, that IBM could potentially be an acquirer for Siebel. "There's been talk about that for years and it's at least a possibility."
Although some companies, including NetSuite, Salesforce.com, and SAP, have been asserting their approaches to SOA, Pombriant notes that one of the biggest challenges surrounding SOA is getting organizations to buy into the idea. "For a long time various leaders in the industry have said 'Don't customize just take the applications as is'...[and] this kind of announcement goes against maybe a decade or two of preaching by people in the industry. There's a little unlearning or relearning that needs to be done now that many vendors are delivering a capability that enables their customers to make meaningful changes to their systems without worrying about how it's going to affect them for upgrades and new versions."
The announcement coincides with IBM's initiative, announced yesterday, focusing on helping organizations with their SOA deployments. Targeting business partners, independent software vendors (ISVs), and systems integrators (SIs), Big Blue will provide access to IBM resources, assets, and, go-to-market support. Through its PartnerWorld Industry Networks (PWIN), the company's blueprint for the initiative includes offering free resources (business planning, technical enablement, comarketing, and selling). For instance, IBM is providing a free e-learning interactive session to ISVs and SIs called IBM SOA Partner Workshops and Architect Hotline, to develop their skills to implement an SOA using their applications and IBM software like WebSphere, Rational, Tivoli, DB2, and Lotus.
Companies can also receive free trial copies of WebSphere Business Integration Modeler, a tool that simulates, optimizes, and validates business processes prior to putting them into production. Business partners purchasing the IBM PartnerWorld ValuePack, however, are eligible for free development licenses. Additionally, the IBM Rational Application Developer for WebSphere, the IBM Rational Functional Tester, and the IBM Rational Software Architect, are available for trial download.
Companies including ATG, Blue Titan, Business Objects, Capgemini, Cisco, Chordiant, CIBER, Cognizant Technology Solutions, Cognos, Epiphany, KANA, Lawson, Pegasystems, RIM, Sage Consulting, Salesforce.com, and Siebel, plan to take part in the initiative.
SOA has been looked at by some as risky, Pombriant says, because of the exposure of data to the Internet. However, some of that risk and concern over the risk is dissipating: "Due to the fact that this is such an efficient, low-cost way to deploy and build applications, organizations are deciding to take a hard look at this as a next-generation solution." Adds Selland: "I don't think there's any CRM vendor out there who's not talking about SOA compliance, it's just how aggressively."
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