• January 28, 2003
  • By David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com

Siebel Integrates to IBM's WebSphere

What prompted Siebel Systems Inc. to run an ad in today's Wall Street Journal with big bold letters stating "CRM Reinvented"? The answer: Siebel's joint agreement with IBM Corp. to integrate into IBM's WebSphere application server. The agreement, which expands on IBM's and Siebel's three-year relationship, provides an open standard for connecting and integrating applications and "will blur the lines between a custom developed solution and a blended solution," says Jeff Scheel, vice president and general manager of alliances at Siebel. Siebel aims to address the needs of large enterprises' heterogeneous environments by standardizing on IBM's WebSphere, which is an open standards platform using J2EE. According to Gartner Inc., Scheel says, the total market for applications in CRM is $25 billion worldwide, but $21 billion is spent on custom developed software. "The packaged application share of that market is small. By going to native application server providers customers will be in a better position to seamlessly mix our software with proprietary applications they built on WebSphere and niche applications that might be beneficial to their industry," Scheel says. "Siebel needs to make sure they are interoperable, which is something they haven't been able to do," says Sheryl Kingstone, program manager at Yankee Group. "The significance of this announcement isn't necessarily earth-shattering. We've been saying this for years and Siebel finally stepped up to the plate... Gee you've integrated your email and made it more workflow oriented. Gee, thank you very much," Kingstone says. Despite the sarcasm, Kingstone approves of the announcement. "I applaud Siebel for separating its proprietary application server from the equation. It lowers the cost of ownership, because customers can now leverage a lot of their existing investments," she says. Siebel's intention to integrate with IBM WebSphere comes just a few months after Tom Siebel announced his company's intention to integrate with Microsoft .NET and just over one week after SAP AG announced its intention to integrate into both platforms. "We're shaking things up. We will be the only application provider of enterprise software that has come up with a timeframe of doing away with our own application server," Scheel says. As for which platform will win out over time, Scheel is reluctant to say, but he says, "We're not going to put ourselves in the position to pick one. Gartner estimates that over the long term J2EE will have 50 percent of the market and .NET will have 30 percent, but Giga Information Group Inc. says the majority of companies will have both." As for the future of Siebel 7, Scheel says it will be gone in 12 to 24 months, but organizations that have implemented Siebel 7 will not be forced to upgrade, as they can still integrate into WebSphere.
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