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Oracle to certify Siebel apps on Fusion Middleware

Oracle outlined plans for extending back office integration to Siebel's front-end systems at the Collaborate conference held this week.

Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Oracle Corp. laid out its plan for certifying Siebel CRM and business analytics applications on its Fusion Middleware product set at the Collaborate User Group conference being held this week in Nashville, Tenn.

According to Vijay Tella, chief strategy officer for Oracle Fusion Middleware, customers are increasingly trying to automate all customer interactions and need to extend beyond CRM. Tella said some Telco and financial services customers have begun remodeling their business around a customer-centric view, requiring them to automate the processes between front–end, customer-facing applications and back-end financials. For example, the end-to-end execution of an order can touch on sales, supply chain and manufacturing, and in some cases a shipping partner. Fusion Middleware, based on a services-oriented architecture (SOA), facilitates that integration.

"[With Fusion Middleware] the customer-facing processes are really automated end to end," Tella said. "You can give better visibility of what is happening."

Siebel 7.8 will be certified on Fusion Middleware by the second half of this calendar year, and Siebel 8 will be certified concurrent with its release, scheduled for early next year. Fusion Middleware will also allow users to integrate the mix of Oracle and non-Oracle applications such as SAP, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and the Oracle E-Business Suite.

"Current Siebel customers … should consider this good news in that there's going to be continued support for the product," said Michael Maoz, vice president and research fellow at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc. "It means Siebel hasn't been taken out of the market; you can extend it."

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On Tuesday, Oracle also announced plans to continue enhancing existing Siebel, PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards applications beyond 2013. Oracle had previously pledged to  support its recently acquired applications families indefinitely, but the announcement alleviates the pressure for customers to upgrade to Fusion, a blending of the best technology of its major acquisitions, which is scheduled to release in 2008. The new program, entitled "Applications Unlimited," will also provide customers with more visibility into product roadmaps.

"With today's announcement, we are giving customers the best of both worlds -- more value from their existing applications, which we plan to enhance indefinitely, and an option to upgrade free-of-charge to future technologies, if customers have a business case to do so," Oracle President Charles Phillips said in a statement.

With applications like PeopleSoft CRM, however, it's going to depend on the business case for such development, Maoz said.

"Short term, customers don't have to do anything," he said. "Longer term, Fusion product is the product for workflow."

Much of the architectural work on Siebel's applications had already begun before the acquisition with Project Nexus, its efforts to build services-enabled applications that would integrate with other business applications.

"Siebel was already architecturally thinking about how to extend [its] applications," Tella said. "We're using middleware tools to do this. The application architecture was in a sense already evolving in a way to support these extensions."

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