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Oracle-Siebel Customers Have More Hopes Than Details On Post-Merger Plans

Customers with heavy investments in both Oracle and Siebel say they have high hopes for the acquisition -- as well as fear of the unknown

Siebel Systems customers attending this week's Siebel user group haven't gotten a lot of details about how the software will be integrated into Oracle applications after Oracle's acquisition of Siebel. But for companies that run both Oracle and Siebel, the general promise of tighter coupling of the two vendors' software, along with Siebel's ongoing investment in component-based application development, business analytics, and on-demand functionality, still has many seeing opportunity.

"Both companies have a lot to learn from each other, and there will be huge benefits to reap once they get there," predicted Rob Martens, director of global front office technology for industrial equipment maker Ingersoll-Rand, said during a discussion between several customers and the news media at Siebel's CustomerWorld conference in Boston Tuesday.

Ingersoll-Rand is running a mix of Siebel's on-premises and on-demand CRM apps, plus its analytics software for extracting business intelligence from those apps. It runs its on-premises Siebel apps on an Oracle database, and is also deploying Oracle's Fusion middleware technology. And since Ingersoll-Rand is ramping up its adoption of component-based applications, Martens is encouraged by indications Oracle plans to maintain Siebel's R&D spending in that. "I want more flexibility," said Martens.

Siebel's announcement Monday that it was rolling out Siebel Component Assembly, a set of service-based apps designed to let companies build their own custom CRM apps, made it clear Oracle is on board with that technology roadmap. But verbal assurances and pre-acquisition indications are far from a guarantee, said Sheila Dunn, CRM director for UPS. Dunn said Oracle and Siebel have been good about assuring concerned customers as they plan to merge the two product lines. Still, she said, "there are always fears of the unknown."

EDS has been adopting Oracle's Fusion middleware technology over the past year, and it sees only upside to the Oracle-Siebel combination, said J.R. Esson, chief technology officer at EDS. "Siebel on Oracle is a key topic for us," Esson said. Esson also likes the prospect for a new round of one-upsmanship between Oracle and SAP, both of which provide software EDS runs and implements. "Having a rich competition between the two global providers is great news for us," he said. Esson said there's increasing pressure on both companies to accelerate their development of service-based technologies and to sell their software more as components. Said Esson, "What I expect to see from both vendors is a pretty rapid unbundling of their capabilities."

Oracle President Charles Phillips was scheduled to speak to the user group Wednesday.

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