When Oracle releases Siebel 8 later this year, the venerable CRM application will, for the first time, run on Linux servers.
The independent Siebel Systems, bought by Oracle for over $5 billion last year, had not pledged to support Linux. It had, however, worked with IBM to ensure that Siebel CRM could work with DB2 database running on Linux.
Still, this news is kind of a no-brainer for Oracle watchers. The Redwood Shores, Calif. company has said it has moved the bulk of its internal systems to Linux already. It has also said it is moving its internal CRM system to Siebel. Ergo, Siebel had better run on Linux.
A spokeswoman confirmed that the company is now implementing the nascent Siebel 8 CRM internally and that Siebel 8 will support Linux. It is likely Oracle executives will talk about this development at Oracle OpenWorld kicking off October 22 in San Francisco.
Jay Fruin, CEO of Leveraged Technology, a New York-based CRM specialist found this news of note. "Linux is making a lot of inroads in corporate servers. For many users it almost doesn't matter what runs on the server anymore [as long as it works] and Linux is a more stable server environment," he noted.
The increasing perception as servers as sort of "black box" environments is one of Microsoft's chief problems going forward, analsyts say. And it's one of the major drivers behind the burgeoning on-demand, software-as-a-service (SaaS) trends.
On-demand power Salesforce.com runs largely on Linux and Solaris servers and NetSuite is a Linux backend shop, for example. Meanwhile, Microsoft is striving to prove its relevance in this market with its Windows-oriented Office Live and Windows Live efforts.
Linux' stability affirms open-source proponents' contention that their software development model is inherently superior to that used by proprietary software purveyors.
"The open source movement is an intellectual one. These developers are not paid. They do the work for accreditation from their peers and consequently the code is incredibly good," Fruin said.
The fact that Siebel, the once dominant CRM offering that—once the dot com bust happened—was plagued with complaints about its complexity and high prices, will do Linux is further sign that the open-source operating system is becoming a big factor in enterprise applications.
SugarCRM already fields open-source ERP software, and there are several open-source ERP offerings out there from Compiere, OpenMFG and others.
For the past few years, Oracle's strategy has been to wring as much cost out of a solution running its database and stack as possible without cutting into its own margins. That is why company CEO Larry Ellison so publicly embraced inexpensive Dell blade servers, Linux running the still pricey Oracle database which lists at up to $40,000 per processor in its enterprise incarnation. Of course, Oracle is also known for heavy discounting.
"There is a very interesting dynamic going on here [with Oracle]," said Denis Pombriant, managing principal of Beagle Research, a Stoughton, Mass. research firm.
"In an effort to reduce the cost of provisioning its stack, Oracle like many companies is going to Linux because it's inexpensive. It is doing with Linux what other vendors are trying to do with databases, which is trying to get the lowest cost, highest quality stack they can," he noted.