Siebel offers CRM services for BEA-based SOA

If an SOA-related announcement made by Siebel Systems on Thursday is any indication, the company maintains a streak of independence despite its imminent acquisition by Oracle.

Siebel said it has begun shipping a version of its Siebel Component Assembly product for deployment with the BEA Systems WebLogic Server 9.0 application server.

"It is a componentized version of our CRM system that's targeted for custom-build front office applications," said David Bernstein, Siebel vice president of technology.

The software enables Siebel CRM services such as sales and marketing to be used as components in an SOA.

"They're all available as Web services," said David Bernstein, Siebel vice president

"Companies can bring their own assets in the form of Java code and Web services and stitch those into this product," Bernstein added. Users might have proprietary banking and insurance algorithms, for example, which could be interfaced with the Siebel services.

First unveiled in October as part of Project Nexus, Siebel Component Assembly previously has supported deployments on Microsoft .Net and IBM WebSphere systems. IBM, BEA, and Microsoft participated in the development of Siebel Component Assembly.

Conspicuously absent from the list of supported platforms thus far is the Oracle Application Server, a fierce competitor with BEA, IBM, and Microsoft offerings. This is likely to change, however.

"We're not making any of those announcements today but that would be a safe speculation," Bernstein said. Oracle's application server is standards-based, making it a likely target for Siebel's product.

Oracle in September announced its intention to acquire Siebel Systems for $5.85 billion. The acquisition is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2006. Siebel, Oracle, BEA, and IBM were among a list of companies last week that announced an SOA-related specification entitled Service Component Architecture (SCA).

Siebel's similarly named Siebel Component Assembly product "follows the SCA philosophy around services-wiring and Service Data Objects," Bernstein said.

"In fact, Siebel Component Assembly is the best example of a shipping product that aligns with that specification. It may be the only product" that does so, Bernstein said.

Siebel Component Assembly takes Siebel on a necessary path toward componentization, said analyst Sheryl Kingstone, program manager at the Yankee Group.

"They have to succeed at it or Siebel will eventually just die out. They have to continue on this path of componentizing the architecture," she said.

In accommodating BEA and best-of-breed infrastructure, Siebel is differentiating itself from SAP's NetWeaver integration initiative, Kingston said.

Siebel's first supporting BEA over Oracle is related to BEA's having participated in the development of Siebel Component Assembly, Kingstone said. Extending support to Oracle is "going to take time," she said.

Siebel Component Assembly features a schema that is available as objects, so it is not tightly connected to Siebel's own schema. Major elements of Siebel Component Assembly include: Foundation Workbench, offering a repository and editor for building declarative, metadata components; and Siebel Component Sets, featuring prebuilt components for Foundation, Sales, Services, B2B and B2C systems.

Component descriptions in Foundation Workbench are stored as XML files; the workbench can import and export code-based services to and from common development environments such as Eclipse and Microsoft Visual Studio. These services can be run on .Net or J2EE systems.

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