IBM, Siebel tighten ties

IBM Corp. and Siebel Systems Inc. further cemented their relationship Monday, inking a deal that facilitates business process integration across Siebel's CRM software and other applications in the enterprise.

The partnership grows out of Siebel's UAN (Universal Application Network) initiative, launched in April as a way to ease integration headaches associated with its CRM software, according to company officials. UAN hinges on using standards to create pre-built business processes, common object models, and data transformation maps that marry Siebel CRM with back-office systems.

These templates will address a process such as ""place customer order" that originates in a Siebel call center app, but needs to flow back into an enterprise's logistics, supply chain, and billing systems to execute successfully.

"From an end-user perspective, they don't want to see application investments made in specific areas being disconnected from related parts of their business," said Paraic Sweeney, vice president of marketing for Websphere Business Integration, in Somers, N.Y. "They want a mechanism for a business process that drives across multiple applications."

Central to the deal, Siebel will license IBM's stable of 70 to 100 pre-built business process templates and object models, many of which came to IBM via its acquisition of CrossWorlds Software in January. For its part, IBM plans to concurrently sell users the infrastructure platform needed to execute the process integration: Websphere Business Integration server, according to Sweeney.

The two companies are also offering a customized migration path for Siebel customers who want to move away from their existing point-to-point application integration architecture to the UAN approach, Sweeney said.

Lastly, Siebel announced that it will be using IBM's WebSphere Business Integration platform internally to tie together its applications, according to officials.

IBM is not alone in working on Siebel's UAN. The CRM giant tapped an array of integration vendors such as Tibco, Vitria, SeeBeyond, and webMethods; each is developing their own sets of business processes and process design tools aimed at the problem. Siebel also enlisted partners in the systems integrator community, including Accenture, KPMG, and IBM Global Services, to drive the implementation phase of UAN rollouts.

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