Sun, E.piphany Ink CRM Alliance

Sun Microsystems and customer relationship management (CRM) specialist E.piphany announced a broad alliance Wednesday that will see the two companies partner on product development, sales, and marketing initiatives.

"What E.piphany and Sun are trying to accomplish in the marketplace is develop a holistic approach to what Fortune 1000 is demanding for CRM solutions," said Ed Siboni, CEO of San Mateo, California-based E.piphany.

"What they're demanding are both scalable systems -- massively scalable systems that can drive real-time interaction in a secure way -- but also requiring applications that deliver every aspect of customer analytics, marketing, and sales and service in a suite of real-time applications that they can drive to their enterprises," Siboni said.

E.piphany's packaged applications, E.5, gives users an array of so-called "touch points," including fax, desktop, telephony, and soon, e-mail, chat, and wireless.

By making Palo Alto, Calif.-based Sun's Solaris-based hardware and software solutions its preferred platform, E.piphany will walk a fine line with Sun's rivals. Siboni was careful to point out that E.piphany was not abandoning Microsoft's Windows NT-SQL Server or Oracle's Unix offerings.

"What the majority of our customers is telling us is that the environment of choice for them is Sun," Siboni said.

Sun COO Ed Zander added, "We'll do all we can, from Sun's perspective, to affect the [E.piphany-Microsoft] relationship by taking more business away, but ... we're just going to go do it in the marketplace."

According to the terms of the agreement, E.piphany will leverage Sun's worldwide sales and marketing organization to jointly promote E.piphany's CRM solutions to customers. Zander and Siboni said details were still to be worked out.

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