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Salesforce.com and Oracle drive CRM upgrades

Salesforce.com and Oracle will unveil major upgrades to their CRM products, illustrating markedly divergent strategies for controlling and using customer data.

Salesforce.com's initiative emphasises its ability to integrate with competitive products, while Oracle reinforces its belief that customers are best served with a single, homogenous solution.

Salesforce.com S3 will redefine the customisation and integration capabilities offered by a traditional ASP through partnerships with BEA Systems, Borland Software, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and Tibco Software, said Salesforce chairman and chief executive officer Mark Benioff.

"The traditional thinking is that IT has no role in a hosted [ASP] service," said Benioff. "But now if we don't offer the functionality, you can extend it."

S3 will incorporate web service protocols that can be accessed through standard development environments such as Visual Studio.net, Sun One, and BEA WebLogic.

Using Sforce, corporate developers will be able to build new applications or business processes and embed these components within the plain Salesforce.com S3 application. Benioff called it a client service architecture as opposed to client server.

In addition, by tapping development tools that traditionally run against a server and now running them against the sforce service, Benioff believes Salesforce.com is redefining what it means to be an application service provider.

"We broker the database for you. You just talk to us, not the database, and that makes things simpler to deploy. There is no database administrator and no set up charges. It lowers cost," Benioff said.

Salesforce.com is also targeting companies with heterogeneous environments through its partnership with Tibco Integration Server.

"Tibco has tapped into Sforce," Benioff said.

Through Tibco Integration Server, the S3 application connects to anything else within an enterprise.

Oracle also announced its Oracle Marketing, part of its E-Business Suite of applications that will exploit a single repository of customer information.

Spelling out what a single repository means to Oracle, vice-president of CRM product marketing Robb Eklund said that the ultimate goal of any company is to work with a homogeneous supplier environment.

"Competitors all have to have a layer of connectivity. They still need to have this middleware. Oracle implements from a single database," said Eklund.

Ephraim Schwartz writes for InfoWorld


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