Business Objects begins product integration

Business information software company Business Objects has unveiled a roadmap for integrating its products with those of Crystal...

Business information software company Business Objects has unveiled a roadmap for integrating its products with those of Crystal Decisions, which it bought last July.

A product integration pack will be produced by the second quarter of this year, designed to enable integration of the companies' portals, provide common web service Application Program Interfaces and allow Business Objects metadata to be accessed and used by Crystal Reports.

Eventually, customers will get the dashboard, scorecarding, and query, analysis and reporting capabilities already embedded in Business Objects, along with the scalability and delivery mechanisms that are part of Crystal Decisions' reporting suite.

Any overlap will be eliminated. For instance, Business Objects will keep its portal while swapping in the broadcasting capabilities from Crystal Decisions along with that company's superior back-end administration, security and metadata rules management, said Chris Caren, vice president of corporate product marketing.

Caren added that the company will offer tools to migrate implementations of both products seamlessly. The new iterations will be backward-compatible with existing products, and the upgrades will be free.

Business Objects said the two products should have been integrated at platform level by the end of the year. Core products from both lines will run on a common infrastructure with common administration.

Complete integration is due in 2005.

Business Objects is now shipping Version 10 of the Crystal suite. Among its enhancements is tighter integration with Microsoft Office. It will also allow Java developers to embed reporting capabilities into third-party or homegrown applications more easily.

New simplification features have been added, such as the ability to take a list of items formatted for SAP R/3 and rename it for easier manipulation.

Business Objects is "carefully setting expectations in the marketplace", said Ventana Research analyst Eric Rogge.

"I'd give them good marks for it. They're making sure they have their customers on board, it's a conservative plan and doable."

However, Rogge questioned whether the merger will have much effect on customers. "Many of Business Object's customers already had Crystal software deployed in parallel with Business Objects. So it's not a risk, they won't be worried about the merger, but there's not a lot of benefit for them either. They already have the products that do what they want."

Gillian Law writes for IDG News Service

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