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Microsoft, Siebel Aim for Application Integration

By Thor Olavsrud

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Microsoft Monday announced a "major expansion" of its strategic relationship with Siebel Systems, under which the two firms will jointly engineer Siebel's customer relationship management (CRM) software for Microsoft's .NET architecture.

Together, the two companies hope to capitalize on the possibilities of Web services by utilizing the technology's capabilities to provide application integration above and beyond system integration.

Through the deal, Siebel has agreed to make Microsoft's Visual Studio .NET development suite its primary development toolset, and joint engineering teams based in development laboratories in Redmond, Wash. and San Mateo, Calif. will benchmark test, cross-certify and integrate Siebel applications with Microsoft platform software.

The partners said their pact will focus on three initiatives:

* Implementing and executing Siebel Integration Business Processes on Universal Application Network using Microsoft's BizTalk Server and Visual Studio .NET design tools
* Enhancing the interactivity of the Siebel Smart Client using .NET technologies, allowing Siebel's eBusiness Applications to integrate more tightly with Microsoft Office, and to support deployment on emerging mobile devices
* Optimizing Siebel's eBusiness Applications for the Windows Server operating systems, SQL Server and the .NET Framework.

By combining Universal Application Network and BizTalk Server, the partners hope to give joint customers the ability to deploy cross-application, industry-specific business processes that can connect all of an enterprise's applications -- not just CRM, enterprise resource management (ERP) and supply chain management (SCM) apps -- in ways that support the customer's unique needs.

BizTalk Server will bring that capability to Universal Application Network through its support for the BPEL4WS (Business Process Execution Language for Web Services) specification, published by the Web Services Interoperability (WS-I) organization in August. An XML flow language, BPEL4WS allows companies to describe business processes that include multiple Web services and standardize message exchange internally and between partners.

Meanwhile, the work on Smart Client is intended to create a better user interface for Siebel applications, as well as to extend the firm's eBusiness Applications to a broader array of mobile devices, including smart devices.

The companies agreed to put a multimillion dollar marketing investment behind the deal, with a single point of interaction for joint customers across sales, marketing and customer support.