IBM, E.piphany Join for Open-Standards CRM

In a move designed to ensure that CRM products and systems are integrated and tested for scalability, IBM and E.piphany are partnering to provide a joint hardware-software CRM package based on such open standards as Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE).

E.piphany’s entire suite of CRM applications, including Service 6.0 — scheduled for release later this summer — will be optimized on IBM’s J2EE-based WebSphere Application , AIX operating system and DB2 database software platform, the companies said.

Roger Siboni, president and CEO of E.piphany, told CRM Buyer Magazinethat the alliance will accelerate E.piphany’s embrace of open standards. “We have believed for some time that the world will be moving to open-based technology — both because of the configuration options Web services offers, and the ability to have a more open and flexible back end to accommodate different data environments,” Siboni said.

He explained that “in a J2EE world, companies have the ability to grab services or components and join them around business processes.”

E.piphany’s marketing applications will be the first to be integrated. IBM and E.piphany will provide training for employees and collaborate on marketing, sales and support activities.

Bearing the Burden

Certainly, the partnership speaks volumes about the growing propensity for open standards among CRM buyers. In this respect, it is a fairly standard partnership between technology providers, AMR Research analyst Joannie Rufo told CRM Buyer.

What the alliance signifies, however, is that “vendors are taking on the challenge of making sure the combined [product] is integrated and tested for quality, scalability, etc., thereby reducing the burden on the buyer who wants a J2EE platform,” Rufo said.

Single Vendor Sourcing

Aberdeen Group analyst Gordon Benett believes the IBM-E.piphany offering, which is being optimized for WebSphere, AIX and DB2, is part of a trend toward single-vendor sourcing enhancements, also reflected in recent announcements from Sun and BEA.

“Paradoxically, this is somewhat at odds with the emphasis on J2EE, which is all about interoperability and avoiding vendor lock-in,” Benett told CRM Buyer.

Indeed, a case can be made that the IT buying community is becoming more tolerant of vendor lock-in to allow for one-stop shopping and support. In other words, suppliers are cautiously reintroducing proprietary features or “optimizations,” and CRM buyers are becoming increasingly willing to pay for them.

Examples of the vendor lock-in trend include Sun’s Sun ONE on Solaris and proprietary hardware; BEA’s middleware and Web services tools; IBM’s all-IBM stack and Oracle’s bundled apps, database and J2EE server.

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