Business Objects SA will integrate Crystal Decisions' reporting applications with its own software in stages during the next two years, starting with integration tools due in the next few months that will let users access reports using either company's business-intelligence software.
That's according to plans Business Objects outlined this week following its US$1.2 billion acquisition of Crystal Decisions last month. In addition to providing a product road map, Business Objects executives detailed plans for merging the two companies' operations. Their sales, service, and customer-support staffs will be combined, and there will be some layoffs of redundant staff. Specific layoff numbers were not disclosed.
Together the companies have more than 24,000 customers. While Business Objects and Crystal Decisions products are owned by many of the same companies, they are generally installed in different departments with little overlap, says Chris Caren, VP of corporate product marketing.
Business Objects' goal is to offer a combined product suite made up of its ad hoc query, analysis, and performance-management software and Crystal Decisions' enterprise reporting applications.
But integrating the product lines will be a challenge. 'It's a tough dance, keeping existing customers happy and paying maintenance [fees] while trying to move forward with new designs and architecture,' said Gartner analyst Howard Dresner. Business Objects has spent 'vast amounts of time' planning the migration, he said, adding that he generally agrees with the integration blueprint.
Under the plan's first phase, an 'integration pack' of tools will be available in the second quarter for integrating Business Objects and Crystal software at the front end, providing unified access to reports created using either set of tools. Business Objects will also debut in the second quarter Enterprise 6.5, the next release of its own business-intelligence software suite.
This week, Business Objects also began shipping Crystal Version 10, a new release of the Crystal Decisions reporting software that was under development prior to the buyout. It offers tighter links to Microsoft Office apps and a new Java report engine.
Phase two calls for integrating the underlying infrastructure of the two product lines by the end of this year in a single product suite dubbed Business Objects 11. The new platform will include Business Objects' InfoView portal and data integration and semantic layer software, and Crystal's security, administration, report broadcast, and development software.
Most Crystal customers and users of Business Objects' web-based software will likely migrate to Business Objects 11, Caren said. But because that release won't provide all the capabilities of Business Objects' full-client software, users of the full-client product will likely move to another release of Enterprise that's due by mid-2005. They will then move to Business Objects 12, the final combination of the Business Objects and Crystal Decisions product lines due at the end of 2005.
'This acknowledges both client bases and both [vendors'] development teams, which is an indication that current management is trying to maximize the return on both legacy product lines while moving forward to a fully integrated reporting platform,' said Forrester analyst Keith Gile.
Some Crystal Decisions users say Business Objects has gone out of its way to keep them informed of the integration plan. 'It's just a question of how big the adjustments will be. I'm not expecting any severe impacts,' said Charles Castleberry, associate director of architecture at Fox Filmed Entertainment, Fox's motion picture division. Employees there use Crystal software to analyse film distribution data.
Crystal Decisions' reporting software is also resold by several industry heavyweights, including SAP and Microsoft. Caren says those vendors have reacted positively to the product road map. But Gile says Business Objects must be careful to preserve the Crystal brand and its channel expertise to continue those relationships.
Issue: 316 | July 2013
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