Business intelligence vendor Business Objects has fleshed out its product road map and a three-stage integration strategy following its $820m acquisition of Crystal Decisions last July.
The company is pledging a 'no customer left behind' policy, promising to provide migration tools for those forced to move from those products phased out following the acquisition
These will include Crystal's portal, which will be replaced by the Business Objects InfoView product, and Business Objects' own Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) client, currently used by around 10 per cent of its customer base, which is being phased out in favour of the Crystal Analysis OLAP client.
Dave Kellogg, senior group vice president of worldwide marketing at Business Objects, said: "We didn't set out to say this has to be some politically correct mix of [Business Objects] and [Crystal].
"If you have licensed functionality from a vendor that wasn't chosen for the future product line, you will get the equivalent licence for the technology that was chosen."
Although full integration between product sets from the two companies will not be completed until the second half of 2005, customers will be offered an integration pack, due to ship in the second quarter of this year, to provide front-end integration between Crystal and Business Objects products.
Integration will be completed in the second half of 2005, with BusinessObjects 12 offering a single 'semantic' layer across both product lines.
Future products will be developed using a single infrastructure for user administration, security and report scheduling based on Crystal Enterprise, starting with BusinessObjects 11, due for release in the fourth quarter of this year.
"But it's a no pain, no gain argument. The Crystal infrastructure and report distribution scales much larger," added Kellogg.
Customers unwilling to migrate to the new infrastructure can stick with Enterprise 6.5, which is due in the second quarter of this year with a further release slated one year later.
"We will support Enterprise for at least 18 months from the second quarter of 2005. It's about honouring customer commitment and giving them a choice," said Kellogg.
Andy Bitterer, vice president of technology research services at analyst Meta Group, said: "Companies are looking for standards. Business Objects is in a good position.
"The more you can buy from one supplier the better for you as a client to reduce costs. The product overlap is insignificant. I don't think I've ever seen a better merger from a planning point of view."
But he added that there were still gaps the company needed to address.
"Data quality and data profiling is one. Business Objects has a partner strategy for that but it could make a lot of sense to have data quality as part of the infrastructure stack," said Bitterer.
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