Business Objects details integration of Crystal Decisions

Government users of Crystal Reports, the popular data reporting tool, can rest easy knowing the product's new owner won't force an integrated suite of business intelligence tools down their throats.

Executives of San Jose, Calif.-based Business Objects Inc. told a room full of government users and systems integrators that the company would take a phased approach to integrating its products with those of Crystal Decisions, which it acquired in a $1.2 billion deal that closed last December. Business Objects presented its roadmap to the government market at a seminar today in McLean, Va.

"This is what our customers wanted because it allows them to use the broader products more quickly, rather than wait for an integrated suite," said Chris Caren, Business Objects' vice president of product marketing.

Caren said that the Crystal brand would remain part of the company's product suite, underscored by the delivery last month of new versions of Crystal Reports, Analysis and Enterprise. Business Objects will also release a new version of its own tools, which include query and analysis, performance management and data integration, in the second quarter.

Business Objects will begin integrating the two product suites soon after the release of BusinessObjects Enterprise 6.5 through distribution of an integration pack. The free software will pull together front-end functionality of the BusinessObjects and Crystal products so, for example, a Crystal report can be published in a BusinessObjects portal.

The second integration phase will begin at the end of 2004, when the company begins developing a common architecture for the combined product suite. By the end of 2005 the company expects to release a fully integrated product.

In a research note, John Hagerty, vice president at Boston-based AMR Research, commended Business Objects' strategy, saying that existing users of both product lines could continue using them for the foreseeable future.

Greg Lorden, vice president of Business Objects' government division, said more systems integrators are including business intelligence in their government bids, particularly in areas of e-government, performance management and application reengineering.

The President's Management Agenda has also helped fuel interest in business intelligence solutions, he said.

Lorden said Business Objects has worked with various integrators, including Accenture Ltd., BearingPoint Inc., Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., Electronic Data Systems Corp. and IBM Corp. Its business intelligence tools are installed at agencies such as the Defense, Energy and State departments, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration.

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