Business Objects draws post-merger Crystal roadmap

Business information software company Business Objects SA announced a roadmap for integrating its own products with those of Crystal Decisions Inc., which it bought last July.

A new version of Crystal Decisions has also been released, as the company begins what it says will be a “multimillion dollar” marketing campaign based around a travelling roadshow, covering 29 countries.

Business Objects will merge the products in three phases, with complete integration not due until 2005, it said Thursday.

A product integration pack will be produced by the second quarter of this year, designed to enable integration of the companies’ portals, provide common Web service Application Program Interfaces (APIs) and allow Business Objects metadata to be accessed and used by Crystal Reports.

By the end of 2004, the two products should have been integrated at platform level, Business Objects said. This means that core products from both lines will run on a common infrastructure with common administration, according to the company. It will take a further year until complete integration, with all current functionality, is available.

Business Objects is “carefully setting expectations in the marketplace,” Eric Rogge, an analyst with Ventana Research Inc. in Belmont, Calif., said Thursday.

“I’d give them good marks for it. They’re making sure they have their customers on board, it’s a conservative plan and likely doable,” Rogge said.

However, Rogge questioned whether the merger will have much effect on customers. “Many of Business Object’s customers already had Crystal software deployed in parallel with Business Objects. So it’s not a risk, they won’t be worried about the merger, but there’s not a lot of benefit for them either. They already have the products that do what they want,” Rogge said.

Version 10 of Crystal Decisions, released Thursday, includes Crystal Enterprise, the company’s base reporting system, with Crystal Analysis report design software and Crystal reports. The new version of the suite features tighter integration with Microsoft Corp.’s Office software, a new Java report engine and advanced controls for Visual Studio.Net, Business Objects said.

Business Objects, with joint headquarters in San Jose and Paris, bought Crystal Decisions of Palo Alto, Calif., in a US$820 million cash and stock deal last year.

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