, Oracle drive CRM upgrades Inc. and Oracle Corp. this week will unveil major upgrades to their respective CRM product offerings, illustrating markedly divergent strategies for controlling and leveraging customer data.

While’s initiative emphasizes its ability to integrate with competitive products, Oracle reinforces its belief that customers are best served with a single, homogenous solution.

In what Chairman of the Board and CEO Mark Benioff called’s most significant release since the company’s launch three years ago, S3 will redefine the customization and integration capabilities offered by a traditional ASP through new partnerships with BEA Systems Inc., Borland Software Corp., Microsoft Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc., and Tibco Software Inc.

“The traditional thinking is that IT has no role in a hosted (ASP) service,” said Benioff. “But now if we don’t offer the functionality, you can extend it.”

San Francisco-based is extending the customization and integration capabilities of its hosted application through its sforce platform announced earlier this month. S3 sits atop the sforce architecture, which incorporates Web service protocols that can be accessed through standard development environments such as Visual, Sun One, and BEA WebLogic. Using sforce, corporate developers will be able to build new applications or business processes and embed these components within the plain vanilla S3 application. Benioff called it a client service architecture as opposed to client server.

In addition, by tapping development tools that traditionally run against a server and now running them against the sforce service, Benioff believes is redefining what it means to be an application service provider.

“We broker the database for you. You just talk to us, not the database, and that makes things simpler to deploy. There is no database administrator and no set up charges. It lowers cost,” Benioff said. is also targeting companies with heterogeneous environments through its partnership with Tibco Integration Server.

“Tibco has tapped into sforce,” Benioff said.

Through Tibco Integration Server, the S3 application connects to anything else within an enterprise, according to Benioff.

But while most CRM companies, including SAP and PeopleSoft, are saying that the feature wars are over and that integration is the way to an IT manager’s heart, Oracle appears to be going its own way. This week the company announced Oracle Marketing, part of its E-Business Suite of applications that will leverage a single repository of customer information, according to Oracle officials in Redwood Shores, Calif.

Spelling out what a single repository means to Oracle, vice president of CRM product marketing Robb Eklund said that the ultimate goal of any company is to work with a homogeneous vendor environment.

“Competitors all have to have a layer of connectivity. They still need to have this middleware. Oracle implements from a single database,” said Eklund.

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