With Siebel Innovation Pack 2015 announced as being scheduled for release in the first half of 2015, we set out why the new release cycle is positive for Siebel customers.

It is official – according to the just-updated Statement of Direction for Siebel Innovation Pack 2015, the IP2015 release is now scheduled for the first half of 2015. And the release cycle for Innovation Packs is expected to be the first half of each year going forward.

This marks a departure from prior innovation packs (IP2012 – IP2014) which have been released in the last quarter of the relevant years.

Why the change?

The official line is that the Siebel release will work more effectively with Oracle's annual mega-conference in San Francisco, Oracle OpenWorld. This is likely to be the case - it would be great to see SIs and customers there showcasing the things that they've achieved on the very latest release of the Open UI framework.

However, there are two further benefits to moving to a release cycle that occurs in the first half of each year.

The first is customer perception. We’ve spoken with many customers who have been assessing Innovation Pack 2014 for example, but few implement within the first month or two of the new Innovation Pack arriving. Instead, most choose to wait for the first monthly patchset at least before performing an assessment and then deciding to go ahead with an upgrade.

The result of this is that, by the time the upgrade project starts, the IT team are talking about rolling out Innovation Pack 2014 for a go-live in mid-2015. That doesn’t sound great to the business they serve – who could easily arrive at the incorrect conclusion that this is the result of internal delays or lack of competence, and as a consequence they’re paying a price to upgrade to software that they perceive to already be well out of date.

The second consideration is that, when using a naming convention that includes the year (e.g. 2014), it absolutely mandates release of that software within that year – whether it is ready or not. While there is no suggestion that has happened for any of the Innovation Pack releases so far, the risk was there for future releases.

We can look back at history for an example of the challenges that result from year-based naming conventions.

Those of us who have been working with Siebel since the late Nineties will remember the Siebel releases back then – Siebel 98, Siebel 99 and Siebel 2000 (the latter two were also known as Siebel 5 and Siebel 6). Then came the momentous change in Siebel’s architecture from a traditional Win32 thick client setup to a web-based architecture – this was a huge effort for the Siebel Product Development team, and one that was fraught with difficulty as it was so cutting-edge.

Ultimately, Siebel 2001 was released right at the end of 2001 - in what many perceived as a rush as a result of development overrunning – and contained many bugs. Only after two patch releases did it become a viable upgrade and, learning from the situation, Siebel Systems quietly dropped the Siebel 2001 naming convention, instead referring to it only as Siebel 7.

What does this new schedule mean for customers?

So is the move to a first-half release cycle for Innovation Packs a positive one? Absolutely. It will deal with the unnecessarily-negative perceptions highlighted earlier, and additionally will give the Siebel development team room for manoeuvre when including elements that maybe take a little longer to develop than expected. This can only be good for the software, its customers and the systems integrators who implement it. Additionally it should also enable more SIs and customers to show off at OpenWorld innovations that have been built on the latest releases of Siebel and its powerful Open UI framework.

We’re looking forward to IP2015 and the further improvements it brings to Siebel – though of course following so hot on the heels of IP2014, the scope is smaller than it would otherwise be. Check out the Statement of Direction for more information; we will of course be blogging about it in the coming months when we see the pre-release, so stay tuned.