Business intelligence software maker Business Objects is taking steps to provide a single set of products to meet users' combined analytical and reporting needs.

The company has unveiled a projected integration and enhancement roadmap for the product portfolio it inherited when it bought reporting software vendor Crystal Decisions last July. To that end, over the next couple of years the company will offer a three-phase integration approach, beginning with the rollout of joint portal and Web services APIs. That rollout is due to take place in the second quarter of this year.

Eventually, customers will get the dashboard, scorecarding, and query, analysis and reporting capabilities that are embedded in Business Objects along with the scalability and delivery mechanisms that are part of Crystal Decisions' reporting suite. Any overlap will be eliminated, the company said. For instance, Business Objects plans to keep its portal while swapping in the broadcasting capabilities from Crystal Decisions along with that company's superior back-end administration, security and metadata rules management, said Chris Caren, vice president of corporate product marketing.

Caren said the company will offer tools to seamlessly migrate implementations of both products. The new iterations will be backward-compatible with existing products, and the upgrades will be free.

As part of its plan, Business Objects is now shipping Version 10 of the Crystal suite. Among its enhancements is tighter integration with Microsoft Office. It will also allow Java developers to more easily embed reporting capabilities into third-party or homegrown applications.

In addition, new simplification features have been added, such as the ability to take a list of items formatted for SAP R/3 and rename it for easier manipulation.