Eye on Oracle

Nov 19 2008   6:52AM GMT

Oracle vs. SAP revisited

Shayna Garlick Shayna Garlick Profile: Shayna Garlick

Much of the Oracle vs. SAP talk we’ve heard recently has centered on the $1 billion lawsuit filed by Oracle against SAP.

But what about the Oracle vs. SAP battle outside the courtroom?

The two software giants have had a more longstanding feud in the applications space, and a new Forrester research report just declared a new winner. The report ranks Oracle’s application strategy ahead of SAP’s, a change from two years ago when Forrester said SAP was winning its war with Oracle.

The 2006 report credited SAP for the momentum it was gaining from its NetWeaver platform. That, along with SAP’s strong partnership strategy and customer base, put the company ahead of Oracle, Forrester analysts said.

Now, it looks like the promise of Fusion Applications is putting Oracle on top, at least in the eyes of analysts. The new Forrester report says that while SAP is simply focused on getting customers on its latest ERP software release, without looking ahead to the future, “Oracle’s vision for the future of its apps business is now clearer and more compelling,” according to this ITWorld article.

But whether Oracle stays on top is up to them: “If Oracle Fusion Applications fall flat, SAP wins by forfeit,” the report said.

Oracle may be winning the ERP applications battle, but let’s take a look at some other areas, many in which the fight is tough to call — who do you think emerges as the winner?

Customer Relationship Management (CRM )

Last year, analysts named SAP as No. 1 in CRM, ahead of Oracle’s Siebel CRM. It was reported that while Siebel was more widely deployed, SAP’s strategy of bundling CRM with ERP and other deals helps them drive in more revenue. Gartner’s 2008 Magic Quadrant report also showed SAP gaining the most ground in CRM.  

What about the future? While Oracle is adding social networking to its CRM offerings, SAP’s hiring of former Oracle executive John Wookey, who has a strong CRM background, just may keep SAP on top. 

Business Intelligence (BI)

SAP and Oracle both recently made major BI acquisitions, but it may be awhile until we see just how successfully they play out.  SAP purchased Business Objects last year, and at this year’s TechEd conference, the CEO of Business Objects, John Schwarz, announced that the SAP BI product line will be supported through at least 2016. However, it will eventually merge with Business Objects to become one product line. Schwarz said that the company “brings new value for SAP customers by giving business users access to information without IT having to become involved.”

After Oracle acquired Hyperion last year, Charles Phillips, Oracle’s president said, “”We now have the most comprehensive BI product line.” Oracle executives also said the acquisition would allow them to offer a more holistic approach to BI, even when faced with the challenge of “addressing fragmented business challenges.” It should be interesting to see how.

Web 2.0

Since this is a relatively new area, and organizations are just starting to jump into Web 2.0, it should be interesting to see how Oracle and SAP choose to do so. In September, Oracle previewed new Web 2.0 and social CRM applications at Oracle OpenWorld. Earlier this year, SAP expert John Reed thought SAP had not yet caught up to Oracle:

 “The problem is that SAP has yet to build a Web 2.0 tool set for its own customers that is fully integrated into SAP. In my opinion, this is one of the few areas where Oracle, with its WebCenter 2.0 toolkit, is well ahead of SAP. But SAP will get there,” Reed said.

There are endless ways we could compare these two software giants, but what do you think? In these areas (or in areas I didn’t address) who do you think is stronger — Oracle or SAP?  Or does choosing one over the other simply depend on the needs of your organization?

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