SAP Watch

Apr 7 2008   11:04AM GMT

SAP’s unexpected infrastructure investment

JackDanahy Jack Danahy Profile: JackDanahy

SAP Ventures is one of the companies that has invested $15 million in Imprivata, an identity and access management technology company that offers both hardware and software. SAP Ventures was particularly impressed by Imprivata’s ability to “address compliance and insider security threats,” explained Jennifer Scholze, a partner at SAP Ventures.

This is a titillating investment because, as SAP Ventures claims, its strategy “may be independent of or central to SAP’s corporate strategic focus.” The Imprivata deal addresses three imbricated areas — identity management, security, and hardware — that currently happen to fall outside SAP’s corporate strategic focus, which prompts speculation about whether SAP is about to move more aggressively into any or all of these areas.

From SAP’s perspective, identity management is possibly the most interesting component of what Imprivata does. SAP archrival Oracle has an identity management suite, and has long been involved in the identity management space thanks to the authentication and security aspects of the core database product.

Being able to offer identity and access management, as well as a security later (as opposed to application-embedded security), allows a company to position itself as an application infrastructure provider. Oracle is possibly the only company that can mount a legitimate claim to being both an application infrastructure company and an enterprise applications company, allowing it to combine what SAP does with what companies like BEA, IBM, HP, and CA do.

Oracle came out of the infrastructure world to acquire a foothold in applications. The investment in Imprivata is a reason to wonder if SAP will eventually go in the other direction, i.e. from applications to infrastructure. If so, SAP will become a platform provider in the most profound sense of the word and gain the ability to complete against Oracle in markets that are currently closed off to SAP.

Demir Barlas, Site Editor

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