In the first part of this guest column, veteran SAP expert Naeem Hashmi talked about the good things about SAP buying Business Objects. Unfortunately, there are some thorns to be found amidst the roses too, Hashmi said — and that applies to SAP users and non-users alike.
The bad news is, we’re now seeing a momentary confusion among SAP BI customers and consulting partners. We have many different products with different infrastructures, usage and life cycle management environments. Just a few month back SAP acquired OutlookSoft, a corporate performance suite, and before that we saw the Virsa acquisition
Full integration of Virsa and OutlookSoft within the NetWeaver platform is still years away. And now you need to think about bringing legacy Business Object universes in under the NetWeaver umbrella. Either that, or users have to continue using BO as a non-SAP BI front-end. That results in an explosion of data marts.
When talking with SAP customers at the TechEd last week, the common question on many attendee’s minds were that today SAP offers too many BI development frameworks, not only the composition environment but also the user-facing environments. With a streaming acquisition of BI products, each with its own composition and user-facing environment, it will be quite hard to create consistency in user-experience when dealing with so many competing BI user interfaces.
Consistency and reusability is at the heart of SOA: back-end services are used to share consistent content to develop consistent user experiences through consistent user-facing styles. With diverse front-ends, this dream of NetWeaver-powered custom services reusability will be hard to achieve.
On the ETL end, about 6 moths back SAP signed an OEM relationship with Informatica for its NetWeaver BI solution. While the Informatica OEM relationship is not fully materialized, now the Acta engine is popping up in the SAP world shadowing the Informatica footprint. Will SAP still continue Informatica OEM relationship?
Another piece of bad news for BO “by association” alone: From experience in advising executives for BI solutions, any time when I dealt with a client who has no SAP footprint in their IT landscape, the word ‘SAP’ alone is the end of discussion. So when BO is tagged as SAP BO, it will be a big booboo, end of discussion. It will be interesting to see how BO as a standalone SAP legal entity can remain hidden under the huge SAP umbrella. Truth is, once you’re in, you just can’t hide. Virsa is an example of this.
Ouch. Clearly, the Business Objects deal is a mixed bag. But in the end, how will it really impact regular SAP shops? Is the net sum a positive or a negative for real-life companies dabbling in BI? Read Hashmi’s concluding remarks for his final verdict on the acquisition.