Eye on Oracle

Oct 7 2009   2:57PM GMT

Will Oracle have to fight the database wars on two fronts?

Ed Scannell Ed Scannell Profile: Ed Scannell

Speaking at Red Herring’s Etre 2009 conference a couple of days ago, SAP’s CEO Leo Apotheker had some bold if not refreshing words to say about his archrival Oracle. It seems the folks residing at Redwood Shores are hardly an all-consuming passion for him.

“I know it sounds really nice to have Oracle as a nemesis, but there’s a bigger world out there. I don’t spend my entire day worrying about Oracle, that would be somewhat stupid. There are major changes happening out there…so you take the competition as it is,” Apotheker said addressing conference attendees.

You have to like his confidence here up against a company many times its size, that is cash rich, and is swallowing up companies like it was competing in the Nathan’s Hotdog Eating Championship.

SAP does have real strength in a couple of important applications markets compared with that of Oracle. But its always nice to have a big brother around to help fight the bigger battles and SAP has enlisted one or two including IBM, to be just that. In one recent case however, it seems the little brother has helped the big brother fend off a common foe – you guessed it, Oracle.

SAP signed an agreement that makes it significantly more attractive financially for Coca Cola Inc. and Coca Cola Bottlers Co. Consolidated to toss out Oracle databases and replace them with DB2 as part of Coke’s SAP license.

Coke’s second largest bottler, based in Charlotte, N.C. was the first to make the switchover migrating 22 SAP systems over to DB2. The Charlotte shop still has eight to 10 Oracle databases in place, but clearly the future direction for Coke bottlers is Big Blue and not the Big Red stack.

The IT folks in Charlotte seem pretty pleased not only with the cost savings the switch over has given them, but also with the amount of time it has freed up for his IT staff to focus more on SAP.

“We have been pretty pleased with the performance, compression savings and things like the self-tuning memory with DB2. But now the DBAs doing the work have a lot more time to focus on SAP issues rather than Oracle issues,” said Tom DeJuneas, systems manager with Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated in Charlotte.

It’s not just the financial terms of the licensing deal that lured Coke and its bottlers towards IBM. It seems the close technical collaboration IBM and SAP have engaged in to better tie their respective products together has made a difference as well.

IBM officials last month were crowing about how this joint development work has paid off in dozens of companies migrating over to DB2 and SAP applications.

“There were tremendous dollar savings in going with the DB2 licenses, but when we started researching it and saw the advantages DB2 had to offer in working with SAP, it was a choice we wanted to make,” Dejuneas said.

With this growing technical symbiotic relationship between DB2 and SAP, Oracle increasingly may have to fight the database wars on two fronts.

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