SAP Watch

Mar 23 2006   5:37PM GMT

Food for thought on SAP vs. Oracle

ITKE ITKE Profile: ITKE reader Joe Yong submitted his comments on the SAP vs. Oracle feud and won our $100 Amazon gift certificate random prize. Here's his take on the SAP-Oracle issue.

"Oracle is a database company that has been trying to be something else for the past decade," Joe said. "From tools to office productivity to one-stop-shop and more. SAP did a little tap dance around that a few years back and quickly pulled back to their core competence.

At the end of the day, both will continue to exist but SAP will remain the leader and with a much stronger base.

Oracle has the right vision with Fusion middleware. They also have a few independently great pieces of technologies and a few lemons. That's not the issue here. Getting these things to really work together seamlessly and then making them usable to the rest of the world is the issue. SAP has that locked down pat. Sure, they don't have be friendliest or nicest interfaces but SAP has had an incredible track record with their thoroughness in the integration interfaces with SAP applications. From BAPI to DCOM connectors to Web Services, SAP applications are very accessible and already have thousands of customers that integrate their SAP systems with other apps and platforms. Oracle has a long way to go here.

I'm a database guy and have been working on databases for about 15 year, many of those spent along side ERP implementers (remember JBOPS?) Nobody has it figured out as well as SAP. After all, they were founded by a bunch of German, ex-IBMers. It isn't possible to have a more disciplined/structured combination than that."

Food for thought indeed. Another reader had this to say:

"My company has been using R/3 for seven years now in a manufacturing environment involving Make-To-Stock and Repetitive for Automotive," he said. "We use the full product from lead to cash and have implemented numerous modules in-house, along with an upgrade and opening a new company outside the U.S. We utilized almost no consulting to do it with total staff of 2 people assigned to SAP. Does this mean that Oracle would require 0.5 people? I think not. Yes, SAP is complicated, but I see this as a result of the flexibility available in the system."

Not everyone was in favor of Greenbaum's pro-SAP column, however.

"It appears Mr. Joshua Greenbaum is confused between Oracle Fusion Applications and Fusion Middleware," one reader said. "In his first point, he compared NetWeaver and Fusion stating 'SAP has been plugging away at its NetWeaver strategy for several years now, while Oracle recently updated analysts, the press, and some customers at a conference in San Francisco.'

Mr. Greenbaum was wrong in comparing NetWeaver and Fusion Applications. He was comparing apples and oranges. The correct comparison should be between SAP NetWeaver and Oracle Fusion Middleware — the middleware and technology foundation for the next-generation SAP applications and Oracle applications, respectively.
While NetWeaver is a reasonable default middleware stack for SAP customers, it is an inferior solution compared to the market leading middleware suites such as IBM WebSphere, BEA WebLogic and Oracle Fusion Middleware. Many of the NetWeaver components lag behind these market leading solutions, as rated by Gartner, Forrester Research, Burton Group, IDC and other industry analysts. According to these analysts, NetWeaver lags behind in integration, business process management, and master data management, etc. While IBM, BEA, and Oracle middleware suites are widely used in the SAP installed base, NetWeaver is rarely used, if at all, by non-SAP customers.

The reason is primarily due to the immaturity of many NetWeaver components. Furthermore, NetWeaver has many gaping holes. For example, it does not have an Enterprise Service Bus, SOA / Web Services Management, Identity Management, Business Activity Monitoring, and Business Rules Engine.
A house needs a strong foundation. Otherwise, it'll be toppled easily in a storm. It's same for the next-generation service-enabled applications. How can SAP win if it has a weak technology foundation, given the inferior SAP NetWeaver? In contrast, Oracle Fusion Middleware is rated leader in most major categories by Gartner and Forrester Research.
I encourage Mr. Greenbaum to check his facts and correct me if I am wrong."

Ouch. Fortunately, Josh had his share of fans too.

"While Faun's column seems outdated, as comparing SAP's R/3 era from 3 years ago to that of Oracle, Joshua clearly evaluates the situation given the transition the business applications market is going through. In short, Faun's column is looks back. Joshua's looking ahead."

Short and sweet. Here's a longer comment from another reader who found Josh's arguments to be solid.

"Greenbaum seems to be balanced and based on fact. DeHenry seems to be extremely biased and starts from a 'ain't oracle great' perspective without having any true perspective.

As to adaptability and flexibility, the goal of services over coding is rapid change WITHOUT coding. As DeHenry continues to misstate, the ability to code is NOT a business advantage if your competitor can rapidly assemble services faster from their ERP and other systems. That's WHY Oracle is re-architecting their system to match the services model that SAP has today in Netweaver. Oracle is changing and adapting to compete with SAP – not the other way around… Which kinda disproves the whole 'innovation free' statement. If SAP was adapting to make their architecture a database-coding effort, then it could be said the other way.

Companies who write code in the future will be passed by those with industrialized, open services. Otherwise, why not just have folks in India write your ERP system from scratch? Sounds like Oracle's amazing 'flexibility' comes down to that. Give me a SOA approach instead. I am interested in Fusion, but the only SOA approach I can buy today from a proven vendor is SAP."

These were just a handful of comments out of the big ol' SAP vs. Oracle mailbag that I and my SearchOracle editorial colleagues have received over the past couple weeks. Want to share your two cents? We're all ears — hit the 'comment' button on this post or submit them to me by e-mail at

Matt Danielsson

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