SAP Watch


February 11, 2008  3:36 PM

Should SAP make a play for Salesforce.com?

JackDanahy Jack Danahy Profile: JackDanahy

An interesting tidbit today from SiliconValleyWatcher: according to an unnamed, “reliable” source, Salesforce.com has approached Oracle seeking to sell the company for $75 a share.

Tom Foremski lays out the reasons a buyout would make sense for Oracle and for Marc Benioff. I’m not sure I see the Salesforce.com side of it. Nevertheless, it’s certainly a fun thing to speculate and ponder. And as long as we’re doing that, we might as well speculate as to whether Salesforce.com wouldn’t be a better fit for SAP.

For now, we’ll leave aside whether SAP would be willing to pay that much, but an easy-to-use, established, on-demand application with a large base of customers would certainly help Walldorf get to its stated goal of 100,000 customers by 2010. Besides, SAP all but admitted when it rolled out Sales OnDemand that it was trying to keep customers from turning to Salesforce.com to get their CRM systems up and running quickly and easily.

And, while not really SAP’s style, buying a company founded by Marc Benioff, a Larry Ellison protégé, and partially funded by Larry Ellison, would certainly kick up the rivalry a notch.

Of course, this all could be a PR move to take the attention away from Microsoft-Yahoo as Dennis Howlett suggests. That’s certainly not something Salesforce.com is above.

Anyone remember the Wall Street Journal story from an unnamed source claiming Salesforce.com and Google were preparing a partnership? That gave Salesforce.com a nice bump in its stock price and a lot of press for a week. Until the “partnership” turned out to be an application that integrated Salesforce.com’s CRM system with Google AdWords.

February 5, 2008  11:47 AM

More to come with TomorrowNow suit?

JackDanahy Jack Danahy Profile: JackDanahy

While SAP is looking to unload its TomorrowNow division in the wake of Oracle’s lawsuit against the company, there may be more to the story. Most think the two companies will settle, but as reported by MarketWatch yesterday, Oracle hints at a more serious charges in the latest filing from the trial.

Here’s what Oracle says in the document, filed with the court on January 29th:

Virtually all discovery sought and received thus far has centered on Oracle’s current allegations. However, in the process of conducting this discovery, Oracle has uncovered a broader program of copyright infringement that is entirely different from the scheme alleged in the current complaint.

Based on this evidence, Oracle is gathering additional facts and analyzing the need to file an amended complaint that will encompass these new claims. It expects soon to share a draft amended complaint with Defendants, and to seek their agreement to allow the filing. If Defendants do not agree, Oracle will seek leave from the Court to file the amended complaint.

Not surprisingly, SAP disputes Oracle’s new claim:

Oracle claims to need more time to present a further amended complaint, yet it has not provided even the barest description of its supposed new claims, either to the Court or to Defendants. While there may be some discovery disputes (which Judge Legge will handle), and Oracle may want to take some follow-up depositions, no developments have occurred which justify changing the case schedule or discovery limits.

As a result of these new accusations, Oracle is requesting another Case Management hearing in about 60 days, at which time it would, “be able to make specific proposals for extending the time and limits on discovery.”

When this case was first brought to court, SearchSAP.com interviewed Hillard Sterling, an IT litigator with Freeborn & Peters LLP, a Chicago-based law firm. When asked about what we should expect from the case he said that Oracle would try to keep the case in the news:

This is a great weapon for Oracle — it’s rare and beneficial when a company has a lawsuit that is only a sword and not a shield. Usually, counterclaims come flying back at a plaintiff. Here, however, Oracle has a unilateral set of claims that it can press ahead with, with little fear of boomerang counterclaims.

We’re going to see some aggressive discovery from both sides, especially from Oracle. It will get messy before it gets clean.

We should know more in 60 days, but it would appear, at this point, that Sterling is right on.


January 30, 2008  10:19 AM

Aggressive goals for Business ByDesign

JackDanahy Jack Danahy Profile: JackDanahy

It is well documented that in order for SAP to achieve its goal of 100,000 customers by 2010, the midmarket will have to play a large role. Specifically, Business ByDesign (BBD), SAP’s new software as a service (SaaS) offering for the midmarket, will be leaned on heavily to achieve this growth.

In SAP’s earnings press conference today, the company put some numbers to the impact it expects Business ByDesign to have. CEO Henning Kagermann said SAP hopes to grow the Business ByDesign customer base from the current 150 to 1,000 by the end of 2008. Perhaps more surprising, he said that SAP sees 10,000 customers and $1 billion in “revenue potential” for the product by 2010.

Is this realistic? In SAP’s 2007 earnings filing, it reported $182 million in revenue from “subscription and other software related service revenue.” Even if all of that were attributable to Business ByDesign, which it is obviously not, it would represent a 75% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for BBD revenues to reach $1 billion by the end of 2010.

SAP will be investing €175 – €225 towards the effort in 2008, so it is clear that the company is committed. But it also appears to have its work cut out for it.

SearchSAP.com editorial staff


January 14, 2008  11:44 AM

What SAP customers/users should watch for in 2008 — Part 2

JackDanahy Jack Danahy Profile: JackDanahy

“What is the most important thing that SAP customers/users/etc should watch for in 2008?” Here is the response, from an upcoming Forrester report, we received from Ray Wang, Principal Analyst, Forrester Research:

SAP’s acquisition of Business Objects was out of pattern for SAP, which historically has grown organically with some small spot acquisitions. In terms of scale, the Business Objects deal will continue to be an exception for SAP – we don’t expect SAP to make other acquisitions of this size, and certainly not of large application vendors. However, SAP will be a more active acquirer of mid-size software companies with middleware products that help SAP strength its NetWeaver platform. NetWeaver lags behind the IBM WebSphere, Oracle Fusion, or Microsoft .NET application server platforms, which are the core of any service-oriented architecture. So, SAP will make some mid-size acquisitions, maybe Open Text in enterprise content management or Amber Point in runtime governance, but while it may make sense to us, we do not expect them to make a bid for BEA Systems nor become an active buyer of mid-size app vendors.

We do expect SAP to make small-scale acquisitions that will add or improve capabilities in the NetWeaver middleware tools that partners and customers need to build out last-mile solutions. In fact, SAP doesn’t need to make big acquisitions to fill these holes. SAP will no longer be the bottom-fish acquirer of small vendors ($10-$50 million in revenues) with promising technology that it can build on and extend. Instead, it will become more aggressive in buying vendors in the $100-$500 million revenue range in order to gain more mature and proven products that it can plug into its middleware portfolio. The October 17th, 2007 acquisition of YASU, a BPM tool provider provides another proof point. For this reason, the need for better tools in its NetWeaver stack such as UI, BPM, App Server, ETL, Hosting, MDM and others will drive SAP to acquire smaller vendors who provide key commoditized infrastructure solutions, while it will continue to use partnerships at the application level to drive new capability (see Figure 4).

In short, we think SAP APPS will remain mostly home grown, but middleware components will have to be acquired.

Business process and apps professional have always been able to count on SAP to provide a coherent, consistent application portfolio. Its few acquisitions of applications have been quickly converted over to and absorbed within the portfolio. SAP users can count on that to continue. However, SAP will be making more acquisitions of middleware and information management vendors like Business Objects to strengthen the NetWeaver platform and incorporate products like content management and business intelligence that increasingly will be combined with process applications. So, SAP users will have to get used to SAP adding non-application software to its portfolio, with the resulting product rationalization roadmaps to be navigated. Users of the software that SAP acquires can be confident that those products will continue to be enhanced and improved, as well as absorbed into the widely used SAP product set.

Do the words of Ray Wang resonate with you? What are your predictions for the world of SAP in 2008? Leave comments, We want to know!

SearchSAP.com Editorial Staff


January 7, 2008  11:30 AM

What SAP customers/users should watch for in 2008

JackDanahy Jack Danahy Profile: JackDanahy

What should we expect from SAP in 2008? We want to know! SearchSAP.com asked the same question when speaking to analysts: “What is the most important thing that SAP customers/users/etc should watch for in 2008?” Here is one response we received from Derek Prior, Research Director specializing in SAP at AMR Research:

My research into best practices for SAP customers reveals one word which sums up every single SAP customer: BUSY!

Busy with projects for SAP roll outs, upgrades, consolidations and extensions. As an SAP analyst now for nearly 10 years I have just one recommendation for busy SAP customers when reviewing their checklists for 2008:

Work with the Enterprise Architects (EA) team within your company to integrate your SAP Solution Architecture into your company-wide, business-driven, EA blueprint. Smart companies are already doing this for 3 reasons:

  1. To build your SAP Solution Architecture into your companies EA big picture, in order to break out of your SAP “silo”.
  2. To make your SAP gurus all business-driven, speaking the language of business, not IT.
  3. To be ready for real SOA, i.e. strategic deployment, when your company is ready.

Add this activity which I am sure you have forgotten, to your checklist – it will pay off big time for your business.

Do the words of Derek Prior resonate with you? What are your predictions for the world of SAP in 2008? Leave comments, We want to know!

SearchSAP.com Editorial Staff


December 19, 2007  10:50 PM

New SAP CRM capabilities good news for CRM users

JackDanahy Jack Danahy Profile: JackDanahy

SAP recently concluded a three-day SAP CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Customer Value network meeting in Dallas, TX. SearchSAP.com’s CRM expert Srinivasa Katta was there on the scene. This is what he had to say:

The meeting was attended by customers such as HP, Bentley Systems, EarthLink, Synopsys, Varian Medical Systems, Pentair, Grainger and several other customers and prospects. SAP demonstrated CRM’s new Web 2.0 capabilities, including Web services as a way to exchange data between SAP CRM 2007, SAP systems and non-SAP systems. For example, An insurance company running an SAP CRM system typically needs integration with non-SAP claims management and policy management systems. This integration effort would become easier and more cost effective with CRM 2007’s web services features.

SAP also demonstrated the new flexible and easy to use singular Web UI (CRM Web UI). Before SAP CRM 2007, the normal CRM user struggled with the SAP GUI, a web based IC WebClient user interface, and PCUI (People Centric User Interface) based on ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning). The users were forced to use one or more of the three user interfaces based on what CRM components they needed to access.

With SAP CRM 2007, SAP has finally provided a clear road map in regards to the user interface thanks to CRM Web UI; the web based zero footprint user interface. This means that SAP CRM users no longer require the PCUI to provide web-based access to the SAP CRM system. The PCUI is now optional if you are planning to access business intelligence and SAP ERP along with SAP CRM. SAP provided UI configuration tools and design layer customizing tools that will assist power users in changing the look and feel of the UI without knowledge of programming.

The bottom line:
CRM 2007 delivers a real time management offering along with a host of marketing, sales and service features. Overall the customer feedback on SAP CRM 2007 is positive.

Everyone has heard negative comments about SAP CRM — stories about how it’s difficult to use and companies that purchase SAP CRM in a package do not even utilize it’s capabilities.

Read more about the new SAP CRM update and tell us what you think. Are you excited about these new capabilities or do you remain skeptical about SAP CRM? From what you’ve seen/heard, has SAP changed your mind about SAP CRM?


December 4, 2007  6:13 PM

SAP and Microsoft in talks?

JackDanahy Jack Danahy Profile: JackDanahy

Yesterday, rumors surfaced that Microsoft was in talks to acquire SAP. The news bumped SAP’s shares up, and notched Microsoft’s down.

Of course, in 2004, the antitrust case surrounding Oracle’s acquisition of PeopleSoft revealed that SAP and Microsoft had briefly and unsuccessfully talked about merging.

As luck would have it, SAP CEO Henning Kagermann was in Boston today for the SAP Influencer Summit to give a keynote and hold a press conference. When asked, point blank, whether SAP and Microsoft had discussions about a possible acquisition, Kagermann responded with a quick, definitive “no.”

So, this time it appears the rumor was just that.

Jon Franke
News Editor


November 14, 2007  6:21 PM

SAP ABAP: Dead or alive?

JackDanahy Jack Danahy Profile: JackDanahy

Veteran SAP career expert Jon Reed has fielded quite a few questions from ABAP developers concerned about SAP’s apparent focus on Java over ABAP. Indeed, things have had a distinct Java-flavor lately, which Reed discusses in depth in his most recent guest column, What SAP says about the future of ABAP.

As a follow-up, he asked Thomas Jung, who presented “ABAP Development: Update Your Skills to SAP NetWeaver 7.0” at TechEd Las Vegas this year, to take a look at the column and add any clarifications. Here is what Jung had to say:

Jon, nice article. I did see one thing I thought was interesting. You said, ‘But there’s no question that when it comes to designing new enterprise services, Java is the language of choice in most cases.’ You might want to ask someone at SAP what nearly all of Business Suite and Business by Design Enterprise Services are written in. You will find that the answer isn’t Java. But you make an excellent point in this article: does it really matter if the Enterprise Services themselves are written in Java or ABAP? No, not as long as the results are ‘open standards based.’

Jung went on to add:

Yes, to the outside world, it really doesn’t matter if it is ABAP or Java, since either way, the services are exposed via open standards. That is true. But at the same time, it is important to note that we continue to leverage the investment SAP, its partners and its customers have already made in the business logic written in ABAP.

Our eSOA strategy doesn’t mean that you have to discard that investment. Quite the opposite. You can continue to gain benefit from that investment while also extending it to new and open opportunities.

Perhaps the most important point Jung wanted to get across to us, and to the readers of this blog, is that the question of whether Enterprise Services are written in ABAP or Java is not the most key issue. Jung wants us to remember Vishal Sikka’s message that the underlying programming language is not as crucial as understanding how SAP is “wrapping” the code and exposing applications via Enterprise SOA.

So how do we summarize the question of whether ABAP is dead? We can start by saying that you can’t answer it completely in one blog entry. We’ll return to this topic frequently as more information comes to light.

But for now, we can safely say that ABAP is not going anywhere. It’s also becoming clear that whether you’re an SAP ABAP person or an SAP Java person, if you don’t make a commitment to understanding the latest generation of modeling tools (CE, Visual Composer, Aris for NetWeaver, etc.), and how they fit into the emerging Enterprise Architecture, you’re going to be left behind.

As of this writing, the final word on “is ABAP dead?” is not “yes” or “no.” The answer is that we’re asking the wrong question.

Jon Reed & Matt Danielsson


November 12, 2007  7:17 PM

Yoda, Einstein and the SAP pro

JackDanahy Jack Danahy Profile: JackDanahy

Humor is one way to deal with the daily frustrations that can plague a career in SAP. As a Star Wars fan, I enjoyed the following barb (please read in Yoda’s voice) “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to ABAP.” And here’s one more, “Einstein decided to become a physicist only after failing as an SD consultant, when tasked to configure Resource Related billing.” Ouch! Both zingers came from the SAP Facts – Chuck Norris style website.

Sure, SAP humor can be a hoot – and it does help alleviate frustration – but the best cure is to actually get an answer and end a specific SAP frustration. Wouldn’t it be cool to tap into the combined knowledge of your colleagues when you run up against an SAP roadblock? Well, now you can – on IT Knowledge Exchange.

We’ve completely redesigned IT Knowledge Exchange to make it easier than ever to collaborate with your peers. And since you’re already a member of SearchSAP.com, you can log in using your same email address and password.

Are you an SAP guru? Then drop by to answer a question to help a colleague out. Looking for SAP answers? Then search our knowledge base or pose your own question to your peers.

We’re building a community and we want you to be a part of it. IT Knowledge Exchange is free, gratis, cost nothing to use… so come interact with your peers and help create an essential IT resource. You can learn how to use IT Knowledge Exchange by visiting our ITKE Community Blog.

Brent Sheets
Community Manager


November 8, 2007  5:44 PM

H1B visa update: No increased fees

JackDanahy Jack Danahy Profile: JackDanahy

H1B visas have remained a hot button topic for SAP professionals for some time, and we’ve covered it quite a bit over the years. Last we heard, there was legislation put into motion to more than triple the H1B application fee, from $1,500 to $5,000. The influx of money would be used to fund new scholarships for U.S. students to the tune of $15,000 annually for qualified computer science students.

Well, that probably won’t happen after all. InformationWeek just reported that the amendment is most likely about the get the boot, which comes as good news to Microsoft, Sun and others who have gone on the record to support easing and increasing H1B visas. They view the H1B visa program as a key component of staying competitive and adequately staffing projects with the best and brightest in the world.

Not surprisingly, American IT workers and consultants beyond the SAP world are less than thrilled. observed that:

“…By depressing the IT salaries, the H1B program has had an unforeseen effect, depressing the enrollment of students in IT training programs in U.S. Universities. Qualified students, seeing that IT positions no longer carry the prestige, high demand and salaries they once commanded have chosen more prestigious, higher paying, or less demanding majors.”

Ashley also quoted anti-H1B crusader Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) from a speech earlier this year:
“The H1B program was intended to fill jobs for a temporary amount of time while the country invested in American workers to pick up the skills they needed […] Unfortunately, the H1B program is so popular that it’s now replacing the U.S. labor force.”

Clearly, the H1B battle rages on with no signs of slowing down. We’ll continue to track the developments in the months ahead.

Matt Danielsson
Editor


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