First of all, please ignore the fact that I work for SAP. The following are my personal views based on almost 30 years in the IT industry and should certainly not be taken as based on any SAP official position.
I used to work for a hardware vendor. It was called DEC when I joined it and Digital when I left. It was bought by another company and then by HP. My first SAP exposure was as part of Digital’s SAP competence centre, where my job was to help the hardware salespeople convince potential SAP customers that they should use Digital hardware.
Because I worked for Digital, in the mid-90s I used to care about what hardware customers would chose. I really believed that Digital’s operating system was the best choice at the time. Then I joined SAP the organization and become “hardware and database agnostic” – as long as it was SAP’s products that were being bought, I didn’t care what combination the customer used.
The situation nowadays is a bit different. First of all, we have Windows as a platform. The natural choice here is SQL Server. Then there’s IBM as a platform, which tends to be using DB2 as the database of choice. The other Unices (old Latin habits die hard) tend towards Oracle. Please note, I am not quoting any sort of official numbers, just my gut feel from 400+ students who come through my training courses a year.
So, if Oracle buys Sun, what does it mean? Some analysts are suggesting doom and gloom for SAP. They think that Oracle as a one stop shop will mean fewer SAP sales and implementations.
I think they misunderstand why people buy software solutions. It isn’t to find something to run on the hardware they bought. Despite what some techies think, the hardware is there to support the software, not the other way round. OK, so if I choose Sun as my hardware platform, probably the salesperson will do a deal for the database to run, but does that lead to “and by the way, why not buy Oracle’s ERP solution”? I don’t think so. The hardware choice is mostly done after the software selection, not before.