In October 2008, Forrester Research published a report titled, “Which Has The Better Apps Strategy: Oracle or SAP?”. The executive summary of the report stated that “Oracle’s vision for the future of its apps business is now clearer and more compelling that that of archrival SAP”.
Forrester based the report on a number of criteria including: market share, growth rate, clarity of vision, migration path to latest release, etc. Without going into too much detail, in my view, the report presented a biased view of SAP strategy. In the report, a table titled, “Oracle Versus SAP: 2008 Assessment”, was published to compare SAP and Oracle offerings. This table had columns for Criteria for Success, and Comments on who wins.
For category, “Vision for next generation”, Forrester gave Oracle the advantage by saying that Oracle has a clear vision for Fusion Applications and a timetable to deliver it.
My objection is that SAP had already delivered on its vision of eSOA enabled applications. So it isn’t a vision any more, it is a reality. Oracle has yet to prove its vision. So where is the advantage?
Secondly, in category “Path to Dynamic Business Applications”, Forrester compared Fusion Applications with Business ByDesign rather than Business Suite. It is like comparing apples with oranges. Moreover, the notion of role-based UIs, embedded BI, easy customization, and business services based composite apps, which Forrester used to give Oracle the edge, was presented by SAP over 6 years ago. Once again, SAP has moved beyond the vision stage and is already delivering on that vision.
Oracle has strength in Application Server and Middleware market, but the overall product strategy remains fragmented and unproven for now. Forrester gave the edge to Oracle’s future application strategy. We need to keep in mind that by the time Oracle delivers on its strategy, SAP would also have moved on. There are several other discrepancies in the report which show that it presented an unbalanced view.
However, the reason beind writing this blog is not Forrester report. It is the latest articles published on CIO UK and ComputerWorld UK websites on the proceedings of latest SAP User Group Conference in Manchester, UK. Amongst keynote speakers was ex-Forrester analyst, R “Ray “Wang, one of the writers of the above mentioned report. In the keynote, Ray Wang listed 5 SAP failures:
- Business ByDesign
- Solution Manager
- Enterprise Support
Ray’s views were also published in a blog by SAP Mentor, Dennis Howlett.
Today, SAP has announced that the rise in Enterprise Support Fee has been delayed after consultation with SAP User Group Executive Network. We also know that there are serious issues in Solution Manager adoption, and Business ByDesign delivery. I am not aware of Duet adoption figures. May be someone from SAP can shed some light on how many organizations are using it. IBM has also partnered with SAP to integrate Lotus Notes with SAP applications. Let’s see how much that sells.
SAP, like any other vendor, can’t get everything right from the start. However, everyone who has seen SDN transform into SCN knows how much SAP has changed over the years. The vibrant ecosystem and over 1 million SCN members is a proof of that. What I find most objectionable in Ray’s keynote is calling NetWeaver a failure. Ray Wang asked how many attendees used NetWeaver for end-to-end integration. Only a handful of the attendees confirmed. So Ray’s view was that since NetWeaver was supposed to help organizations integrate their business processes end-to-end, the negative response by customers proves NetWeaver is a failure.
I find this conclusion over-simplistic, and objected to Ray’s views on Dennis’ blog post. The community is also welcome to share their views. To me, asking the audience a question like “how many of you use NetWeaver for end-to-end integration” has an obvious answer…hardly any! The qualification “end-to-end” will result in probably a few hundred customers globally. Reason is simple: most of SAP customers aren’t running SAP end-to-end. This can be for any number of reasons: business fit, risk mitigation, strategic investments, technical evaluation, organizational structure/decision making, enterprise architecture, budget, etc.
What I feel strongly about is that no one in the audience stood up to challenge Ray’s views. The articles on CIO and ComputerWorld websites, being read by millions of decision makers and end users around the world, give Oracle a clear opportunity for bad press against SAP.
SAP’s Tim Noble said: “SAP has a strong focus on innovation as a company, as well as co-innovation with both partners and customers alike. We have a clear roadmap until 2012 that has been announced publicly, and we will have more announcements next year as we stated at the time of our Q3 earnings. Putting the customer at the heart of our organisation is our main objective and listening to their innovation needs, as well as better communicating our plans is critical to our plan now and moving into 2010.”
However, I feel that the whole SCN community, or at least the NetWeaver community, has a responsibilty to publicly state their views on NetWeaver’s success or failure.
Over the last few years, SAP has opened its doors to professional bloggers to reach out to the wider audience. I think these bloggers should also present SAP’s side of story to balance the argument presented by Ray Wang.
Disclaimer: The views presented in this blog are my own, and do not represent the views of my employer.