SAP Grabs at Infrastructure Share
Last week at SAP Tech Ed, SAP announced that they would build an
app server (think BEA) and an integration product (think Tibco,
WebMethods). All the analysts and reporters at the press conference
immediately headed for the really excellent refreshments table.
The eggheads didn't care or didn't believe. But the gearheads did.
Every session on these new products was so packed that they didn't
just run low on handouts, they ran low on oxygen.
Why? The new products would be a provide a more or less good way of dealing with three
problems that most CIOs consider insoluble. They are:
- SAP products are hardware hogs big time.
- Integration costs are the kudzu of the IT budget--ugly, slowly taking over, and impossible to stop.
- Every new application requires its own net and hardware infrastructure.
CIOs would have a single platform for running SAP, for creating and running middleware, and for doing application development.
(The app server runs native Java and ABAP.)
That would cost less money. The CIO could consolidate the SAP hardware (now proliferating as fast as slums in Sao Paolo).
The CIO could use a single integration platform that is arguably as good as or better than whatever he
is trying to standardize on now. And he could run some custom code on the SAP app server.
To the small community that understands what these things are, the promised products
are as much of a gimme as "single integrated business application" was to C-level
executives back when SAP was peddling that.
"Promised" is the key word, of course. The first products won't be ready for at least a year, probably more, and
the eventual provision of full functionality will be evolutional. That's right. Long time coming. No immediate
revenue effect. Significant risk that it will never have an effect.
But less risk than SAP's last attempt to grab a new market, the APO product that Hasso promised to withdraw
if it wasn't best in breed in three years. (Hint: it isn't.)
There are three reasons that there's less risk.
- SAP really does understand all this gearhead stuff and has a passion for it.
- Customers are really upset about how much it costs to run and they won't upgrade unless something
is done about it.
- The underlying designs are extensions of things that SAP already does. SAP already has an app server
for ABAP; they are "just" rebuilding it so it runs Java, too.
The name of the game in the enterprise apps market is to sell more
to your installed base. With this announcement, SAP is insuring
that its customers will continue to commit to it as the core application,
is creating something new it can sell to them, and is giving people
yet another reason to replace old apps with new SAP modules.
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