SAP Acquires Sybase – What’s The Strategic Intent Behind The Deal?

Holger Kisker

SAP today announced an agreement to acquire Sybase, Inc. for $5.8billion. Sybase has a broad portfolio of solutions, so the question comes to mind: what is the strategy, the driving force behind the deal? What are the Sybase crown jewels that SAP is after?

The main three assets Sybase brings to SAP are obviously a database, a mobile infrastructure and real-time analytics. Is it the combination of all of these assets or is there a distinct difference between those portfolio elements? Here are some first thoughts from my side on SAP’s strategic intention for the deal:

This deal is not focused on Sybase’s database assets. Why?

  1. The Sybase market share on databases is too small to make a big difference for SAP. Most SAP applications are currently running on Oracle, and there is little appetite in the market for replacement projects.
  2. SAP is Oracle’s biggest database reseller and makes significant business out of this and won’t shoot itself in the foot. Thus they will of course continue to sell and support Oracle, DB2, etc…  Anyways it’s an important element of SAP’s strategy to support multiple databases, but first it means investment to extend this support to the new family member (Sybase’s database is currently not supported!). In the long run, however, it won’t hurt to have in-house database expertise as the market changes and new opportunities will come.
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BI Implications Of SAP-Sybase Deal - Plenty

Boris Evelson

By Boris Evelson

The obvious:

  • SAP gets its own relational (Sybase ASE) and analytical (Sybase IQ) DBMS. Why is this a positive since SAP already has tight partnerships with major DBMS and DW vendors such as Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, Teradata, and HP? Simple. First, SAP can now control the code. Second, SAP can now potentially reduce reliance on DBMS partners, most of whom (Oracle, IBM, Microsoft) have their own full software stacks and therefore compete, often putting a strain on partnership relationships. True, Sybase ASE has a rather low market penetration, other than on Wall St (see Stefan Ried's blog), but since SAP BW takes care of most of the traditional RDBMS design and implementation tasks, Sybase could be positioned as a black box engine under BW, that does not require separate design, administration and maintenance environment. *** Update. SAP just confirmed that each of its applications can run on an independent database, so having mixed DBMS platforms under ERP and BW will not be an issue.
  • SAP also gets highly relevant (for low latency BI) and currently missing CEP technolgy from the Sybase Aleri acquisition and an OEM version of Coral8.
  • SAP customers may also benefit from advanced analytics from Fuzzy Logix, integrated and embdded in SybaseIQ
  • Sybase gets a badly needed BI front end on top of its Sybase IQ analytical DBMS. While Sybase is leading the market in the columnar DBMS, it is somewhat challenged selling and positioning the product with the business buyers, since they can’t really see, feel, or touch it.
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Social Media Will Play A Big Part In BI's Future

Noel Yuhanna

When preparing for our upcoming Forrester Data Management Tweet Jam (May 13th, 2-3pm ET) -“What BI is Not!”- we got together with a few of Forrester’s data management and BI analysts to discuss some of today’s key BI questions.

The question on the table was, “How will social media impact traditional BI?”

Here’s a snapshot of what we talked about:

Jim Kobielus: (Twitter: @jameskobielus)

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Social Media Will Play A Big Part In BI’s Future

Holger Kisker

When preparing for our upcoming Forrester Data Management Tweet Jam (May 13th, 2-3pm ET/8-9pm CET) -“What BI is Not!”- a few of Forrester’s data management and BI analysts got together to discuss some of today’s key BI questions.

One of the questions on the table was, “How will social media impact traditional BI?”

The snapshot below of what we talked about is posted on several of Forrester’s blog spaces. We’d love to hear your thoughts on this intriguing topic. Share them here, and, if you’d like to hear more about this and other important BI questions, join the discussion on Twitter this Thursday (May 13th, 2-3pm ET/8-9pm CET). We’ll be using the #dmjam hashtag.

Tweet you there!

Jim Kobielus: (Twitter: @jameskobielus)

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Platform-As-A-Service, Chapter 2

John R. Rymer

Platform-as-a-service -- application development platforms running in clouds -- are entering a new phase of evolution, and not a moment too soon. I've become interested in a new set of products I'm calling "adaptive PaaS" (for lack of a better term) that I think will make the benefits of cloud computing available to a lot more development shops. I'm doing a webinar on this topic May 20th with Appistry's Sam Charrington. I hope you can join the discussion.

As I described in my early reports on PaaS, these products include full development tooling, runtime services, and administration and management tools. While complete, most of these "full PaaS" products are best for new applications, and they incorporate much proprietary technology. Consequence: Many if not most clients are still saying "no" to PaaS for two reasons.

  1. Lock-in: PaaS products lock up your code in a single provider's environment.
  2. Poor fit: Too many PaaS products just aren't strong for core business applications, particularly for rehosting existing applications.

These limitations often prompt developers who want the flexibility of cloud computing to use IaaS platforms like Amazon EC2 instead of PaaS. With IaaS, developers can code in the language and frameworks they choose, reducing lock-in and ensuring a good platform-application fit. As a result, while we see both interest and adoption of software-as-a-service (full applications) and infrastructure-as-a-service (virtual servers, storage, and networks), PaaS is lagging in adoption.

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Transform Business Processes Through Business Analytics

Boris Evelson

co-authored by Clay Richardson, James Kobielus, Craig Le Clair

Boris, Clay, Jim, and Craig get together in this podcast to talk about their upcoming Forrester IT Forum presentation.


An Analyst's Day

Holger Kisker

5:30am, the family sleeps and it’s time to prepare – today is Analyst Day in Frankfurt. I’m on the road 2h45min before the event starts (1h20min should be sufficient) but sometimes the traffic is terrible. Last week I missed a flight because the highway was completely closed after an accident and I had to give up after 3h driving for nothing. When the concern of missing an appointment slowly turns into certainty, these are the moments that cost me some of my (remaining) hair.

(Of course) I arrive much too early, but other analysts are already there (probably they don’t sleep at all). Plenty of time to look through my presentation again for some final adjustments and for some small talk with customers that arrived early.

1min before the kick-off, I make the last slide changes and load it to the presentation laptop. Another analyst colleague goes first. I have seen some of the slides a hundred times and look around at the faces of the attendees. For most, it’s the first time they see e.g. our market sizing and forecasting data, and they make hectic notes into their notebooks. They don’t know yet that we will distribute all slides after the event. I’m getting a bit nervous, but I’m used to it. When I'm not nervous any more before a presentation, it’ll get boring for me and the audience, and I should probably do something else.

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Want to know what Forrester's lead data analysts are thinking about BI and the data domain?

Boris Evelson

By Boris Evelson

What is BI? There are two prevailing definitions out there – broad and narrow. The broad definition (using our own) is that BI is a set of methodologies, processes, architectures, and technologies that transform raw data into meaningful and useful information used to enable more effective strategic, tactical, and operational insight and decision-making. But if we stick to this definition then shouldn’t we include data integration, data quality, master data management, data warehousing and portals in BI? I know lots of folks would disagree and fit these into data management or information management segments, but not BI.

Then, the narrow definition is used when referring to just the top layers of the BI architectural stack such as reporting, analytics and dashboards. But even there, as Jim Kobielus and I discovered as we were preparing to launch our BI TechRadar 2010 research, we could count over 20 (!) product categories such as Advanced Analytics, Analytical Performance Management, Scorecards, BI appliances and BI SaaS, BI specific DBMS, BI Workspaces, Dashboards, Geospatial analytics, Low Latency BI, Metadata Generated BI Apps, Non modeled exploration and In-memory analytics, OLAP, Open Source BI and SaaS BI, Packaged BI Apps, Process / Content Analytics, Production reports and ad-hoc query builders, Search UI for BI, Social Network / Media Analytics, Text analytics, Web Analytics.


To make matters worse, some folks out there are now trying to clearly separate BI and analytics, by trying to push a “core, traditional BI is commoditized, analytics is where differentiation is today” message. Hmmm, I thought I was building analytical apps using OLAP starting back in the early 80’s.


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Not all BI self service capabilities are created equal

Boris Evelson

By Boris Evelson

There’s a lot of hype out there by many vendors who claim that they have tools and technologies to enable BI end user self service. Do they? When you analyze whether your BI vendor can support end user self service, consider the following types of “self service” and related BI tool requirements:

#1. Self service for average, casual users.

  • What do these users need to do?
    • Run and lightly customize canned reports and dashboards
    • Run ad hoc queries
    • Add calculated measures
    • Collaborate
    • Fulfill their BI requirements with little or no training (typically one needs search-like, not point-and-click UI for this)
  • What capabilities do they need for this?
    • Report and dashboard templates
    • Customizable prompts, sorts, filters, and ranks
    • Report, query, dashboard building wizards
    • Portal
    • Semantic layer (not all BI vendor have a rich semantic layer)
    • Prompting for columns (not all BI vendors let you do that)
    • Drill anywhere  (only BI vendors with ROLAP and multisourcing / data federation provide this capability)

#2. Self service for advanced, power users

  • What do these users need to do?
    • Perform what-if scenarios (this often requires write back, which very few BI vendors allow)
    • Add metrics, measures, and hierarchies not supported by the underlying data model (typically one needs some kind of in-memory analytics capability for this)
    • Explore based on new (not previously defined) entity relationships (typically one needs some kind of in-memory analytics capability for this)
    • Not knowing exactly what one is looking for (typically one needs search-like UI for this)
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The Definition of Complexity Is A Complex Matter

Jost Hoppermann

Recently, I discussed complexity with a banker working on measuring and managing complexity in a North American bank. His approach is very interesting: He found a way to operationalize complexity measurement and thus to provide concrete data to manage it. While I’m not in a position to disclose any more details, we also talked about the nature of complexity. In absence of any other definition of complexity, I offered a draft definition which I have assembled over time based on a number of “official” definitions. Complexity is the condition of:

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