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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?
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.
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.
Okay, so I'm a sucker for nostalgia. But being on the same stage as Gilda Radner and John Belushi and John Candy and Tina Fey was a thrill. And being in the same studio where Elvis Costello and the Attractions stopped "Less Than Zero" after a few bars and jumped into "Radio Radio" in defiance of NBC's wishes brought a rebellious, empowered smile to my face.
NBC's Studio 8H, home of Saturday Night Live, is where Microsoft launched SharePoint 2010 and Office 2010 yesterday. It was a short, punchy, customer-filled event. These products are the latest in the "Wave 14" product set, a ginormous (as my 9-year old says) overhaul of the Office product line. And they're beauts. Here's my (admittedly enthusiastic) analysis of what Microsoft has accomplished with this product.
The lion awakens and roars.
Microsoft's Office business has taken a battering in the press as journalists chase stories about the important innovations from nimble startup competitors, open source alternatives, and Web-based productivity tools. But let's face it. Microsoft doesn't have 500,000,000 people using its tools for no reason. And while three years is a long time to wait for a product release (especially in this era of instant innovation via the Internet), Microsoft has re-confirmed its position as the most important driver of business productivity on the planet. This launch will crush the dreams of a 100 entrepreneurs and force another 1,000 to rethink their companies. That's okay. It's what happens when Microsoft turns a niche product for a geeky few into a global feature that anybody can use. As an economy, we need it.
In late breaking news today, SAP announced a definitive agreement to acquire Sybase for $5.8 billion. The deal will be accretive for SAP and is expected to close in July 2010. Sybase is a profitable company with revenues of $1.2 billion and $1 billion in cash. Sybase Chairman, CEO and President John S. Chen will become a member of SAP's Executive Board.
The deal is a good move by SAP mainly because it accelerates SAP’s innovation strategy, which is focused on in-memory computing, mobile device applications, analytics, and SaaS. Sybase brings assets to the table in each of these areas:
In-memory databases via its Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE) platform and SQL Anywhere.
Mobile applications development and device management via Sybase Unwired and Afaria.
Analytics via the Sybase IQ column oriented analytics server and complex event processing (CEP) technology.
Cloud computing is delivered via Sybase’s partnership with Amazon Web Services.
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.
Social media will spur dramatic evolutionary shifts in traditional BI architectures in several ways. For starters, vendors will bring the Wikipedia and Facebook models into the heart of their user experience, converging traditional BI with social networking, knowledge management, and collaboration architectures. Under this new “social BI” paradigm, vendors will provide information workers with tools for collecting vast pools of user-generated, subject-oriented, multimedia content, thereby supplementing and extending traditional data marts. By encouraging user-centric development of multimedia content stores, social media will accelerate the evolution of enterprise data warehouses into comprehensive “content warehouses.” By enabling applications to monitor and mine growing streams of social media content, the new generation of social BI platforms will accelerate the convergence of data mining, content analytics, and complex event processing. And this new BI platform paradigm will enable powerful social network analysis, sifting through continuing streams of transaction, behavioral, and sentiment data to identify influencers, net promoters, brand ambassadors, and other key relationships in online communities of all shapes and sizes.
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?”
This morning Microsoft launched SharePoint 2010, the follow-up to the very successful Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007. As the morning progresses, I receive more and more notifications from vendors that are announcing integration strategies for the new offering. Meanwhile, other vendors announce strategies to compete. The social computing vendors are no exception. No matter the strategy, it's clear that SharePoint is creating a market disruption that not only vendors but clients need to address in creating and updating broad collaboration strategies. Many Forrester clients have already begun this assessment process, as evidenced by my inquiry load over the past several months. One question has surfaced repeatedly:
Does SharePoint 2010 affect my plans for social in the enterprise?
Well, yes and no. Here's the 100,000 foot view. If you are committed to SharePoint you really need to take a look at what Microsoft delivers as part of 2010. For many, this release will reach the proverbial "good enough" bar. MySites, already a decent profiling service, continues to improve. Blogs and wikis, which were pretty dismal in MOSS 2007, are quite well done. Key missing elements like tags, tag clouds, community sites and activity streams are now part of the offering. Microblogs, a hot top of mind topic at the moment, are not quite there yet. Interesting. As Twitter explodes and Yammer continues to gain ground in the enterprise, SharePoint comes up short in microblogging. The reason? At least for the time being, SharePoint is dependent on a pretty traditional development cycle and microblogging exploded pretty late in the product development cycle. In other words, SharePoint is now clearly in the social game, but will play the role of fast follower for the time being.
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.
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.
Lock-in: PaaS products lock up your code in a single provider's environment.
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.
Whether you love it or hate it, Microsoft PowerPoint — aka slides, deck, .ppt or PPT (which I prefer) — is arguably the de facto medium for communicating complex information using charts, graphics and bullet points. And we’ve all been the victims and perpetrators of PPT eye charts and spaghetti diagrams … this of course excludes Forrester analysts (wink).
But this over reliance on PPT is a rising cause for concern — not just from the good people of BOTOX® warning us about the wrinkle damage caused by squinting to read small text — but from our armed forces. In a recent article in The New York Times, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the leader of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, explained that PPT is “dangerous because it can create the illusion of understanding and the illusion of control.” He banned the presentations when securing the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar in 2005, and even likened them to an internal threat. The most infamous of these “spaghetti” diagrams depicts the complexity of American strategy in Afghanistan, which General McChrystal remarked, “When we understand that slide, we’ll have won the war.”