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Convergence in the BI World for SAP - The Data Man

Convergence in the BI World for SAP

The BI space is changing as larger players try and muscle their way into the marketplace. Not that many years ago SAP purchase BusinessObjects (a company I know well) for $6.8 million, which itself had only a few years previously (2003) merged with Crystal Decisions. Now SAP has gone and purchased Sybase (another company I know well). There are other situations like this going on around us like IBM purchase of Netezza (at time of writing still ongoing), they also brought Cognos in 2007.
So what does this all mean for SAP? I must admit up front to having absolutely no inside knowledge as to SAP’s intentions but I though it would be interesting to lay out a few ideas of my own that they might (or might not) be considering. So what follows are my musings and thoughts and should be treated as such and have do not represent SAP official strategy or direction.
So let’s look at a few of the BI companies SAP has actually purchased and how they may relate to the melting pot of technologies that is SAP’s BI portfolio. BI related purchases so far are:
2007, Pilot Software: 
2007, Outlooksoft
2008, BusinessObjects
2010, Sybase:
Based on what I’ve read this shapes up as follows.
Financial applications and tools:
  • With the purchase of BusinessObjects in 2007 SAP gained Cartesis which is a financial planning and analytics software product. This will now be SAP’s financial consolidation offering replacing SEM-BCS.
  • Outlooksoft, now called SAP Business Planning and Consolidation, is replacing SAP BI-IP/SEM-BPS and Business Objects Planning.
  • Pilot, now known as SAP Strategy Management, is the offering in the enterprise-wide business strategy space.
General BI visualisation tools:
  • BusinessObjects’ Crystal Reports is now SAP’s main enterprise-grade reporting tool
  • BusinessObjects’ Xcelsius will remain SAP’s main dashboard product.
  • For ad-hoc querying and reporting Web Intelligence will be the standard offering.
  • A new offering called Voyager will combine the best of the OLAP offering from both vendors.
Back End Implication and changes:
  • The purchase of Sybase provides a number of database technologies in the form of the ASE and IQ products. IQ will make a great addition to the BW architecture as it will be like having an injection of steroids as its arguably one of the leading products in the columnar DBMS market.
  • SAP MDM will combine the MDM technologies form both companies.
But what about the things that aren’t mentioned and I believe these could be more interesting that the above:
  • Does anyone remember HOLOS? It used to be a mainstream, high end OLAP player until the purchase of HOLOS by Seagate Software. The subsequently purchase in 2003 of Crystal Decisions sees BusinessObjects acquire this technology. I’ve since heard not a dickey bird on the subject. I suspect it’s been forgotten about in the melee of acquisitions. Wouldn’t the combination of Sybases IQ and HOLOS underpinning BW be an explosive offering?
  • Back in 1999 Sybase purchased a small company called the ‘Data Warehouse Network’ run by an old boss of mine called Sean Kelly. Sean and the team had developed a series of industry focused data warehouse templates which competed against the equivalent offerings from IBM, NCR and Oracle. When Sybase purchased the company they changed the name to the IWS (Industry Warehouse Studio). I suspect these templates if integrated into the current BW offering would exponentially expand its capabilities and customer appeal.
Well there ends my ramblings on this subject.

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