Wednesday, July 7, 2010

SAP versus Oracle

I'm going to channel my inner IT nerd today.

The German software giant SAP AG and the US/California based Oracle are competitors on a range of products, but none more intensely so that in ERP, (or, for the uninitiated, Enterprise Resource Planning). The Californians have a better name, in that it evokes the image I have displayed here. The word "sap" evokes an image in English too, but I don't think its something the Germans were going for.

Here's a link to a general commentary on the rivalry from back in 2006, and here is something more recent.

SAP's original business plan was to conquer the then-new ERP market, whereas Oracle seems to have bumbled into the field half by accident, through a series of acquisitions. They are an aggressive second-place runner, like "Avis" back in the day when there were only two rental car companies that counted, and Avis used to advertise: "We're number two. We try harder."

Here's a link to an issue of InfoWorld from August 1998, those golden days of the dotcom madness. Look at the column on the left, "ERP & Services Briefs." SAP's ERP suite was dominant, and other software companies were working to integrate with it in offering related services. But (says the second graf of that column): "versions for other ERP suites, such as Baan and Oracle, are in the works."

Oracle, as I've noted, has since made a big splash in this pond. What happened to Baan? That is a fairly tangled story, worth a separate entry.

So: what's my point? Only the old one that competition is good, even if it is only a duopoly. Keep it up, guys!

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