SAPPHIRE US - SAP, IBM still chummy after BI acquisitions

SAPPHIRE US - SAP, IBM still chummy after BI acquisitions

SAP, Business Objects execs and customers discuss ongoing integration efforts at Sapphire conference

Executives from IBM and SAP said the two companies won't fall out even though they now compete head-on in the market for BI (business intelligence) software, with their respective purchases of Cognos and Business Objects.

SAP provides such a big chunk of business for IBM Global Business Services that the two sides are unlikely to disrupt their close partnership, said Don Mettica, an official from that unit, during a panel discussion at SAP's Sapphire conference in Orlando this week. "We see this space continuing to grow," he said.

SAP plunked down about US$6.8 billion for Business Objects in October, while IBM paid US$5 billion for Cognos in January.

That makes the companies serious rivals, but you wouldn't have known it from the discussion here at Sapphire.

"If you guys are cooking up something to squash us like a bug, it hasn't shown up yet," said Doug Merritt, SAP's executive vice president of performance optimization applications.

Another SAP official sounded a more measured note. "We all have to be cognizant of the fact there's some competition there and, you know what, let the best solution win," said Marge Breya, SAP's executive vice president of BI.

The panel's primary focus, though, was the ongoing integration of Business Objects with SAP's NetWeaver platform. SAP recently published a road map for the combined product set. Its plans include a new OLAP (online analytical processing) product that is set for a 2009 release.

An SAP customer on the panel said she welcomed SAP's move to buy Business Objects.

"We are extremely excited about the acquisition," said Katrina Coyle, BI manager for beverage maker Molson Coors. She described her company's BI implementation as fairly advanced and cited in particular the "much faster time line" Business Objects allows for building reports and dashboards.

"It was definitely the right time for SAP to have done this, to get more power out of their tools," she said.

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