SAP aims for top position in database market

by Brian Pereira, InformationWeek, May 30, 2012

SAP has a plan to migrate its large base of application users to its database platform. It already has the fastest growing share in the database market and is eyeing the number two position by 2013

SAP, a maker of enterprise applications, is now focusing on attaining leadership in the database market. In fact, it has the fastest growing market share in databases. But what chance does SAP have in surpassing database giants like Oracle, IBM and Microsoft? The short answer: Innovation, stellar products like HANA, Sybase IQ, and Sybase ASE, and its 170,000 base of application customers. Incidentally, Sybase (now a SAP company) has a long innings in India with a strong ISV community that SAP will leverage. In other words, it is the applications that will get SAP to the number two position that it is eyeing.

Steve Lucas, Global Executive Vice President and General Manager, Database & Technology, SAP, unveiled the company’s strategy to become the fastest growing database vendor at the SAP Forum Mumbai. The strategy, based on HANA, SAP's real-time data platform offering, will help businesses become more agile while helping to lower operating costs substantially. With SAP HANA and its integration with comprehensive database solutions from Sybase, SAP has now launched a new breed of data management offering with in-memory acceleration at its core to help customers simplify their data management landscape and improve insights into real-time data.

"Applications will drive the database. We are going to put our database products in our applications. We will remain (vendor) agnostic, but there's no reason why we can't ship our database product with our applications. There's no reason why we can't create features that are unique to our database product, with our applications. And there's no reason why we can't create competitive pricing for our own databases and applications. We can do all this and still remain (vendor) agnostic," said Lucas.

SAP has 190,000 customers worldwide, of which 170,000 use its enterprise applications for HR, CRM, SCM etc. So even if 25 percent of this base were to use a SAP database product, that would get SAP closer to the top position.

Peter Gartenberg, MD, SAP India informed us that in Q1, SAP had 20 new customers in India running SAP applications on its Sybase ASE (Adaptive Server Enterprise) database. Companies like Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution (MSED) and the Nagpur-based Abhijeet Power Limited (APL) have replaced existing Oracle database solutions with SAP. These customers were sold on SAP innovation to accelerate business performance, gain real-time insights and acquire the ability to process and analyze information quickly.

"We are going to be number two in India as soon as 2013," said an optimistic Gartenberg.

To woo customers, SAP is providing tools to accelerate data migration from other databases to its own database platform. SAP has set up a Euro 250 mn fund to help customers migrate. Another strategy to woo customers is credits for consulting services. SAP is offering customers 30 percent of the license cost on its database products, and will credit this back to the customer for consulting.

SAP is also banking on its ecosystem of ISVs. In addition, it has a large base of Sybase customers, a prominent one being the Indian Railways. SAP will work with these customers "to scale them out".

Maneesh Sharma, Head-Database & Technology, SAP India, said, "We have been working with many ISVs in India to get them to use our database. We have also set up the USD 155 mn SAP Ventures Fund for partners and ISVs to create applications on our platform."   

SAP and its ecosystem of partners are also coming together to build a real-time data platform for next-generation customer applications. In India, SAP has recently collaborated with C-Square Info Solutions to co-innovate the pharmaceutical industry’s first enterprise process application for the entire supply chain. This application is planned to run on SAP Sybase SQL Anywhere with zero downtime and be easy to support.

And how does SAP plan to take on Oracle, which has a strong base of Indian customers?

"We believe that companies like Oracle are not providing the kind of innovation that our customers need. There are three categories of customers: those that run Oracle end-to-end, and it is going to be tough to get them. Then there are customers who have a modest amount of Oracle and other databases -- these are all customers that run some product from SAP. And then there are customers that do not have Oracle. We are building value propositions that address each of those categories. Companies that run Oracle can also invest in HANA. You can replicate the data real-time from Oracle to HANA. Half of the HANA customers have an ERP system running on Oracle and a BW system running on HANA," said an emphatic Lucas.

Oracle: How do you plan to counter SAP's moves?

About Author

Brian Pereira

Editor-in-chief, InformationWeek

Brian Pereira is the Conference Chair for Technology events at UBM India (Tech Media). He is also the Editor-in-chief of InformationWeek magazine in India.

He has a strong grounding in Technology Journalism spanning 19 years, covering both consumer and enterprise technology, on platforms like Print and Online. He now moves on to Digital, Virtual and Events. During his stint in tech journalism he wrote numerous articles on personal computing and enterprise/business technology. He's interviewed hundreds of global executives and reported on IT conferences in India and overseas.

In his previous role Brian was the Editor of CHIP Magazine in India. He also served in the editorial departments of The Times of India and The Indian Express Group.

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