What may have seemed impossible not so long ago, happened on July 3 -
two former ERP foes have entered into an OEM relationship. SAP Portals,
Inc., a provider of enterprise information portals and business intelligence
products and wholly owned subsidiary of SAP AG (NYSE:SAP), the
leading provider of business software solutions and Baan, the recently
resurrected global provider of enterprise business solutions, have announced
a strategic alliance that will enable Baan customers to integrate disparate
software applications into the iBaan Portal.
the terms of the alliance, technology from SAP Portals will be embedded
within the iBaan Portal solution, and Baan will participate in the advisory
board of SAP Portals. This development follows SAP Portals' recently announced
strategy to develop an open partnership model that fosters a broad technology
and content ecosystem. It also builds on Baan's recent launch of iBaan,
which is a suite of Internet-enabled collaboration solutions that should
address manufacturers' growing demands for tighter integration and full
visibility across their entire supply chains.
forming this alliance with Baan, we are delivering on a vision to introduce
open, widely distributed portal solutions that integrate seamlessly with
enterprise applications, empowering customers to collaborate effectively,"
said Hasso Plattner, co-chairman of the executive board, CEO and co-founder
of SAP AG. "SAP Portals will deliver an open, innovative enterprise portal
and information platform that quickly improves the bottom line for our
van der Tang, president of Baan, added, "Our component-based architecture
allows us to serve our customers with open and integrated solutions. We've
had a long-standing partnership with SAP Portals, formerly TopTier
Software, and its enterprise portal solutions work extremely well
with our iBaan suite of products. We believe that it is in the interest
of our customers to deliver a portal solution that has broad acceptance
in the market and integrates with many applications, and therefore, we
embraced the opportunity to work with SAP in this area. Earlier this year,
we launched our new iBaan suite of Internet-enabled collaboration solutions,
further strengthening our drive to become the only organization to offer
real-time Internet-enabled solutions for manufacturing environments. The
iBaan Portal solution, powered by SAP Portals, is a key component of our
solution that gives networked employees direct access to all the information,
applications and business processes needed for day-to-day decision-making
appears that everybody is a winner here. The partnership with former enemy
Baan illustrates SAP's willingness to share technology with a fierce competitor
in order to provide customers better access to mission-critical applications
regardless of which vendor developed it - a big point in winning the coveted
perception war. Also, SAP's acquisition of TopTier Software thereby gets
the endorsement as a very prudent move (for more information, see SAP
Acquires TopTier To Further Broaden Its Horizons).
on the other hand, can continue development of its new Web-enabled product,
without contemplating yet another, possibly devastating technology change
in midstream. Both vendors should also feel good to have chosen a similar
route to Web-enable their products - a more gradual and digestible way
for its customers. This is compared to offering a steep technology transition
from a fat client/server to a pure Internet architecture, such as chosen
by PeopleSoft. Also, both major vendors can cite each other as
endorsers of the openness and interconnectivity strategy, which may be
perceived by the market as signs of confidence.
note the iBaan and mySAP.com architectures will be able to take
full advantage of TopTier's attractive "Drag-and-Relate" graphical feature.
renewed focus on the mid-market discrete manufacturing segment, the fertile
ground on which it thrived during the mid 90s, is undisputedly a wise
move. There were fears that SAP Portals, the company created by SAP AG
around the TopTier technology, would pull away from Baan, a long-time
adversary of SAP. SAP management denied any intention to retract the relationship,
but Baan and its customer base remained nervous. Baan had long pinned
its hopes on TopTier technology before SAP bought it.
although Baan's decision to avoid the direct competition with SAP is prudent,
it may not be quite possible given SAP's (and other Tier 1 vendors' for
that matter) increased appetite for the smaller enterprises. Nonetheless,
both vendors seem to have matured and reached the mindset of "let the
best applications component win in each individual selection case".
Existing Baan users are also the winners at the end of the day. Baan's
viability does not seem to be an issue any more as its rejuvenated and
congenial management team has done a praiseworthy job of bringing the
company back to health while concurrently unveiling a new product release
that can compete with the other products in the market.
above partnership should remove any anxiety that SAP's acquisition of
TopTier might have caused Baan and its customers. Thus, Baan should be
evaluated in a number of enterprise software evaluations within the discrete
and, to a degree, within the process mid-size manufacturing market. Still,
any organization evaluating Baan should keep posted, and consider existing
functionality only. Current and potential users are advised to follow
the company's new product introductions and keep a close eye on its future
for a hypothetical case of both Baan and SAP competing for the same business,
TEC has always endorsed the "let the best applications component win in
each individual selection case" mantra. SAP will be winner even if Baan
sometimes beats them in a selection, since the part of Baan revenue will
go to SAP portals, and Baan has over 15,000 customers.