Saturday, July 3, 2010

The ultimate, generic IT platform

Andy Mulholland (who happens to be a popular CTO and former colleague) wrote an interesting piece about SAP's acquisition of Sybase on Capgemini's CTOBlog. I tried to post a comment on that, but you need to sign in at the blog site to be able to leave a comment. What's all that sudden fuss about having to be a member of the Capgemini CTO Blog? Preventing spam is one thing, but making it virtually impossible to interact at all is an entirely different thing. This Typepad powered blog is refusing comments. I trust this is caused by a bug or a faulty configuration.

So, my attempt to drop a comment failed. That leaves me with two options: give up (right, as if!!) or try an alternative route. You are reading the detour.

Andy concluded that SAP got some real gold nuggets that should deliver to them a blazingly good mobile platform with unique capabilities to support and enable data rich remote operations that can be linked to the existing SAP process capabilities.

I tend to agree, but I am seeing a trend. There is more buzz about this on the web. Michael Cote (Redmonk) wrote this insightful analysis for example. SAP seems to want to become the ultimate, generic IT platform. My colleague SAP consultants have a hard time understanding why you would want to custom build something outside of SAP to meet a business need. It is almost if they are saying: "if the business need can't be met using SAP, then it probably isn't a real need"  And now, with the purchase of Sybase, SAP has expanded its mobility reach. A whole range of mobility business needs have suddenly become real to SAP too.

Some time ago, I wrote a blog item about the difference between an SAP consultant and other consultants using the much abused car manufacturing metaphore. I stated - dramatically oversimplified - that a SAP consultant starts with the determination of the customer's industry, then simply picks the SAP package for that industry, implements that package at this customer, and he is done. The customer is advised to use their new platform as is and not tweak it (right, as if!!). I wonder how SAP will have these industries that it targets benefit from the newly acquired gold nuggets. Will performance improve indeed? Will mobility business requirements be met more easily. Time will tell.