SAP – Sybase: Synergies? Suspect So.

SAP announced today that it will acquire Sybase for $65.00 per share, representing an enterprise value of approximately $5.8 billion. The announcement says that “customers will be able to better harness today’s explosion of data and deliver information and insight in real time to business consumers wherever they work so they can make faster, more informed decisions.” But the vision goes beyond that: the combined companies will be able to deliver the ability to act on those decisions, anywhere. The combination of SAP’s substantial share of its customers’ transactional systems with Sybase’s mobile expertise in messaging and application development tools for mobile devices affords extraordinary opportunities that are not lost on management. Following the public press event, I chatted with Vishal Sikka, SAP’s CTO, and Dr. Raj Nathan, EVP and CMO of Sybase. We covered some of the opportunities on the table and SAP’s plans for its new assets. Read more of this post

Informatica Passes Half-Billion Mark, Buys Siperian, Targets Cloud

Informatica has announced another, long-rumored acquisition: Siperian, thus continuing a steady march toward a comprehensive portfolio play. In 2009, its strong growth path made it the clear independent leader in data integration.  With Release 9, its vision of a data integration platform grew to providing a comprehensive approach to everything from data discovery services to data quality. While growth slowed during a tough year for the economy overall, Informatica grew revenue in every quarter, and made key acquisitions in 3 successive quarters (Applimation, AddressDoctor and Agent Logic) and began to make significant moves into the cloud via partnerships with Amazon, salesforce.com and others. Agent Logic added event detection and processing to support real-time alerting and response. As 2010 begins, this latest move is synergistic from the outset; Rob Karel points out in his excellent blog post that “Siperian MDM technology…already is deeply integrated with Informatica’s identity resolution and postal address technology. In addition…Siperian MDM customers [are] using Informatica for data integration and data quality, meaning there is a lot of existing experience and know-how on integrating Informatica’s portfolio with Siperian.” Read more of this post

Sybase Will Step Up In-Memory Message With New Release

Sybase has quietly racked up a string of successful growth years, riding its pioneering status in commercial analytic databases (ADBMS) and holding on to its loyal base in everyday DBMS after being elbowed aside by Oracle a decade ago. Its steady market performance has not been driven by dramatic innovations: Sybase has seemed to lag the Big Three (Oracle, Microsoft and IBM) in new feature/function. But it has innovated: IQ has grown into a key revenue source, and Sybase RAP has established itself as one of the more successful event processing offerings, with a string of Wall Street customers creating a new class of applications.

In the current (5-year-old) major release level of its flagship Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE) product, Sybase has added user-defined SQL functions, support for plugin Java Runtime Environment (JRE) and JVM components, xml tables, SQL statement replication, new statistical aggregate functions, and a shared disk cluster edition. And now, Sybase is about to add new in-memory database capabilities and step up its support for external storage management. I’ve spent some time recently with the Sybase team to discuss their plans for the upcoming 15.5 release (currently available in a developer version), and found palpable excitement about the possibilities of their new work. Read more of this post

InfoSphere Streams Is A Game Changer

IBM has made it clear that InfoSphere Streams, the commercialized part of the System S research project that has been underway for some years, is a priority, and they are committing substantial investments to it.  In fact, the release was hurried a bit, as I noted in my (hopefully) humorous post about naming for complex event processing (CEP) and related technologies. At a major financial analyst meeting in May 2009, CEO Sam Palmisano called it out as an IBM opportunity, and Software Group honcho Steve Mills listed it as one of four themes within his topline Information Agenda message. That kind of push makes things happen. Read more of this post

GPS + GPRS + Event Processing = A New Magic Application Triangle

by Charles Brett, President, C3B Consulting Ltd

I’m delighted to welcome my friend and colleague Charles Brett to my blog. He’s graciously offered to allow me to post this piece here – it’s well worth your time.

The Global Positioning System (GPS) has been around for a long time, and is now firmly embedded in both commercial and consumer devices (including the iPhone). The General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)—a packet-oriented, mobile data service available to users of 2G and 3G GSM networks—has been available across the globe for many years. Event processing (EP) has also been around since computing started (think real-time systems) but in recent years it has made huge strides in handling complexity, and many of the big vendors have responded by buying the innovators (Progress bought Apama, IBM bought Aptsoft, Oracle bought BEA, etc.) Read more of this post

SAP Needs A Clear Message For Business Objects

In late March, over 1000 people attended the SAP Insider Business Intelligence (BI) and Portals conference. Most were customers of SAP products who were not (yet) using the products SAP acquired with Business Objects. Enthusiasm was high for the demos of  text and predictive analytics, event processing and more. But to carry this story to market, especially to the new business buyers interested in the restaurant for sale etc., SAP must state the offerings in terms of business problems and the value of solving them. In my informal poll, many attendees expressed bewilderment about which product to use when. Even the techies, the vast majority of attendees at this event, will need that information to explain to their constituents why new significant new investment in product licenses will be required. Maps of tables and hierarchies, directories, etc. will not sell the story – but defining concrete business and economic benefits will.

SAP clearly has made its branding decisions; only the demos of current lab projects showed any Business Objects branding, likely because they are for internal use, not for sale. The SAP brand is a powerful one; prospective buyers recognize SAP’s deep understanding of business processes and industry issues. BI tools are used for visibility into the condition of a business and its partners, as well as where risks lie. Context is key there, SAP’s deep knowledge, if applied to product design, may help break its BI offerings out of their longstanding restriction to power users. SAP is not alone here; after decades of vendor innovation designed to grow the user base, still only 15-20% enterprises users typically have access to what they need. SAP showed an array of 19 new pre-built industry-specific dashboards which will carry customers closer to a specific set of useful metrics, reducing “time to value” for their investments. The company clearly sees the synergy between the acquired (and existing) BI assets and those in its applications portfolio.

Along with some efficient business management software (learn more at www.advancesystemsinc.com) and from all the tools perspective, the current portolio is impressive. The array of choices include:

  • SAP BusinessObjects Polestar – data exploration and visualization for casual users where “Information spaces” have been built atop BusinessObjects Universes
  • SAP BusinessObjects Voyager – exploration for business analysts of OLAP servers (supports multiple servers within the same workspace)
  • SAP BusinessObjects Xcelsius – dashboard development for IT and power users. Can build stories for PowerPoint slide shows
  • SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence (WebI  or “webby”) – query, reporting and analysis for power users and business analysts against Universes
  • Crystal Reports – scalable operational report building for skilled report developers
  • SAP BusinessObjects Dashboard Builder – interface for building interoperable composite dashboards tfrom BusinessObjects content such as Xcelsius, Web Intelligence, Crystal Reports and Voyager
  • BI Widgets – self-service mash-ups for business users

Without making it clear which tools work against what data, and when, SAP will continue to struggle to get their message across to tomorrow’s purchaser. It is clearly on the path, and has an opportunity to change the game, or to allow BusinessObjects’ well-earned reputation to atrophy. The elements are there, and the game is afoot.