Oracle's database partnership with SAP is nearing its 30th anniversary. In Part 1 of our Roundtable Interview, we talk about the partnership between IBM, Oracle and SAP, what has changed over the years and what that means for the SAP community.
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Mr. Kuppler, your database partnership with SAP is approaching its 30th anniversary. What does this mean for Oracle and for existing SAP customers?
Gerhard Kuppler, Oracle: Firstly, we intend to continue to supply the tens of thousands of SAP-on-Oracle database customers with the best technologies.
Our collaboration has always been shaped by an ongoing desire to provide our shared customers with efficient service and support solutions for their application requirements.
In other words, to offer customers additional benefits and optimum investment protection. Secondly, our continuous collaboration aims to provide optimized database technologies for business-critical application environments, which make SAP usage more secure, more reliable, even more scalable and prepare it for the cloud.
And thirdly, SAP benefits from a very successful service and support partnership with the Oracle Corporation – from which joint customers gain the most. The Oracle teams who work closely with their SAP colleagues in Support, Development and in the Alliance Team in Walldorf and St. Leon-Rot, are well-practiced team players.
So what does that mean for the SAP community?
Kuppler: Oracle is one of the most important infrastructure technology partners, contributing considerably to the development and success of SAP R/3. SAP started out in 1988 with the R/3 development.
The database technologies of Oracle and the SAP applications are very closely interlinked and perfectly matched to one another. We have managed to establish our Oracle database technologies as the number one database among SAP customers around the globe.
The huge shared customer base expects a cost benefit from our two companies; i.e. technologies that work together perfectly in the long run.
The Oracle Corporation deploys a significant amount of support resources at the SAP headquarters in Walldorf and in St. Leon-Rot, Palo Alto and Tokyo to ensure secure, reliable and scalable database use.
Mr. Mezger, IBM has been in a database partnership with SAP for only a slightly shorter period in the R/3 environment and of course for longer in the R/2 environment – how would you rate this time for IBM customers?
Martin Mezger, IBM: Our partnership has grown over a number of decades and has seen us consistently focus on customer benefits. After SAP was founded by former IBM employees, their R/2 product was also designed to run on mainframes with DB2.
When it came to the successor products R/3 and SAP Business Suite, a lot of time and money was invested, especially in the database technology area, in joint development work to optimize DB2 for the use of SAP software.
I can confirm that this will continue in the future. Our current investments in developing DB2 take the future of SAP customers into account. Of course, every partnership has its ups and downs and our customers should not be deterred by this.
SAP has virtually declared its own solutions a AnyDB-free zone with the Hana database and especially with S/4. How does a long-standing business associate to SAP, like IBM and Oracle, deal with that?
Mezger: We consider the choice of proprietary strategy to be a mistake in the long term. We at IBM have already understood this. To date, SAP has always had an understanding of competition and all the benefits which can be gained for SAP customers.
There has been a partner ecosystem, which created immense value, jointly. Is this still the case? Nowadays SAP talks about partners, but mostly regards them as “routes-to-market”.
Isn’t SAP still an important partner to IBM and Oracle and not just in the database market?
Mezger: As far as DB2 is concerned, we are committed to our customers.
We are open to cooperate with SAP in many areas and our investments are being directed towards these new areas. This is also due to the fact that cooperations with other ERP providers will equally benefit from our investments into DB2.
Kuppler: Over two thirds of mid-size and high-end SAP customers run their SAP applications on Oracle and trust in Oracle technologies.
You could say that Oracle databases are almost a fixed element of the SAP environment.
Both companies – Oracle Corporation and SAP – logically have a shared responsibility to the vast SAP customer base, which puts its faith in Oracle database technologies.
Do you not also need to look beyond the boundaries of SAP?
Kuppler: Yes, virtually all SAP customers use very different non-SAP applications. This means that even if SAP customers migrate their Business Warehouse to, say Hana, they will continue to use Oracle database for other applications.
What’s more, Oracle has a huge share of the market with other applications in precisely this and other markets.
And what about shares of the market?
Kuppler: By launching Hana, paired with taking over Sybase, SAP declared its goal of becoming the number two player on the global database market. This happened several years ago.
Surveys of the global database market carried out by Gartner show that SAP is still a long way off conquering the database market outside of SAP with Hana.
The fact of the matter is that Oracle evidently remains the undisputed leader in the global database market. Hana is a SAP-proprietary environment and the customers want openness.
Mezger: I believe that it is just as important to consider the needs of the existing SAP customers – which is the overwhelming majority.
In other words, the customers who are using Business Suite and want to benefit from advances in technology without destroying man years of consulting investments into their current systems.
Here I’m thinking of the massive modifications which SAP customers must undertake on their systems to obtain needed functionality for their individual business model.
We have done a lot of work in this area, such as with DB2 BLU in the SAP BW environment, which is our in-memory technology.
We are very ambitious with our new HTAP or Hybrid Transactional Analytical Processing strategy. We are envisioning a hybrid database, which is just as much at home with transactional workloads as it is with analytical ones – meaning DB2 with HTAP.
This is part of our roadmap and is our approach for customers who want to perform complex analytical queries directly in their Business Suite.
We firmly believe that there are benefits for clients through HTAP, if they are able to accelerate their highly optimized and customized Business Suite, as it has been modified for many years to their special business requirements.
And, by the way, without radical changes to their system architecture.
In Part 2, we dive into the specifics of Hana and Hana-based systems in context of the call for a true “S/4 AnyDB”. You can access Part 2 by clicking here or using the arrow on the right of your screen.
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