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SAP-Business Objects Deal Should Have No .NET Impact

This week’s bombshell that SAP will acquire Business Objects for $6.7 billion is perhaps the largest milestone yet in the business intelligence, analytics, reporting and corporate performance management market. Despite the hugeness of this deal -- presuming it goes through -- it should not be disruptive to Windows and .NET developers, since both vendors’ offerings already have strong integration with Microsoft’s programming environment and tools including Visual Studio, as well as platforms such as Sharepoint and SQL Server.

I talked with a few analysts this week to get their take on the impact this deal might have to Windows developers.

“There’s already a lot of tight integration there, and all of the functionality of the Business Objects Enterprise XI environment is exposed through .NET, and available to any Visual Studio developer as well as through Java classes and APIs,” says James Kobielus, an analyst at Current Analysis. “Quite frankly both Business Objects and SAP have extremely strong Office and Sharepoint integration already and I don’t think they are going to slice that off at all.”

Forrester analyst Boris Evelson agrees that the impact should be minimal on developers for the Microsoft programming and application infrastructure stack but could have implications on those who use Business Objects’ tools.

“SAP will definitely push Business Objects to do entire integration with NetWeaver [formerly known as SAP Business Warehouse] and maybe pay less attention to other integration areas,” Evelson says. “But from a core Windows developer perspective, I don’t think this is a significant event.” For more on Evelson’s take on the SAP-Business Objects deal, check out his blog.

On the other hand, the deal invariably will step up the competitive stakes between SAP/Business Objects and Microsoft, which just released its PerformancePoint 2007 server last month. SAP, Business Objects and now Microsoft all offer competitive corporate performance management.

“These guys are already competitors, so we will see this 'coopetition' while they slug it out in the financial CPM space, as they all try to get deeper into the verticalized analytics tools,” Kobielus says. Also look for Microsoft to forge closer ties between its own Microsoft Dynamics, PerformancePoint and SQL Server Reporting and Analysis teams.

The bottom line here is consolidation in the BI business has been under way for some time. Oracle shelled out $3.3 billion for Hyperion earlier this year, and with SAP nabbing Business Objects, the market leader in the BI/CPM market -- the only other comparable fish out there is Cognos.

Will Cognos remain independent for some time or will someone snatch it in short order? Kobielus points out that there is no shortage of vendors who would like to fill out their software portfolios with Cognos, or some of the smaller suppliers of point BI solutions. The list of candidates is quite long: BEA Systems, CA, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Tibco, to name a few. Even Oracle has a history of coming back for more. And though it seems unlikely, never underestimate what Microsoft may be contemplating.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 10/11/2007

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