Different Approaches

By Renee Boucher Ferguson  |  Posted 2006-04-05 Print this article Print

Oracles next-generation apps will run only on its own database (Oracle has not gone public with this statement); SAPs applications will run only on its own middleware." SAP is looking to ship its next-generation suite in 2007; Oracle plans to ship theirs in 2008.
The two companies will battle over a couple technology fronts, according to Forrester: Master data management, analytics and repository architectures. While SAP has stronger momentum in the market, a better articulated value and a better partner strategy, Oracle has a strong middleware platform and greater support for standards.
On Common Ground Despite their differences, Forrester found a number of areas where SAP and Oracle have settled on common development tactics. SAP deepens search within NetWeaver. Click here to read more. First and foremost, Forrester has come to the conclusion that both companies are writing "substantial amounts of new code" for their upcoming application suites—a fact that could lead to issues for users looking for a standard upgrade, rather than a migration. "Both vendors dispute our conclusion, saying they are primarily repurposing existing code to create their new application suites," writes Forrester. "Neither vendor offered hard evidence to support its claims." Likewise, both Oracle and SAP are relying on a number of common standards, including Java/J2EE Web services, BPEL (Business Process Execution Language) and HTTP. Where they differ is that Oracle will embrace more J2EE and Web services standards than SAP, while SAP will provide BPEL editing that converts BPEL into a proprietary runtime format. Both companies, according to Forrester, have chosen proprietary technologies—no surprises here—to optimize the performance of their architectures. Oracle will optimize at the database level, while SAP will optimize at the application platform and Web user interface. Finally, both companies have talked extensively about, and are building, service repositories that will sit at the center of their architectures. Like other repositories planned—IBM announced its SOA repository earlier this week—Oracle and SAP repositories will store Web services and business process definitions. But, they will also hold user interface, user and platform metadata, according to Forrester. The major difference between the two offerings? Oracle is currently using its repository at both design and run time, while SAPs, which is still under development, will be used at design time only, Forrester said. There are some other key areas that SAP and Oracle are taking a similar stance on, including process modeling (SAP plans to use its own and IDS Scheers Aris toolset; Oracle is using its own tools and is reportedly in talks with IDS Scheer), composite applications and analytics. SAP, in conjunction with partners, has come out with a stable of about 150 composite applications, or xApps (though some industry watchers believe SAP has stalled in its own internal development of xApps). Oracle is still talking about composite applications. As for analytics, SAP and Oracle appear to be neck-and-neck. "Both vendors have incorporated analytics into their next-generation architectures," writes Forrester. "But neither has made the investments required for market leadership in business intelligence." So with at least another year left for even the early code of next-generation applications to be available from the worlds largest and second largest software vendors (SAP and Oracle, respectively) whats a customer to do? Forrester has a few ideas: Break down the architectures and plans of both companies to see what matches your strategic imperatives; focus on the major new technologies used in both architectures—portals, services deployment, integrated analytics and Business Activity Monitoring; acquire enough Fusion Middleware or enough SAP NetWeaver to start learning; and evaluate alternative paths. "Take the opportunity to evaluate the other options available to you in plotting your course to SOA-based applications," suggests Forrester. "You have buy and build alternatives." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest database news, reviews and analysis.


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