Weighing the Risks
The risk for Microsoft is that if SAP gains ground in Microsofts core enterprise market, it might encourage the migration to SAP applications on other platforms, such as Linux. There is also a slight risk that SAP could erode Microsofts dominance on enterprise desktops. The fact that SAPs NetWeaver is fully compliant with the Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) standards may confer some small advantage among customers where this is an important factor.This is a theme that has been constantly repeated throughout the history of the computer industry. Competitors have to be prepared to play on the same field or find they are eventually shut out of the game. SAP and Microsoft wield so much market power that they simply cannot ignore each other. SAP also disclosed that it is working with major hardware companies to help implement "adaptive computing" capabilities in the NetWeaver platform. Click here to read more about the latest partnerships SAP has arranged with top hardware manufacturers. Adaptive computing is a process that is supposed to allow enterprises to rapidly change their systems and business processes to adapt to changing business conditions. For IT managers, adaptive computing is a way to develop and deploy applications so they can be processed at any time, on any server that can do the job the fastest at the lowest cost. SAP is building shared services and service virtualization features into NetWeaver that can rapidly assign the processing of specific business applications to the underlying hardware that is most efficient. The company is scheduled to release the adaptive-computing features for NetWeaver in June 2004. SAP said it is working with Dell Inc., Fujitsu Ltd., Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM, Intel Corp., Network Appliance Inc., Sun Microsystems Inc. and T-Systems Inc. to implement adaptive-computing services across their hardware product lines. It remains to be seen whether adaptive computing can deliver the promised computing-efficiency improvements and cuts in total cost of ownership that SAP and its partners have promised. Its still another question whether such efficiency improvements will actually be detectable on the bottom line of IT expenditures. But again, customers will reap benefits, even if adaptive computing delivers even a small fraction of the promised efficiency improvements. If it is demonstrably successful, SAP will gain significant market advantages for being among the first enterprise software companies to prove that it actually works. eWEEK.com Enterprise Applications Center Editor John Pallatto is a veteran journalist in the field of enterprise software and Internet technology. Check out eWEEK.coms Enterprise Applications Center at http://enterpriseapps.eweek.com for the latest news, reviews, analysis and opinion about productivity and business solutions. Be sure to add our eWEEK.com enterprise applications news feed to your RSS newsreader or My Yahoo page:
But the benefits for customers as well as for the competing companies outweigh the risks. The risks of standing aloof from each other are greater. You cant have any influence on a market or on a widely used application platform if you try to ignore it.