By Renee Boucher Ferguson  |  Posted 2007-05-09 Print this article Print

-sell opportunities for SAP"> OutlookSoft, based in Stamford, Conn., is a relatively small company with 250 employees and about 700 customers (a drop in the bucket compared to Hyperions 15,000 customers)—75 percent of which are non-SAP customers, which presents a good up-sell opportunity for SAP. Its latest suite, OutlookSoft 5, is based on a SOA (service oriented architecture) platform that will meld nicely with SAPs NetWeaver integration platform, SAP officials said. SAPs NetWeaver Business Intelligence will serve as the BI infrastructure for OutlookSoft 5s applications. "From the beginning, OutlookSoft has focused on helping business users, the executive team and, most importantly, the CFO," said Phil Wilmington, president and CFO of OutlookSoft, in a statement. "Our solution unifies organizations, disparate systems and processes through innovative technology and accessibility to information."
The focus on two key areas for both SAP and Oracle—GRC and the CFO—is putting a stake in the ground through the area of business intelligence, a priority for companies as they begin to look at more ways to leverage business process automation in a SOA environment. Oracle started spotlighting BI about a year ago with the release of its namesake Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition that includes BI tools, applications and a data integrator.
While it also has a BI platform, SAP has taken a radically different approach with its BI Accelerator, an appliance-based product that uses in-memory technology to vastly increase the speed at which queries can be performed. BIA could be a big step for SAP in other areas as well, as the in-memory technology doesnt require an underlying database—a fact that one day could serve to undermine Oracle where it hurts with database sales (this point is way beyond SAPs current plans with OutlookSoft, where the focus is integration with finance and GRC applications). Joshua Greenbaum, in his Enterprise Anti-Matter blog, pointed out that GRC is an area where SAP outshines Oracle. "What I think gives SAP some advantage is the integration with GRC and Duet [the dual development program between SAP and Microsoft to expose SAP processes in Office]…Particularly GRC: this is one three-letter-acronym that Oracle has yet to challenge effectively," wrote Greenbaum. "Tying corporate performance management to GRC is going to make a strong case inside the office of the CFO, and has a good change of putting Oracle on the defensive, something it was hoping was not going to be the case once Hyperion was in its portfolio." Duet has been a strong motivator for SAP in its pursuit of Microsoft as an integral partner—yet another distance point from Oracle. Technology Business Research analyst Stuart Williams points out that OutlookSofts SOA-based platform is based on the Microsoft stack: Microsoft Excel, Business Intelligence Platform, SQL Server and SharePoint Server. "The close integration of SAPs Duet 2.0 with SharePoint, combined with the integration already in place with OutlookSoft, implies a clear direction for SAPs future development for the business user," writes Williams in a May 9 research note. "TBR believes the acquisition provides SAP customers with an alternative to the Oracle software stack and strengthens future alliances between SAP and Microsoft. OutlookSoft was one of Microsofts top five global partners and a finalist for the Microsoft Global ISV Partner of the Year Award." That said, the parrying between SAP and Oracle continues; Hyperions customer base consists mainly of SAP users. SAP expects the acquisition of OutlookSoft to close in June, pending standard regulatory approvals.


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