SAP, IBM Tailor DB2 Database to Oracle Customers

Updated: Offering easier migration with Websphere and reducing sales incentives for Oracle databases, SAP and IBM are working together to win market share.

Seeking to grab Oracle customers, IBM and SAP announced on Tuesday a version of IBMs DB2 database thats optimized to run SAP applications. The Oracle arch rivals are also beefing up joint marketing, development and maintenance plans.

More than 60 percent of SAP AG customers are currently "locked in" to Oracle databases, according to IBM—a total of roughly 44,000 customers.

DB2 Version 8.2.2, which represents the first release that IBM has tailored for a specific application vendor, is aimed at wooing these customers into the DB2 fold with features optimized for SAP.

These features include self-tuning and self-configuring capabilities; silent install capabilities that minimize implementation time; dynamic storage allocation, designed to reduce the need for database administrator interference and to improve system availability; multidimensional cluster tables geared to optimize the performance of customers running SAP Business Information Warehouse; and SQL optimization tailored for SAP and designed to improve query times.

The release—the database will be available on Friday—couldnt come fast enough. After the PeopleSoft acquisition, IBM and SAP are facing a newly expanded rival in Oracle Corp.

/zimages/3/28571.gifRead more here about Oracles PeopleSoft acquisition.

Bernie Spang, director of DB2 Marketing for IBM, in Somers, N.Y., said that the two companies have been working on the release for the past two years, however—in other words, since before the PeopleSoft acquisition. Its Oracle, not IBM, who should be kept up at night by the specter of database market-share loss, he said.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read Lisa Vaas commentary on a rumored merge between SAP and Oracle.

"Oracle is greatly at risk of losing database share due to their acquisition," he said. "Weve had over 5,000 new licenses with Version 8.2, the Stinger release. Price/performance is better than Oracle, ease of use is better than Oracles. That, coupled with [offerings] from Microsoft [Corp.] and others, and Oracle is under siege on multiple [fronts]. Theyre distracted by the acquisition, theyre trying to cobble together multiple application streams, and clients are thinking through being locked into middleware thats locked into a single applications provider."

In another stab at Oracle, SAP recently moved away from a sales commission structure wherein sales reps were rewarded for selling more expensive databases. Because Oracle is traditionally a more expensive database, SAP sales reps used to sell a lot of Oracle databases. SAP late last year changed that to a flat fee-based scheme in the United States and is now implementing the new fee structure in Europe.

"The sales commission set-up used to favor selling with Oracle," Spang said. "Not because it was a better technical fit, but because it was the way their sales commissions were set up. Theyve adjusted their commission so that isnt the case … another proof point in the dimension of the alliance with SAP on the sales side."

Spang declined to say whether IBM would be releasing versions of DB2 optimized for other applications but said that it wasnt out of the question.

Whether or not DB2 is optimized for SAP, database migration is still no picnic. Spang said that Websphere helps out in this regard, as clients use it as a layer to work across multiple databases. "Thats another aspect to the migration [question:] having a path not as daunting as Oh my God, I have to throw everything out and start over," he said. "Its about installing a new license in the direction they want to go strategically and integrating their current with their new and managing that evolution over time."

IBM and SAP will offer support with jointly staffed integration and competency centers. Such support will include extending IBM maintenance to complement SAPs 5-1-2 maintenance plan. IBM and SAP developers are also working together on future enhancements, although Spang was mum on details of future releases.

Editors Note: This story was updated to correct the number given for SAP customers running Oracle applications.

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