Microsoft Denies MBS Group Has Enterprise Aspirations

Microsoft VP Douglas Burgum testifies at the DOJ-Oracle trial that the company's Microsoft Business Solutions group has no plans to become a major player in the enterprise applications software market.

SAN FRANCISCO—Microsoft Corp. has no plans to build up its business solutions group into a major competitor in the enterprise applications software market now that it has abandoned any thought of acquiring SAP AG, Douglas Burgum, Microsoft senior vice president testified Wednesday.

It would take too long and cost too much money to build up the Microsoft Business Solutions applications to a scale that could compete effectively with Oracle Corp., PeopleSoft Inc. and SAP, said Burgum, who heads the MBS group.

Burgum was called to testify by the U.S. Department of Justice to support its contention that Oracle, PeopleSoft and SAP are in a league of their own in the enterprise application software market. The DOJ is seeking a permanent injunction against Oracles offer to buy PeopleSoft.

Documents presented in U.S. District Court here showed that Microsoft was so alarmed by the competitive threat posed by Oracles bid to buy out PeopleSoft that it prompted Chairman Bill Gates to broach the idea of a possible SAP acquisition merger with CEO Steve Ballmer and other company executives the weekend after Oracle disclosed its offer.

"Another thought that came to mind is that its time we bought SAP given our own view" that Microsoft needed to respond to Oracles proposed PeopleSoft buyout, Gates wrote in a June 7, 2003, e-mail to Ballmer. Gates also suggested that Microsoft also offer to make a minority investment in PeopleSoft to "bolster their independence."

/zimages/1/28571.gifFor more on the Microsoft-SAP merger talks, click here.

Another Microsoft document showed that the company feared that the combination of the Oracle database running PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards applications on multiple platforms would pose a serious threat to the Microsoft SQL Server database running on the Windows platform. The combined organization "being pro Linux, pro Oracle database would try to drive those SQL numbers to Zero if they controlled those applications," according to the document.

Within 10 days after Gates sent his initial e-mail, Burgum was among a group of top Microsoft executives that included members of the companys Business Development team who were studying the financial and business feasibility of acquiring SAP.

A June 17, 2003, report that circulated among Microsofts leadership on the potential SAP acquisition was littered with stellar constellation names used as code words to thinly veil the main players in the enterprise applications acquisition scenario.

Oracle was Ophiuchus, the "Serpent Bearer"; SAP was Sagittarius; Microsoft was Mensa; PeopleSoft was Pegasus; and IBM was Indus.

The report was distributed with an e-mail from Cindy Bates, a member of the Business Development team, saying that regardless of whether PeopleSoft fended off Oracles buyout bid, "the dynamics of the industry have changed. We should think proactively in determining our own fate, as no doubt the folks in Armonk [N.Y.] are doing." Armonk is home to IBMs corporate headquarters.

Next Page: Was IBM also an SAP suitor?

John Pallatto

John Pallatto

John Pallatto has been editor in chief of QuinStreet Inc.'s since October 2012. He has more than 40 years of experience as a professional journalist working at a daily newspaper and...