Microsoft, SAP Partner on SAP BusinessObjects

Microsoft and SAP announced that the SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation application would be "a preferred solution" for Microsoft customers seeking business functionality such as planning, budgeting, and financial forecasting. Both companies will explore ways to accelerate adoption of the SAP application among Microsoft's user base. Microsoft's focusing on its core products, and divesting itself of some internally created business-intelligence applications, leaves it open to such partnerships.

Microsoft will offer the SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation application through its channel, allowing customers running a Microsoft platform to more readily leverage SAP's planning, budgeting, forecasting and financial applications.

"The application takes advantage of the latest available versions of Microsoft Office 2007, including integration with Microsoft Office Excel 2007 and Microsoft SQL Server 2008," Tom Casey, general manager of SQL Server Business Intelligence for Microsoft, wrote in a Nov. 18 statement, "enabling customers to use the familiar tools they work with every day while benefiting from the features of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 database and SQL Server Analysis Services."

That statement also suggested that both companies would be exploring ways to accelerate the adoption of the SAP application among the Microsoft user base.

Products such as SAP's may replace a gap Microsoft created in its enterprise-centric offerings with the discontinuing of PerformancePoint Server 2007 in April 2009. That business-intelligence product's monitoring and analytics capabilities were merged into Microsoft Office SharePoint Server Enterprise. PerformancePoint Server's demise came as part of a general legacy-product-winnowing by Microsoft, as the company sought to reposition its corporate strategy around a set of core products such as the Windows and Office franchises.

A partnership with Microsoft would also help SAP, whose most recent quarterly revenues fell by 9 percent due to a decrease in spending on business software, despite a 12-percent rise in net income. During the company's Oct. 28 quarterly earnings call, SAP executives predicted a 6 percent to 8 percent dip in software and service revenue overall for 2009.

As part of its compensatory strategy, SAP has shifted its focus to SMBs (small- to medium-sized businesses) as a potential market for its software, some of which-notably Business Suite 7-can be deployed as modules without customers necessarily needing to upgrade to the entire platform. SAP and Microsoft's joint statement concerning the SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation platform also re-emphasizes this SMB target.

Despite public unconcern by SAP executives, the company also faces the prospect of a strengthened challenge from rival Oracle, which is seemingly on the verge of completing its acquisition of Sun Microsystems. That $7.4 billion deal has already been approved by the U.S. Department of Justice, although the European Commission continues to block the takeover in Europe.

"I don't think it's going to impact us," Rob Enslin, president of SAP North America, told eWEEK during an Oct. 21 customer event in New York City. "Oracle will have to compete against IBM, [Hewlett-Packard] and others; whereas we've always had good partnerships." Enslin also suggested that SAP has no intentions of becoming an Oracle-style end-to-end software, service and infrastructure provider.

Nonetheless, a partnership with an IT giant such as Microsoft must have seemed appealing, given the tech sector's current economic and competitive pressures.