Australia: SAP vs Oracle

Summary:This month, Geraldine McBride, SAP Australia and New Zealand managing director and Leigh Warren, Oracle managing director for Australia and New Zealand tackle varied issues plaguing the enterprise software market.Editor's note: This report was first published in Technology and Business magazine prior to Oracle's US$10.

MCBRIDE: How do you see Microsoft's entry into the marketplace impacting your business?
WARREN: Microsoft is entering the market for business applications in much the same way that it previously entered the markets for database and application server software, starting with low-end products and seeking to improve its capabilities over time. This strategy assumes that vendors already offering high-end solutions will not be able to scale them down to meet the needs of more budget-conscious customers.

Historically, this was a valid assumption, but with new technology Oracle is now able to repackage and repurpose its offerings to appeal to most sectors of the market. It will take Microsoft a long time to create business functionality that is competitive with Oracle and technically, Microsoft's applications are built in the proprietary .NET environment that only runs on Windows. Oracle applications offer world-class functionality right now, they are built in Java and run on Unix, Windows, or Linux. I'm not losing any sleep over Microsoft's applications strategy!

WARREN: Is SAP able to provide a single global solution for customers to manage their global operations?
MCBRIDE: Most global SAP customers run no more than two to three datacentres around the globe. In fact, SAP AG is a prime example of this. We run all modules of SAP software, including mySAP CRM, at a single datacentre. This has not changed in 30 years as our platform has supported client/server architecture and more recently Web services. SAP has always believed in non-proliferation of distributed servers, preferring to develop market-leading technology, starting with three tier client/server first released in the early '90s. Unlike other vendors, that promoted the deployment of instances of mission critical applications in each country where there was a main office, SAP's has always helped customers keep the datacentres to a minimum (two to three) to consolidate information and keep down costs.

MCBRIDE: Your company has stated that grid computing and its Linux offerings have contributed to your revenue growth -- can you expand on this?
WARREN: When it comes to Linux, our industry statistics tell the story. Ninety percent of new sales of the Oracle E-Business Suite over the past year in Australia and New Zealand have been on Linux. In 2003, Oracle had above-market growth in the global Linux database market of 361 percent and the largest global Linux market share at 69.1 percent, according to a May 2004 Gartner report.

In my previous role at Oracle I was responsible for championing Linux across the Asia-Pacific region, so I have first-hand experience of how excited customers are by this technology. Oracle's commitment to and investment in Linux is encouraging businesses of all sizes to make Linux their platform of choice for low-cost computing. Customers running the Oracle E-Business Suite on Linux in Australia include Qantas Airways, Virgin Blue Airlines, University of Technology Sydney, Cairns City Council, and Waterwerks. Most of these customers are running Oracle applications on clusters of low cost Linux servers using a Grid Computing architecture.

The arrival earlier this year of the Oracle 10g software platform marked a major milestone in the delivery of Oracle's Grid Computing strategy. Oracle has engineered Grid Computing features into both Oracle Database 10g and Oracle Application Server 10g, creating a new platform for enterprise computing. The Oracle Grid turns many small computers into a virtual mainframe that acts as a shared resource, running many applications at once and reallocating its internal resources in response to changing demands. The Oracle Grid delivers capacity on demand, allocating high performance, low-cost hardware elements from a pool to meet business needs as they arise.

Oracle believes Enterprise Grid Computing on Linux will be the standard architecture for the next generation of IT solutions. We are already seeing strong take-up in Australia and New Zealand, nations which are leading the way across Asia-Pacific.

WARREN: What are some of your personal hopes and dreams for the next five years?
MCBRIDE: I have many hopes and dreams. Firstly to continue the success of SAP and more than double the business size over the next few years. I hope to continue to create the environment where our people can be successful and grow, and to be the company that our customers and our partners want to do business with.

On the personal front, I hope to continue to enjoy life at both the professional and personal level. Being happily married for the past 20 years and having a daughter entering her teens, I love spending time with my family in our hobbies which include horses, biking, hiking, and enjoying the great outdoors.

MCBRIDE: We have both lived in New Zealand. How do you find the lifestyle here compared to across the Tasman?
WARREN: Actually, we have both lived in South Africa as well so there is quite a common trend emerging here and I'm sure we could debate our sports allegiances! I had a great time in New Zealand and really enjoyed the harbour lifestyle in Auckland. That said, I am now settled in Australia and have taken up citizenship. I have a weekender at the coast, or "batch" in New Zealand terms, and make the most of that whenever possible.

From a business perspective, Australia is a very mature technology market and one of the most advanced in the world. Customers have clear expectations of what they want from their technology partners -- relationships built on trust and mutual understanding, as well as the assurance that we are able to deliver on our promises. At Oracle we take the utmost care to maintain and build on that trust for the long term.

This article was first published in Technology & Business magazine.
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Topics: SAP, Enterprise Software, Oracle

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