SAP Mostly Mum On Sybase Plans

Analysts speculate that SAP will continue upgrading and selling most of Sybase's products -- while increasing license fees.

SAP Executives have said little about their plans for Sybase products once the enterprise software vendor's $5.8 billion deal to buy the Dublin, Calif., database maker closes, leaving Sybase users and partners wondering about the fate of technology that many of them depend on.

Customers were looking for hints of Sybase's future during the Sapphire user conference in Orlando last week but heard little other than SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott's pledge that the company will one day offer a full suite of ERP applications and business intelligence tools that can run on "any device, at any place, at any time."

Analysts said that's an indication that SAP plans to quickly move to integrate Sybase's mobile technologies with its own offerings. SAP executives had touted the mobile technologies of Sybase during a conference call earlier this month when they announced the deal, some noted.

Jeffrey Hammond, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc., said he expects that SAP will promptly take advantage of Sybase's mobile expertise . "[Mobile] is one of the hottest areas for future growth," he said, noting that the number of Forrester clients seeking advice on mobile development has "exploded" over the past couple of quarters,

The future of the various Sybase database products is less clear, said veteran database analyst Curt Monash of Monash Research.

He suggested that SAP will eventually de-emphasize its own MaxDB database for use with its ERP applications in favor of Sybase's Adaptive Server Enterprise. "That would be an incentive for further [SAP] investment" in Sybase's flagship ASE, Monash added.

Meanwhile, SAP's Business Objects unit currently partners with vendors selling business intelligence products that compete with the Sybase IQ columnar database, he noted. "It should be possible for IQ to remain independent, in co-opetition with everybody else, but there's some risk that [it] will get swept up in SAP's grander strategies," Monash said.

Ray Wang, an analyst at Altimeter Group, said that he expects SAP to retain most, if not all, Sybase products but added that users should brace themselves for potentially higher license fees. He noted that following its purchase of Business Objects in 2008 , SAP jacked up prices and cut back on the discounts available for Business Objects products.

SAP officials did say that once the deal closes, Sybase will operate as a separate business unit, much like Business Objects.

The deal is expected to close in July.

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Chris Kanaracus

Computerworld (US)
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