Written by P.M. Wortham
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Topics: contract

Monday, 15 November 2010

image for Oracle & SAP; Taking the Blood Oath
Speaking of leviathons and dinosaurs, Bush uses Oracle.

If you happen to be a mid to large sized corporation still alive in the world economy these days, you probably own one of these two business software leviathans. And all it took, aside from a healthy annual maintenance payment, was a near life long commitment amounting to a medieval blood oath.

The pitch was centered on integration. Why deal with a hodgepodge of business software systems when you can buy one, fully integrated, easy to administer and easy to expand solution? It makes sound business sense. Except that most businesses aren't happy with either software vendor these days. Each is only as flexible as their software allows. If you happen to want a feature outside of what the company packages, adding that solution becomes nightmarish in cost. Both vendors toss out phrases like "best practice" to explain why certain growing demands for features don't exist in their own solutions.

Why use industry standards for things like security, when you can use their software's answer for security. Why offer web standards like basic internet screen navigation when they have their own approaches to the look and feel of web pages. Both Oracle and SAP are too big and slow to react to the changing needs of business. Their respective solutions are "Best", because in Oracle's case, Larry tells you so, and in the case of SAP, it's because the German Engineers who wrote SAP tell you so. Topical albeit cryptic jokes ensue:

"How many SAP engineers does it take to change a lightbulb?"

"None. They just declare darkness Best Practice".

But there is hope on the horizon. Despite the overwhelming cost that companies would have to endure to divest themselves of these behemoth tentacles that are now pervasive throughout their organizations, companies are starting to find solutions that can operate outside of the "Borg". Solutions that your customers, suppliers, and partners like. Solutions that don't require an Eight million dollar downstroke with a 22% annual kicker to implement. There is life after Oracle and SAP. There are better integration solutions out there. You aren't forced to buy more functionality from the evil oligopoly of Red and Blue anymore.

The answer is simple really, much like the contemplation of a divorce from an abusive spouse. You have to imagine yourself without them and revel in the feeling of independence first. Then it becomes easier to move on.

You may need to keep these monolithic business solutions in place, but perhaps only for the core parts of business operations. The flashy stuff, the customer facing stuff, the B2B and B2C integration stuff, the stuff you need to design and implement quickly to keep pace with the changing needs of a world market, can all be done outside of that previous marriage. Put a bandage on that pricked finger. Use it to click on web pages for products that answer the call for change. Its all about baby steps to independence. Go find yours.

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