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9/12/2010
01:40 PM
Bob Evans
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Global CIO: As HP And Oracle Brawl, IBM And SAP Snatch Customers

IBM offers HP and Oracle customers aggressive trade-in financing, and SAP hits back at Oracle with new industry-specific real-time applications.

IBM: "IBM announced a new financing program, including credit from IBM for used equipment, attractive lease terms and no payments until 2011, for credit-qualified clients in the U.S. that trade-in select Oracle-Sun and HP systems and migrate to upgradeable systems of IBM's new Power(R) family of workload optimized servers," the company said in a press release last week.

In addition to offering cash-strapped CIOs some powerful financial incentives, the IBM customer-migration announcement also went on to dig very specifically at the uncertainty issue HP and Oracle have created for themselves:

" 'We are giving HP and Oracle-Sun clients a way to trade in their old equipment for credit for new Power Systems and get a great leasing program to help manage costs,' said Dan Ransdell, GM, IBM Global Financing, North America. 'We are hearing from clients that they are worried about fuzzy, uncertain product roadmaps and rising maintenance fees from other IT manufacturers. They can easily switch to IBM's latest workload optimized systems with leasing and an upgrade plan that protects against technology obsolescence.' "

On top of that, in a note to the media accompanying the press release, IBM's P.R. team bluntly stated Big Blue's desire to stoke those concerns about potential instability in the HP-Oracle roadmap and among its management:

"While those two companies publicly litigate Mark Hurd's future, we are going after their clients," says the note from IBM P.R. "Clients in this economy are looking for stable IT investments, and they are not hearing clear signals from Oracle or HP on what to expect from their acquisition strategies or leadership changes. Oracle offers a shaky product roadmap and Solaris 11 is long overdue. HP's recent product announcements are late to market (indeed, most are not yet available) and their one-off acquisitions have some clients scratching their heads."

While I realize CIOs don't base strategic decisions on messages from vendor P.R. teams, we can all be certain that IBM's sales teams are repeating those exact sames messages out in the field and highlighting not only the theatrics taking place among their primary competitors but also the enticing deals IBM is prepared to execute immediately.

SAP: In the middle of last week, SAP announced its intentions to stage on Sept. 14 a "global event to unveil SAP's vision for business analytics along with a new industry-tailored approach and family of solutions."

The online presentation will feature SAP CEO Bill McDermott plus CIOs from six customers to discuss "the importance and evolving role of analytics in business today," according to SAP.

And SAP's McDermott concurred that the recent goings-on with Oracle and SAP make this an ideal time for his company to push back aggressively against Oracle in the applications space, according to a New York Times interview with the SAP executive. Here's an excerpt from that article:

" 'This is net-positive for us,' he said in an interview on Wednesday.

"The potential benefit to SAP, Mr. McDermott explains, is that Oracle's executive-suite shuffling serves to underline the different paths the two companies are taking.

"In Mr. Hurd, Oracle is bringing in a top-shelf executive who knows computer hardware, both from his years at H.P. and at NCR before that. That strategic and operational know-how is crucial to Oracle, since it acquired Sun Microsystems earlier this year.

"Mr. McDermott called the Sun purchase 'Oracle's wild move into hardware.'

"By contrast, he said, SAP is 'staying true to its core' in software" (end of excerpt).

For its Sept. 14 event, SAP is expected roll out 15 new real-time business applications, according to the Times story, as well as a set of tools to help developers create mobile applications to complement the aggressive mobile position SAP has staked out, led by its acquisition this year of Sybase.

On top of that, the specific language used by SAP in describing its event counters an extremely pointed set of claims leveled against SAP by Ellison earlier this year when the Oracle chief said his company would overtake SAP in the enterprise apps business due in large part to Oracle's vast superiority in what Ellison repeatedly called "industry-specific functionality."

Looking to blunt that claim and cement among customers the notion that it has no intention of ceding even a fraction of its leadership in applications to Oracle, SAP says the new real-time business apps it will roll out will help drive its "new industry-tailored approach" and will include "industry-specific solutions."

Yes, at this point it's all a lot of talk, and yes, Oracle Open World starts in less than a week and will give Ellison and Oracle a tremendous platform for pushing back hard on IBM and SAP and every other IT company in the universe.

But in today's environment, CIOs have more than enough of their own concerns to manage without having to try to parse what, if anything, all the HP-Oracle drama might or might not mean to the IT strategies of those customers.

So it's the ideal time for IBM and SAP to rush in and try to convince those CIOs that there are better approaches available that offer not only less cost but also less uncertainty and less drama.

RECOMMENDED READING

Global CIO: IBM And Oracle Expose Hewlett-Packard's Achilles' Heel

Global CIO: In Hurd's Wake, An Ugly Ending For Oracle's Charles Phillips

Global CIO: Larry Ellison Looms Large Over Put-Down Of Oracle President

Global CIO: Resurrecting Mark Hurd: Larry Ellison's War With IBM

Global CIO: Larry Ellison And Mark Hurd: The Job Interview

Global CIO: Burying Mark Hurd: Hewlett-Packard And Its Future

Global CIO: Larry Ellison's Acquisition List: Who's #1?

Global CIO: Hewlett-Packard CEO Hurd's Strategy: The Infrastructure Company

Global CIO: Oracle Dumps HP After Co-Creating 'Most Successful Introduction Ever'

Global CIO: Larry Ellison's IBM-Slayer Is Oracle Exadata Machine

Global CIO: Oracle's Larry Ellison Declares War On IBM And SAP

Global CIO: IBM Claims Hardware Supremacy And Calls Out HP's Hurd

Global CIO: Larry Ellison's Hardware Boasts Are Nonsense, Says IBM

Global CIO: Oracle Needs More Than Talk To Beat IBM's Systems

Global CIO: Oracle CEO Larry Ellison's Top 10 Reasons For Buying Sun

Global CIO: Oracle CEO Larry Ellison On The Future Of IT

IBM CEO Sam Palmisano Talks With Global CIO

Global CIO: An Open Letter To Oracle CEO Larry Ellison

Global CIO: Sam Palmisano's Grand Strategy For IBM

GlobalCIO Bob Evans is senior VP and director of InformationWeek's Global CIO unit.

To find out more about Bob Evans, please visit his page.

For more Global CIO perspectives, check out Global CIO,
or write to Bob at bevans@techweb.com.

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