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Global CIO: Oracle's Larry Ellison Mixes Fiction With Facts On SAP

Lashing out at SAP on why Oracle will take the lead in enterprise apps, Ellison said some things that he might believe are true but aren't necessarily so.

3) Business ByDesign is late—is that a bad thing? In the comment above, Ellison takes a dig at SAP for being late with BBD and seems to indicate that's a problem, a flaw, a sign of trouble. But later in his comments, he turns tardiness into a virtue by saying that Oracle's blown deadlines on Fusion are a good thing: "One thing we did not do, we did not make the mistake of trying to rush this thing, and try to get this thing out early. Were we late with Fusion? Yes we were late. I'd much rather be late than deliver a product that isn't extremely high quality." Oracle doesn't have a corner on quality and SAP's execution timetable on BBD deserves the same qualifications Ellison wants to give to SAP.

So Ellison was correct in saying BBD is late, but he was wrong in implying that was some exclusive shortcoming on SAP's part.

4) SAP has only limited industry-specific applications. Ellison said, "SAP is not a diversified company in terms of their application suite. They don't have a lot of what you're calling edge applications, they don't have a lot of industry-specific applications, and their technology is fraying around the edges. So some of it is our good execution, I think, and some of it is problems at SAP." While Ellison's comments also centered on what he was calling "industry-specific functionality" and how Oracle's apps do things in telecom and banking that SAP's don't do, it just doesn't wash to say SAP's applications aren't diversified and that it doesn't have "a lot of industry-specific applications." SAP has more than 90,000 customers, including most of the Fortune 100—are those companies merely ninnies that have invested billions and billions of dollars in SAP's products for no reason? And SAP's website includes an extensive list of industry-specific solutions aimed at companies of all sizes. On the other hand, Ellison's surely right that Oracle's long-time focus on telecom companies and banks have resulted in Oracle having the upper hand in some features and capabilities for some applications—but that achievement does not thereby mean SAP doesn't "have a lot of industry-specific applications."

Once again, Ellison chose to weave some dubious fiction into his discussion of the SAP-Oracle competitive situation.

So I felt it was important, after having shared Ellison's comments on his plans for overtaking IBM and SAP, to scrutinize some of the more florid charges Ellison made. Oracle's intensified efforts in the applications space are good for the market, and for all of Ellison's comments to the contrary, I think he'll find SAP to be as much or more of a competitor than he would like.

And the truly valuable outcome of this escalated competiton will mean that the real winners will be the CIOs and businesses that will reap the benefits of having two aggressive and highly capable companies striving to deliver the greatest solutions in the world.


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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

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