Software // Information Management
Commentary
7/3/2007
02:29 PM
Rajan Chandras
Rajan Chandras
Commentary
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SAP Admits Reaching Inside Oracle Jar

About two months ago, I wrote a commentary on Oracle's lawsuit accusing SAP of extensive illegal downloads confidential material from Oracle Support. Today, SAP CEO Henning Kagermann admitted to "inappropriate downloads." Unfortunately, the candor is probably a little late in coming, and this is likely to be the beginning rather than the end for SAP's troubles.

About two months ago, I wrote a commentary on Oracle's lawsuit accusing SAP of extensive illegal downloads confidential material from Oracle Support. Today, SAP CEO Henning Kagermann admitted to "inappropriate downloads." Unfortunately, the candor is probably a little late in coming, and this is likely to be the beginning rather than the end for SAP's troubles.A recap, to jog your memory: The SAP subsidiary in the news - formerly TomorrowNow, based in Texas - specializes in offering cut-rate support for PeopleSoft and Siebel software. Apparently, it illegally downloaded more than ten thousand documents as well as software related to both the enterprise solutions in order to help in its quest for winning business away from Oracle.

There are several damning factors that tend to point a commonsense finger of accusation against SAP. For example, the sequence of events clearly indicates that the downloads were carried out after SAP acquired the subsidiary, which makes it difficult for SAP to justify that this action was not motivated somewhere higher above. Consider:

• SAP acquires TomorrowNow in early 2005. • Oracle completes PeopleSoft acquisition shortly thereafter, in 2005. • Oracle acquires Siebel in 2006. • TomorrowNow (now SAP TN) downloads PeopleSoft and Siebel materials from Oracle Web site in late 2006/early 2007

Moreover, the volume of downloads is equally difficult to defend. In one example cited, one Oracle customer averaged about 20 downloads per month; immediately after signing up with TomorrowNow for support, the number of downloads made through a user-id of that customer went up into the thousands.

Unfortunately for SAP management, their woes may not stop with the embarrassment and expenses arising from Oracle's charge. Apparently, employees of SAP TN used current and former Oracle customer accounts for the downloads - it should come as no surprise to Mr. Kagermann if these customers launch their own legal protests at this misuse, further adding to the damage.

SAP does have a defence of sorts: It seems that SAP had set up a firewall that prevented the downloaded material, so the downloads stayed on the subsidiary's servers and did not reach SAP headquarters. Which raises the interesting question: why did SAP feel the need for this firewall in the first place?

Rajan Chandras is a consultant with a global IT consulting, systems integration and outsourcing firm, and can be reached at rchandras@gmail.com.About two months ago, I wrote a commentary on Oracle's lawsuit accusing SAP of extensive illegal downloads confidential material from Oracle Support. Today, SAP CEO Henning Kagermann admitted to "inappropriate downloads." Unfortunately, the candor is probably a little late in coming, and this is likely to be the beginning rather than the end for SAP's troubles.

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