IBM Taps SAP For Global Single-Instance Project - InformationWeek

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IT Leadership // CIO Insights & Innovation
Commentary
11/3/2009
12:49 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
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IBM Taps SAP For Global Single-Instance Project

IBM is consolidating its extensive global collection of individual SAP applications and versions into a single global instance that will deliver greater resilience and flexibility to IBM's operations in 170 countries around the world, revealed IBM CIO Pat Toole in an interview yesterday.

IBM is consolidating its extensive global collection of individual SAP applications and versions into a single global instance that will deliver greater resilience and flexibility to IBM's operations in 170 countries around the world, revealed IBM CIO Pat Toole in an interview yesterday.Calling the project "Blue Harmony," Toole said that IBM's multiple instances of multiple SAP applications running in different configurations all over the world have made it too difficult and expensive to adequately support and upgrade those strategic applications and their corresponding business processes.

Toole said that under the current disjointed situation, "there's just not enough muscle to lift all that-there's just not enough dollars in the budget-and the result is you just run out of gas. You can't do it." The global single instance will include SAP CRM 7.0 and SAP ERP Central Component 6.0.

The Blue Harmony project is expected to take five years, and IBM is currently nearing completion of its global design system. It will be deployed initially in pilot projects in one growth market and one established market; following the pilot, a worldwide rollout will ensue. IBM also emphasized that it will be deployed to all business units globally.

As an example, Toole cited payroll applications being run in 170 different countries, and the complex sets of information such applications require up-front and that in turn they produce. All that disconnected information and its impact on many parts of the company-legal, financial, HR, etc.-were becoming a drag on IBM's ongoing efforts to evolve its business models and product sets, and to redeploy its people around the globe rapidly and sometimes dramatically to align with emerging demand and opportunities.

"So just in payroll, such a move can be incredibly helpful," Toole said in an interview at IBM corporate headquarters in Armonk. Overall, the company said, Blue Harmony is expected to enhance IBM's position as a truly globally integrated enterprise, operating as one consistent business across the world.

The project also underscores the long-term relationship between SAP and IBM across multiple dimensions, which represents a significant advantage for SAP in its ongoing competition with Oracle. I analyzed those dynamics in a recent Global CIO column called, "In Oracle Vs. SAP, IBM Could Tip Balance."

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