Regular readers know that we have a pretty low opinion of MRP/ERP software and in general prefer the simple excellence of manual visual systems for shop floor control. It’s not that we’re luddites living in fear of new technology, but instead it’s that technology can have an annoying habit of covering up waste. A wasteful process that is carried out with extreme methodical efficiency is still a wasteful process, and as such it adds no value to the customer.
So you can understand my amusement and perhaps outright frivolity when I read about Oracle suing SAP. A battle of the titans! A duel of the supreme false gods of the almighty algorithm! What could be more fun to watch, except perhaps Florida taking on UCLA in the NCAA final four this Saturday?
The lawsuit is obviously no laughing matter, although the allegation is of an ingenious attempt by SAP to offer better and cheaper customer service on Oracle products to Oracle customers than Oracle itself does in order to eventually convert them to SAP. Get that? Pretty neat trick, eh?
Just before Oracle completed its acquisition of PeopleSoft, 37 PeopleSoft support techs created a new company called TomorrowNow, based in Bryan, Texas. SAP rapidly snatched them up, closing the deal at almost the same time as Oracle closed the PeopleSoft deal.
Oracle’s lawsuit alleges that SAP TomorrowNow (SAP TN) then began to access Oracle’s protected customer support databases, using usernames of PeopleSoft (now Oracle) customers that would soon expire. Massive downloading of technical and support documentation was recorded and traced back to Bryan, Texas. SAP then went after Oracle customers and offered them support on Oracle products for half the price of Oracle’s own support. The program was called "Safe Passage," as it was intended to offer a "safe" pathway to migrate from Oracle to SAP products.
Oracle confessed to wondering how a small company like SAP TN could develop and offer "customized ongoing tax and regulatory updates," "fixes for serious issues," "full upgrade script support" and "most remarkably, ’30-minute response time, 24x7x365′ on software programs for which it had no intellectual property rights" at "50 cents on the dollar, and purported to add full support for an entirely different product line with a wave of the hand.
No kidding… that does sound a little suspicious. It’s rare to get that level of support at any price… even from the actual creator of the product. Let alone its archrival! Stay tuned; this duel will be going on long after UCLA takes the crown.