Although it’s relatively unrelated to any important message, we’ve enjoyed watching the battle between SAP and Oracle, aka the false gods of the almighty algorithm. The fact that they are spending considerable resources duking it out means they have less to spend on convincing naive manufacturers that they must have complex software to perform simple tasks that can often be done with a whiteboard and some pizza. We first told you about a particularly bizarre front of the battle way back last March:
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.
Ingenious? Perhaps. But messing with intellectual property is a hot potato. And yesterday it finally became a bit too hot.
Battling allegations of corporate espionage, business software maker SAP AG cut its ties with the leaders of a subsidiary that infiltrated rival Oracle Corp.’s computers to fetch information about Oracle’s products. Besides overhauling TomorrowNow’s management, SAP said it is exploring selling the Bryan, Texas-based subsidiary, which will now be run by one of SAP’s top U.S. executives, Mark White, who was appointed TomorrowNow’s executive chairman in July.
Oracle’s lawsuit against SAP is still moving forward, with the trial expected to begin early next year in San Francisco.
We simply enjoy this battle out of pure amusement; there is really no deep underlying message, except perhaps to be careful about messing with IP. But some see it as a negative. Take for instance Frank Scavo of The Enterprise System Spectator blog…
It’s too bad, because the nascent third-party support model has a lot to offer as an alternative to direct vendor support. It gives customers choices and puts the primary vendor on notice that it cannot take its maintenance and support business for granted. Unfortunately, SAP’s misstep with TomorrowNow has been a setback for the model.
True, but when the "third party" is also your arch competitor… hmmm. Well I don’t know. But it’s fun to watch.