The obvious:

  • SAP gets its own relational (Sybase ASE) and analytical (Sybase IQ) DBMS. Why is this a positive since SAP already has tight partnerships with major DBMS and DW vendors such as Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, Teradata, and HP? Simple. First, SAP can now control the code. Second, SAP can now potentially reduce reliance on DBMS partners, most of whom (Oracle, IBM, Microsoft) have their own full software stacks and therefore compete, often putting a strain on partnership relationships.
  • SAP also gets highly relevant (for low latency BI) and currently missing CEP technolgy from the Sybase Aleri acquisition and an OEM version of Coral8.
  • Sybase gets a badly needed BI front end on top of its Sybase IQ analytical DBMS. While Sybase is leading the market in the columnar DBMS, it is somewhat challenged selling and positioning the product with the business buyers, since they can’t really see, feel, or touch it.

The not so obvious:

  • Will SAP BW be now certified on ASE, IQ, or both? IQ is probably a better choice, since BW is mostly analytical and not transactional. But first, that would require giving IQ an MDX interface which it does not have. Second, BW architecture calls for building OLAP cubes (InfoCubes), and IQ is all about columnar architecture which does not require cubes (can often query, group,  sort and rank faster than cubes). So both engines (BW and IQ) would require significant re-architecting. Putting BW on ASE would probably be architecturally easier, but it would not then take advantage of all the benefits that columnar technology brings to DW and BI. I hear from some of my colleagues that certifying SAP ERP apps and BW on a DBMS platform is at least a two-year process (is it true?) - so this may not even be relevant in the short term.
  • There’s quite an overlap between Sybase IQ and SAP TREX (DBMS that BIA is based on) engines, both columnar. SybaseIQ is way more mature, but TREX is optimized to run in memory. Perhaps, best of both worlds?
  • There’s also an overlap in SAP BusinessObjects and Sybase EII technologies. Neither are market leading, so combining two mediocre products with tiny market shares may not be the best option. I say SAP now needs to acquire Composite Software and complete the physical + virtual DW picture.
  • And last, but not least. Today, SAP requires that both ERP and BW apps run on the same DBMS platform. Will this change? For SAP's sake, I suggest that they do change this model, since this will allow them to upsell/cross-sell BW on their own DBMS platform (as a black box) to customers who otherwise standardized on competing DBMS. That's viral strategy 101.

What's next? Plenty. SAP is still missing a few key BI components:

  • Seamless analysis of structured data and unstructured content. Perhaps an Endeca or Attivio acquisition will make sense here.
  • Even though SAP is positioning Explorer with BIA as its in-memory technology, it serves a different purpose than other, more general in-memory tools. I say a QlikTech acquisition is not totally out of the question.
  • Advanced analytics. Perhaps SAP will revisit SAS talks, but that's highly unlikely until Dr. Goodnight is ready to retire. And I don't think he is. Plenty of other targets, though.
  • Process analytics. Pegasystems? Appian?

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