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SAP's Business ByDesign taking the slow road

SAP announced that the phased roll out for its on-demand enterprise suite, Business ByDesign, is moving much slower than previously expected.

SAP announced that its on demand enterprise suite Business ByDesign roll out is moving slower than previously expected.

The company said that it would take 12 to 18 months longer than the original target of 2010 to reach $1 billion in revenue and touch 10,000 customers in the mid-market globally. For 2008, SAP expects to have less than 1,000 customers across six countries.

SAP wants to make sure it doesn't flub Business ByDesign, which represents the future of the company. The company pioneered client/server ERP software, but has been slow to enter the rapidly growing on demand arena. SAP has said that it has deployed 2,500 engineers over the last four or five years to create Business ByDesign, which the company touts as the most complete on-demand suite across applications and industries.


SAP's plan is to provide 2,100 service interfaces in Business ByDesign, which will mesh with each other but will not be customizable, according SAP founder Hasso Plattner.

NetSuitehas been working on its on-demand suite for ten years, coming out with new versions yearly. And, is expanding its platform to include ERP capabilities, such as CODA's financial applications built on the platform.

Plattner differentiates Business ByDesign from by virtue of the completeness of the SAP suite. For SAP, software is about serving larger businesses with a complete, integrated suite of applications with "wall-to-wall functionality," Plattner said.

At a recent debate, CEO Marc Benioff challenged SAP founder Hasso Plattner.

Plattner was asked by Benioff if he would consider buying "It always makes sense to look into something. If the Apex platform (the platform) is really as good a he thinks it is, we should look even more," he said.

Plattner also had some advice for Benioff. "We have many things in common. Let me give you some advice, but you might not take it because you are younger: don't overestimate your platform."

Perhaps SAP has been overestimating its ability to deliver an on-demand solution. JMP Securities analyst Patrick Walravens contends that Business ByDesign doesn't have a single data model, but instead different workstations in silos, and is now working to rectify that situation. So far, SAP isn't talking.

SAP has stumbled in earlier attempts to move its business applications online. The company's initial foray into hosted applications was marked by shifting product plans and murky delivery schedules. SAP eventually launched a hybrid approach with CRM, with a product designed to work the same, whether used on-demand or on-premise.

In the meantime, Microsoft, and others have evolved their on demand applications. Salesforce, in particular, is moving ahead aggressively in the market with plans for an on demand platform service, in addition to expanding its business applications lineup.

See also:

Larry Dignan's coverage of SAP's quarterly results.

SAP's Peter Zencke: Inside Business ByDesign