By Gene Phifer and Derek Prior, Gartner analysts
SAP's announcement that it plans to reabsorb its U.S.-based Internet subsidiary is good news for most of its customers. It reduces the complexity of integration technologies across the broad SAP product line, removes sales channel conflicts and extends SAP's standard support processes across these newer products.
However, for customers and partners that subscribed to the vision of SAP
Portals, the move will likely make
it harder to sell to the non-SAP customer base.
When SAP acquired Top Tier Software and created SAP Portals a year ago, Gartner
highlighted the risk that SAP would exert undue influence over the portal unit's
direction. This influence was present during the past year, but it wasn't
stifling or obtrusive. However, now that SAP Portals is an operating
division of the parent company, it will have to focus more on the broader
needs of SAP, possibly to the detriment of its original goal of independence.
Nevertheless, Gartner believes this consolidation was inevitable. Two years
ago, SAP Markets was launched to exploit exchange technology. One year
later, SAP Portals was formed to exploit portal technology. Both areas,
however, have rapidly matured from pure technology efforts into
application-driven opportunities. These smaller technology-driven
subsidiaries were free to evolve more rapidly than they could within SAP.
That kind of development was critical for SAP, which could not afford to be
late to Internet opportunities twice. Enterprise Portal 5.0 has already
evolved to offer collaborative application content for interactive user
integration. Business Packages offers business content for internal users
(employees, managers and directors) as well as external users (customers,
suppliers and partners), based on information and experience derived from
SAP's application portfolio.
Shai Agassi, who led the subsidiary, will head the new group within SAP. His
promotion to director promises a reinvigoration of the entrepreneurial spirit within the
SAP board. Agassi will likely target the non-SAP market, but in a smaller
SAP customers should continue business as usual but pay close attention to
the future development of this new business unit. Much of the company's future
software functions will likely be delivered by it. Non-SAP customers should view
this announcement as a possible step back in the proprietary direction,
rather than further down the open-systems road.
(For a related commentary on SAP, see gartner.com.)
Entire contents, Copyright © 2002 Gartner, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.