SAP Aims to Become Major Database Software Maker

   on March 15 2012 10:45 PM
Shareholders arrive for the SAP group general shareholder assembly in Mannheim
Shareholders arrive for the German software group SAP general shareholder assembly in Mannheim, May 25, 2011. REUTERS

(Reuters) - German software maker SAP AG says it intends to become a major provider of database software in a move that would heat up its long-running rivalry with Oracle Corp, led by Silicon Valley billionaire Larry Ellison.

SAP said it will disclose its plans at an April 10 news conference in downtown San Francisco, not far from Oracle's headquarters in Redwood City, California.

The German company is the world's biggest maker of business management software, which includes programs that manage tasks such as accounting, manufacturing and payroll. While Oracle is the No. 2 player in that market, it sells more software, thanks to its leadership in the multi billion-dollar market for databases.

SAP will unveil its unified data management portfolio and demonstrate how we will become a leading database vendor, the company said in a press advisory.

SAP acquired Sybase, the world's No. 4 maker of database software, in July 2010.

Former chief executive John Chen has stayed on as CEO of SAP's Sybase business unit, but has kept a low profile since the acquisition.

Chen is not scheduled to speak at the April 10 event, according to SAP spokesman Scott Behles.

Since the acquisition, SAP has focused on expanding Sybase's line of mobility software. It has so far said little about its plans for integrating Sybase's database technology with its other products.

In getting more aggressive in the database business, SAP will be taking on two of its closest sales partners - IBM Corp and Microsoft Corp.

Officials with IBM and Microsoft declined to comment on how SAP's moves might affect their relationships with the German company, which was founded in 1972 by five ex-IBM employees.

Last year, the company launched a specialized database dubbed Hana that pulled in 160 million euros ($208 million) in sales in its first two quarters on the market, ahead of SAP's target of 100 million euros.

So far SAP has sold the technology to handle a series of niche applications, helping companies analyze large quantities of data. But the company plans to make it available as a database for business management applications by the end of the year.

SAP will also discuss its mobility strategy at the news conference, Behles said.

Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger declined comment on the matter.

SAP and Oracle are in a bitter legal dispute over allegations a unit of SAP illegally downloaded millions of Oracle files.

A second trial is scheduled to begin in June after a judge threw out a jury decision that SAP should pay Oracle $1.3 billion.

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