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Microsoft Should Acquire SAP, Not Yahoo

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the few-billion-more dept.

Businesses 188

Reservoir Hill writes "Randall Stross has an insightful article in the NY Times that says that if Microsoft thinks this is the right time to try a major acquisition on a scale it has never tried before, it should pursue not Yahoo but SAP, another major player in business software, thus merging Microsoft's strength with that of another. This is more likely to produce a happy outcome than yoking two ailing businesses, Yahoo's and Microsoft's own online offerings, and hoping for a miracle. Stross points to Oracle as a company whose acquisition strategy has picked up key products and customers while avoiding venturing too far from its core business, or overpaying. Stross recommends that Microsoft acquire SAP and leave it alone as an autonomous division — which would avoid a culture-clash integration fiasco. Besides, large enterprise customers are arguably the best customers a software company can have. A few dozen well-paying Fortune 500 customers may actually be more valuable than tens of millions of Web e-mail 'customers' who pay nothing for the service and whose attention is not highly valued by online advertisers."

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188 comments

Wrong POV. (5, Interesting)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 6 years ago | (#22540842)

The article is looking at things totally from the wrong point of view - it's as if they believe that Microsoft's problem is that it has a huge pile of cash & don't know what to do with it.

It's not. Microsoft's problem is Google. Google are eating them in the only arena where you can make serious money on the web (ad brokerage) and doing things to threaten MS's monopoly elsewhere (Google Apps, Photoshop on linux, Webmail, etc)

The Yahoo purchase might not be a solution to this problem, but a SAP purchase sure as hell won't be.

(and frankly, I can't imagine SAP's websphere/java using userbase being enthused with the next SAP release being C# only)

Re:Wrong POV. (5, Insightful)

Serious Lemur (1236978) | more than 6 years ago | (#22540884)

Great point. However, it's worth mentioning that Microsoft isn't in all that much trouble from Google. They still have a virtual monopoly on the OS market, which means that the only real "threats" to Microsoft's main income source are sites like /. where people give information about and advocate the use of other operating systems.

Re:Wrong POV. (4, Funny)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 6 years ago | (#22540924)

Because Google would /never/ considering doing anything in terms of an operating system. That's just silly!

Re:Wrong POV. (5, Interesting)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541002)

Because Google would /never/ considering doing anything in terms of an operating system. That's just silly!

I know you're just being funny, but you're right that they probably wouldn't bother coming up with their own proprietary OS. I mean, they already use Linux internally anyway: that plus a lot of their own code is one of their strengths.

Now, what would cause problems for Microsoft would be a Google distro marketed to the Dells and HPs and Lenovos of the world, and also on store shelves. Google has both the brand recognition and the in-house technical skill to pull that off, and it's probably that which keeps Ballmer awake at night. Hell, much of the overseas market would jump on a Google OS in a heartbeat: Microsoft is not well-liked in many parts of the world. I kinda hope they do it, just to shake up Redmond a little.

Worse yet for Microsoft, if such a Linux distro just happened to integrate phenomenally well with Google's online services and Android offering ... well.

Re:Wrong POV. (2, Interesting)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541080)

Now, what would cause problems for Microsoft would be a Google distro marketed to the Dells and HPs and Lenovos of the world, and also on store shelves.
But we already have a marketing department [ubuntu.com] , and they seem to have been at least somewhat [dell.com] successful. Are you saying they're missing something important that only Google has?

Re:Wrong POV. (3, Interesting)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541148)

Good point, but many more people know what Google is (or at least know what it does). If you went around asking what Google and Ubuntu are to a bunch of random schmoes then chances are that much more would be familiar with only Google. Google could create their own distro, or they could build an OS from scratch which could be successful if it were interoperable with all the other players and, of course, it Just Worked(TM) -- but that would be one hell of an undertaking.

Re:Wrong POV. (1)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541272)

How exactly is Ubuntu a marketing department for Google? If anything the distro that markets Google is gOS.

Re:Wrong POV. (4, Insightful)

Desipis (775282) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541538)

Are you saying they're missing something important that only Google has?

Google has brand name recognition, almost everyone with any exposure to computers will recognise Google. Only people familiar with Linux will know Ubuntu.

Re:Wrong POV. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22541270)

RE:["Microsoft is not well-liked in many parts of the world. "]

microsoft is not universally liked by everyone right here in the USA too, i for one have nothing but disdain and contempt for microsoft...

Re:Wrong POV. (0, Troll)

Jasin Natael (14968) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541508)

To speak for the other 99% of the world, replace 'disdain' with 'envy'.

Re:Wrong POV. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22541334)

Microsofts main business might be OS's but its second business is Office and tools like that. Google has taken a considerable market from them with opensource tools like their email and free text editors.

Re:Wrong POV. (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541832)

"Because Google would /never/ considering doing anything in terms of an operating system. That's just silly!"

I think they should pursue this line (more or less the gOS the Everex Clousdbook uses) not in the same game as Microsoft, but to further commoditize the OS. Having an OS that's inexpensive, reliable and able to easily integrate online app offerings would inflict another painful wound on Microsoft.

Take their OS monopoly away and they will crumble in no time.

Re:Wrong POV. (4, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541088)

Great point. However, it's worth mentioning that Microsoft isn't in all that much trouble from Google. They still have a virtual monopoly on the OS market,
And Google has a virtual lock on the internet advertising market (75% world wide in 2007 IIRC).

Now which do you think is going to be a bigger growth industry:
A) OS sales as 3rd world countries develop
B) Internet advertising as 3rd world countries develop

Hint: Only one of these things does not require the copyright police to enforce your business model

Re:Wrong POV. (4, Insightful)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541258)

Only one of these things does not require the copyright police to enforce your business model

And perhaps even more important ... the copyright attitude

Re:Wrong POV. (1)

Serious Lemur (1236978) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541870)

Microsoft doesn't care how much money they make as long as they turn a profit!

Re:Wrong POV. (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542054)

And Google has a virtual lock on the internet advertising market (75% world wide in 2007 IIRC).

According to Microsoft, Google had about 65% of the worldwide online advertising market in 2007. But that is just according to how much profit each company reported and does not necessarily reflect how much potential money there is if you count on one or more of those companies selling at below market value (probably Microsoft at least as this is what they do in everything but OS and Office suite markets and they have piles of cash) in order to try to gain ground.

I also dislike your phrasing. Google has a large share (although less than most countries would consider an antitrust issue) but you specifically said "lock" and I don't see it. What actions has Google taken (using their market share) to prevent advertising buyers from switching to another service or using multiple services? That is where we need to be careful since that is where large market share starts to undermine the free capitalist market and negatively affect the industry. So far, I haven's seen any such actions. Have you and can you cite examples?

Re:Wrong POV. (1)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541246)

the only real "threats" to Microsoft's main income source are sites like /. where people give information about and advocate the use of other operating systems.
I'm surprised that Microsoft isn't buying Slashdot then.

Re:Wrong POV. (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541344)

Bah. We would just assemble somewhere else (Chips 'N Dip reborn?). Or; we could be scattered to the wind, advocating FOSS anywhere even slightly resembling a tech site.

Re:Wrong POV. (2, Interesting)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541512)

Microsoft is not in trouble from Google, but Yahoo is.

Yahoo plus Microsoft clout potentially creates a Pepsi to Google's Coke in the search area. All those advertising dollars that are fleeing from network TV have two places to go, not just one.

Yahoo has been trying to get on equal terms by itself, Microsoft has been spending squillions to buy up the best brains they can in the area but they don't have the business base to work from.

The bigger concern for the industry though should be where Mr Softy and The Goo go next. Microsoft can buy SAP and Yahoo, its not either/or. Google is likely to buy stuff as well. The same math works for them.

Not quite correct (5, Interesting)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#22540932)

MS's main problem is not Google per se, but a Google obsession.

MS has failed dismally with its various acquisitions, with very few exceptions. MS core money makers are OS and Office. They seem to be putting very little energy into Vista and fixing its problems, doing something which would make their core business sound. In fact it looks like they've just cut these adrift.

If Google had not emerged as the new obsession, they'd still be aiming for Apple with knock-off interfaces, Zune etc.

This is reaaly the MS tradgedy: instead of being customer focussed and delivering new exciting products and technologies (something such an organisation should be able to do with their huge resources), they have become competition focussed.

No, whinney is right on the point and so is MS (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22540998)

Google is going to kill MS unless MS can stop them. Keep in mind that MS has NEVER been customer focused. They have been about aquiring an edge. Well, they have one with their monopoly. And Google combined with OSS is likely to break it apart. In fact, I think that they are going to do what W. and even the EU has not done.

Re:No, whinney is right on the point and so is MS (2, Insightful)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541058)

How can Google kill them?

Google does not make operating system, dictate standards, or make make office software that runs 99% of all businesses.

I think Microsoft fears loss of control. Its silly and sorry Microsoft but Google IS THE STANDARD in search engine technology. Is that going to kill your business? Please

MS should be fear Google but not kill the Hen that lays the golden egg to do it. Wasting billions wont destroy a set standard. ITs going to be very very hard if not impossible. Otherwise Microsoft would have been unseated long ago.

 

Re:No, whinney is right on the point and so is MS (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541104)

Google does not make operating system, dictate standards, or make make office software that runs 99% of all businesses.
No, Google only exerts immense influence on what sort of online applications people are exposed to, not that this could ever matter...

Re:No, whinney is right on the point and so is MS (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541510)

Yep, all that Google influence coming across through IE on Windows.

Re:No, whinney is right on the point and so is MS (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541626)

I know bunches of people still cruising around the net on Win2K because they refuse to use a newer version of Windows. There's a general sentiment that once their PCs die they'll either switch over to a Mac or some Linux distro. Kinda funny, actually.

Re:No, whinney is right on the point and so is MS (4, Insightful)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541150)

Google does not make operating system, dictate standards, or make make office software that runs 99% of all businesses.


Google is working on number 3, is rapidly getting the necessary position to do number 2, and regards number 1 as irrelevant.

Re:No, whinney is right on the point and so is MS (2, Funny)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541234)

Whose side are you on, Benedict?!

Re:No, whinney is right on the point and so is MS (4, Interesting)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542102)

That's simply not true.

Microsoft has been, for a lot of its history, very customer focused. They would not be able to achieve their current market position without being customer focused. It wasn't until they have secured their monopoly on Windows through OEM deals that they became the evil company they are today.

I can remember a couple brilliant examples where they outsmarted their competition by paying attention to what the market really wanted:

- Windows for Workgroups: They realized people did not want file and servers - they wanted to share files and printers and do e-mail. WfW, for all its failures, was a bright example of simplicity. With this, they more or less took the low-end of the NetWare business from Novell. This foothold allowed them to claim the rest of NetWare's share with NT.

- Visual Basic: People wanted an easy to use language to develop for Windows. The C/C++ tools they had were hideously expensive and painful to use (they more or less still are - C++ on Windows helps create the ugliest C++ I ever saw). VB surpassed all other development environments for Windows for flexibility, ease of use and productivity. It was the Ruby on Rails of its time. Sadly, it pretty much caused massive brain damage to a generation of programmers that never quite recovered.

Windows 3: People wanted GUIs but couldn't care less about bulletproof multitasking. OS/2 was great, but Windows 3 hit the sweet spot. 3.11 hit it even better with its TrueType rendering.

Windows 95: The last major overhaul of their consumer OS. Gave a nice (for the time) and easy to use GUI overhaul to the tired Windows 3 desktop. Thanks to the problems with the 68K to PPC transition, it was even stable compared to Macs - a first for MS.

Re:Not quite correct (3, Interesting)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541294)

As someone pointed out, lack of customer focus is not a new thing for Microsoft. They have always been competitor focused. I don't think Microsoft can change this, it's too core to what their company is all about. Microsoft is always really unhappy when anybody talks about someone else more than them. They want to be 'it' for some rather amorphous domain of computer oriented mindshare.

Re:Not quite correct (0)

saleenS281 (859657) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541362)

That is quite possibly the most asinine comment ever modded 5 on slashdot to date. MS is putting little energy into Vista and fixing it's problems? Every heard of this little thing called SP1? [vistasp1.net]

Ya, you got me, they're only pushing north of 100 fixes in SP1, definitely not putting any energy into fixing any known issues with the OS. And you aren't simply digging for mod points by ragging on MS.

Re:Not quite correct (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542172)

They sure put a lot of effort into Vista and its SP1. On the other hand, it's painfully obvious that much effort did not translate into a timely delivery of a solid improvement over XP. This leads to the inescapable conclusion they put their effort in the wrong places.

Had they really been paying attention to their customers, they would have released Vista three years ago with a subset of its features. It would be twice as big as XP and run just as fast. Instead, they delivered what they thought the market wanted, years later than the market wanted and with less improvements than they expected and, surprise, the market does not want it at all.

Vista's failure was well deserved. Of course it will be sold by the millions, thanks to the OEM deals. But it is still a failure.

Re:Wrong POV. (4, Insightful)

alen (225700) | more than 6 years ago | (#22540992)

Google apps are a joke for the enterprise software market as well as any public company due to SOX, HIPAA and other laws. this article actually has a point

with Yahoo Microsoft is paying $40 billion for a bunch of web designers, some media contracts and other intellectual talent that can flee at any time and MS will have to keep the business going. Customers can flee to any competitor with a minimum of problems.

with SAP Microsoft will gain a product lineup with large customers that pay for service, can't migrate easily and SAP's product will have synergies with Microsoft's other products where they can sell more products to a customer.

and Google seems to be coming to the end of the current growth cycle. revenue and profit growth seems to have peaked, expenses are going up, they seem to be expanding to new areas that don't really make any sense to the core business, the new expansions don't seem to be #1 in their areas and Google doesn't seem to want to make them #1, Google's big thing is the search algorithm and the infrastructure behind it and they don't really own any data they return and the owners of the data may one day start to demand royalties or block Google from it like say blocking their site from Google News, funny things happen in recessions when businesses start looking under every rock from cash, a lot of Google's customers are small businesses and have a real chance of going under in a recession

Re:Wrong POV. (3, Insightful)

LiENUS (207736) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541070)

Google apps are a joke for the enterprise software market as well as any public company due to SOX, HIPAA and other laws.
Google apps hosted by google are a joke. Google apps hosted locally within your corporation are a great idea. They have the potential to provide enhanced security and privacy. The problem with Google aps is functionality. Google docs has no concept of margins whatsoever and Googles workaround is to resize your browser window. Google could potentially solve these problems but from what I've seen they don't seem interested in fixing issues like this. Just adding the next wizzbang feature. MS Office does an excellent job of things that a document application should do, as does OpenOffice.Org. Google docs does not do these things.

Re:Wrong POV. (3, Interesting)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541222)

I would strongly disagree.

Google has made a lot of money from ad sales and web search. That's one big fat market segment, without a doubt. But no one uses google for comporate data processing. They do, however (and for better or worse), use SAP. In the services sector, which Yahoo and Google aren't in, SAP is big. That's not to say that they're brilliant but they do make money and are a 'best of breed' (doesn't speak well of the breed, but that's another post).

Yahoo is real estate. SAP is a running, producing engine. I think SAP is a better idea. Leave Yahoo alone, I'd say to Microsoft. Stick with what you do best: tying up clientele with proprietary, always-needs-integration stuff.

Re:Wrong POV. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22541676)

You have no idea what you're talking about.

SAP / Oracle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22541958)

Isn't SAP already owned by Oracle?

No they should acquire.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22540870)

IBM. It would make them really unstoppable.

Re:No they should acquire.... (3, Funny)

SacredByte (1122105) | more than 6 years ago | (#22540990)

No it wouldn't.

Aquiring IBM would just make them brag about how they had something better in the pipeline whenever anyone released anything.

Re:No they should acquire.... (1)

SamuelA1337O (1019988) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541098)

Corporate customers might take the red ring of death on million dollar servers seriously.

Anyone who buys Microsoft is a big enough SAP (3, Funny)

Black Art (3335) | more than 6 years ago | (#22540874)

Maybe it will SAP their will to live.

Re:Anyone who buys Microsoft is a big enough SAP (1)

superdave80 (1226592) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541176)

The thing that makes me laugh most about this joke is that according to my wife (who's company uses SAP), you NEVER pronounce it sap in front of the consultants. It is always S-A-P, and they always make sure to correct you every time.

I then made sure to pronounce it sap in front of our consultants when the company I worked for switched over. :-)

Re:Anyone who buys Microsoft is a big enough SAP (1)

professional_troll (1178701) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541186)

Makes sense, Microsoft and SAP will fit like a custom made glove, fit right into the rest of the crap Microsoft sells full of unreadable code (at least you can read SAP's code if you are fluent in German)

Re:Anyone who buys Microsoft is a big enough SAP (1)

eclectro (227083) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541282)

Forget SAP. They need to acquire Linux.

Oh, the humanity. (5, Insightful)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#22540878)

SAP is already a nightmare, I can't imagine Microsoft expending serious efforts to roll it into the Windows Server platform. It'd be like watching a thousand train wrecks, again and again...

It's like a beached whale (1)

russlar (1122455) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541040)

SAP is already a nightmare, I can't imagine Microsoft expending serious efforts to roll it into the Windows Server platform. It'd be like watching a thousand train wrecks, again and again...
Kind of like a beached whale. It's too big to ignore, but all your efforts to save it are a waste of time; even if you do get it back into the ocean, it's just going to beach itself again in a couple of days.

Re:Oh, the humanity. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22541160)

Heh, I came in here to basically say the same thing.

I was a SAP basis administrator/developer a long time ago. I was there when the company I worked at switched from mainframe to SAP. Oh how that sucked.

Re:Oh, the humanity. (4, Insightful)

canuck57 (662392) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541324)

SAP is already a nightmare, I can't imagine Microsoft expending serious efforts to roll it into the Windows Server platform. It'd be like watching a thousand train wrecks, again and again...

Let me rephrase that for you.

The Microsoft platforms can't handle a sizable SAP platform without becoming unstable for mid-afternoon siesta (reboot).

Re:Oh, the humanity. (2, Interesting)

digitalamish (449285) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541518)

I have to agree here. I've been using SAP for almost 10 years now from the technical support side, and I can only imagine what "improvements" MS would make. They only company I can see benefitting from this merger is Oracle and their ERP solution.

Oh, and I can promise you this, if one day in the future I open my SAPGui and that damn paperclip pops up to ask "I see you are trying to heirarchy to organize your material management, can I help?", I will drive to Redwood and burn it to the ground. Not just MS, the whole city.

Re:Oh, the humanity. (2, Informative)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541536)

I think you meant Redmond [redmond.wa.us] , which apparently runs their city's website on Windows 2000 [netcraft.com] , but your point still stands :).

Re:You will adapt to service US. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22541562)

Cool. Now I can add the Borg Gates to my bumper sticker design: "SAP eats babies." (TOTALLY trademarked, steal it and die...)

Due Dilegence would fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22541638)

SAP supports how many various platforms? how many databases? Their sole beloved language of ABAP? Half the SAP development team would quit because they've done nothing but code ABAP their whole lives. SAP does /not/ support Java internally or technically despite their marketing push otherwise, BTW.

Yes, a disastrous combination MS & SAP would make. Sounds good but they'd be in code refactor for a decade, and loose customer base while at it.

Buggy, half finished software == perfect fit (5, Funny)

GastonTheTruck (1048316) | more than 6 years ago | (#22540880)

SAP isn't so much a finished application as a license for the vendor to bleed you dry with "special" modules supposedly tailored to your business. In one way, Microsoft software doesn't fit that model (i.e. SAP isn't just a shrink wrapped product like Office). In another way, the endless bleeding of your tech dollars while your practices are changed to match the (in)capabilities of SAP would suit their revenue requirements perfectly. The real problem is that SAP is probably too labour intensive for a company like Microsoft.

Re:Buggy, half finished software == perfect fit (2, Insightful)

rainhill (86347) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541414)

I wander why this is "mod +5 funny"

Hey we have a bunch of cash (0, Troll)

SamuelA1337O (1019988) | more than 6 years ago | (#22540900)

Instead of paying dividends or buying back stock, let's overpay for companies and enrich investment bankers.

Re:Hey we have a bunch of cash (2, Insightful)

The Analog Kid (565327) | more than 6 years ago | (#22540954)

Instead of paying dividends or buying back stock, let's overpay for companies and enrich investment bankers.

According to their Cash Flow Statement, they do pay dividends and they do buy back stock.

Re:Hey we have a bunch of cash (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541078)

For years they did not and I was surprised the FTC didn't bust them on this.

Re:Hey we have a bunch of cash (2, Informative)

LiENUS (207736) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541100)

For years they did not and I was surprised the FTC didn't bust them on this.
Aren't stock buybacks and dividend payouts set by corporate charter and not the FTC?

Re:Hey we have a bunch of cash (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541196)

Yes.

Re:Hey we have a bunch of cash (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541688)

For years they did not and I was surprised the FTC didn't bust them on this.

I would say "You must be new here" but your ID is pretty far down by today's standards.

Megamonopoly (1, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#22540918)

If the time is right for Microsoft to ruin some big corporation by buying it out, why doesn't it just by out Microsoft, it's only real competition. That's how life is for a monopoly.

Really, Microsoft's problem is that it's too big and doesn't do anything interesting on its own. Helping it buy some other huge corp is going in exactly the wrong direction. Microsoft should be spitting up, not borging yet another corp out of business.

"Microsoft should be spitting up..." (1)

patiodragon (920102) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541470)

That is just gross.

Mountain Dew and Doritos. EVERYWHERE!

Re:Megamonopoly (1)

BosstonesOwn (794949) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541610)

Actually buying SAP would probably accelerate this.

I would like to see Ms buy SAP. Integrate some decent management tools into the management console.

I mean I hate SAP monitoring the batches is horrible in the ugly java looking window. And if MS could put some money into SAP and creating an alternative to Tivoli and I would be one happy sys admin. I hate Basis admin , it becomes a tedious task and is much harder then it really has to be. I think MS would be able to dumb it down a bit and make it easier for folks like me who have to look after multiple platforms.

SAP may be a nightmare but who is a SAP-CSE (1)

feckingmorons (1245492) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541006)

SAP actually works most of the time and does so quite well. The fact that there are not a million 'experts' with the papers to prove it is a benefit for SAP.

Re:SAP may be a nightmare but who is a SAP-CSE (3, Insightful)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541240)

The "benefits" of SAP are quite debatable. I'd say that's true for practically ALL of these "enterprise class" applications that try to tackle the problem of integration of incoming sales orders, corporate accounting, shipping, human resources, etc. etc.

It's "beneficial" for the consultants who get highly paid to train employees on how to use the software, and for the people who customize the software for each business that takes them up on a purchase. But beyond that, it's unclear that it's *really* an efficient, worthwhile solution.

From past experience, I've observed a trend where these companies (whether it's Oracle, SAP, or you name it) make big promises, a company "bites" (knowing that the problems outlined really ARE big issues they'd LOVE to solve), and then the vendor proceeds to bleed millions of dollars out of their new customer. Eventually, something is constructed/customized that accomplishes SOME of the original goals, but does so in a rather clunky, bug-infested manner, while other items on the "want list" get bumped to "future stages of implementation" (which often never really get completed, because they're too costly and complicated). By this time, upper level management is forced to cost-justify the monstrosity, so they do their best to keep their jobs (and pride) by praising the software as a "big improvement" or "big step towards greater efficiency". Vendor then makes sure to quote them on that, and moves to the next sucker... uh, I mean customer.

IMHO, as disappointing as most Microsoft products are, they built their empire on the exact OPPOSITE philosophy. They promised "relatively inexpensive, out of the box" solutions to problems. Microsoft has never been about customizing their software for individual clients while charging by hours spent on them, nor do they tie customers to "maintenance contracts". They simply develop applications they feel will appeal to the majority of PC users out there, and make corrections and additions as they go, largely based on the collective feedback they receive.

So sure, you have silly things like people running around in large numbers, waving their MCSE certifications, expecting they should command top salaries because of them. But it's probably no more "silly" than companies scrambling to hire "experienced SAP implementation specialists" - when in reality, it just means you have people who helped muddle through the process of selling the stuff to previous customers. (You have no idea if they've ever done any customization work relevant to YOUR company's specific needs.)

MS already has a Bussiness Application. (5, Interesting)

WildStream (318232) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541068)

Many people don't realize that MS already has a business Strategy for ERP systems. They've bought several small to large system. Navision, Great Plains, Axapta, Solomons. They have built in house CRM system and they are creating the Dynamics Product. Getting TOP 500 customers doesn't make sense for MS. They have already spent their money and won't change or grow. It's the small-mid businesses that will be growing and MS will be right there providing them with the right software. MS already considered buying SAP 6 or 7 years ago and the culture clash and business model did not fit MS goal, which is every business to run on their ERP system.

Re:MS already has a Bussiness Application. (1)

VTBassMatt (761333) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541108)

Minor nitpick: Dynamics is the brand under which AX, GP, CRM, and the others sit. It's not, by itself, a product name.

A point many posters are missing (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541190)

An acquisition works when both the acquirer and acquiree emerge stronger (ie sum greater than its parts). That is not the case with MS+Yahoo, but it could be with MS+SAP.

MS already have very strong business units dealing with large organisations and combining with SAP could potentially strengthen both parties by providing more vomplete solutions, one stop shopping & service etc.

By comparison, the yahoo thing is a wtf. Both MS and Yahoo are on the downward direction in click ads and online services and combining sums the numbers but does not improve the trend (ie downward + downward is still downward).

About the only thing that yahoo really seems to have is a reasonably sound base in yahoo groups. Moving a group is painful, so existing groups won't move to google groups just for fun. New groups are another matter, with google groups being far more appealing.

SAP does make more sense than Yahoo, but is it enough?

MS Business Applications suck (5, Informative)

adamkennedy (121032) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541568)

My current employer is a dominant player in our field, in a smallish country, that sells about a billion dollars of $stuff a year to 10,000 or so customers.

Our $30m+ competition for a new ERP system came down to SAP vs Microsoft.

SAP gave us 50 reference companies of similar size in similar industries, 5 of them in the same country as us, 3 of whom let us visit on site and grill them about their setups.

Microsoft gave us one reference company smaller than us in our country AT ALL, and one company in the US in a similar industry, but 10 times smaller than us.

We got the distinct impression that we would be pretty much the largest deployment EVER of Microsoft Business Apps in an industry similar to ours, by an order or magnitude.

SAP won, of course.

Microsoft has a horrid bootstrapping problem. Until they build up experience and a userbase that people like us can go visit and actually SEE their stuff working, they're going to struggle to be competitive.

The other big plus for SAP was their upgrade attitude "We understand that most of our customers want to upgrade their core ERP around every 8-12 years, on a Saturday afternoon" :)

Yahoo blows (-1, Troll)

opencity (582224) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541086)

Every time I've tried to use yahoo for ANYTHING it has always sucked. It sucked pre Google as a search engine. The digital music service sucks and they have some deals to keep music off iTunes which at least works. I know people with mail.yahoo.com email and the mail arrives so maybe Yahoo should just give away email accounts.

I'm not a big MS fan so if they bought yahoo and then went out of business that would be a two-fer.

Mod this down as OT venting.

Stupid Idea (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22541096)

Wrong platform: SAP runs on all sorts of platforms. Short of gutting the customer base there's no way they'll ever push platform support purely onto a windows platform. If they don't make that change though, then you'll have a mircrosoft division (SAP) selling you a product that runs on a combination of Solaris and Oracle. Talk about a non starter.

Wrong business model: SAP is a platform, meaning you buy it and then spend millions of dollars and years of consulting to "customize" it to your organization's needs. It's about as far from shrink wrap as you can get. Microsoft has virtually no experience in this kind of enterprise software market.

Wrong culture: SAP is about as germanic as a firm can be and, in their own way, every bit as committed to global domination as Microsoft is (albeit in a different market space). Trying to integrate the two firms, even into a loose confederation like, say, GE or Mitsubishi, and expecting anything other than all out, internal, bureaucratic warfare is willful ignorance (or gross stupidity).

Re:Stupid Idea (3, Funny)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541296)

SAP runs on all sorts of platforms.
I'm sure someone at Microsoft can solve this problem...

Tried and failed already. (1)

llawliet (1245500) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541110)

Microsoft and SAP already looked at a merger and realized it would never work. This has already come and gone a couple of years ago.

It won't happen (2, Insightful)

belmolis (702863) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541180)

The article is very likely right, but I don't see it happening, because what drives Microsoft is not so much profit as control and being seen as top dog in the computer world. Even if it proved even more profitable than their current business, MS would not be happy ceding its dominant position in the personal computer world and becoming a backstage purveyor of business software and services. MS would be obsessed with Google even if there were no threat from network applications because Google has been much more successful in an arena visible to the average person.

Buying SAP would be stupid (1)

naasking (94116) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541188)

Microsoft already has an SAP-like product line: Microsoft Dynamics. It's a better product built by a European company that MS bought out a few years ago. Why would MS buy SAP if they already have something better?

Re:Buying SAP would be stupid (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22541288)

No. Microsoft Dynamics was originally Great Plains accounting software. The Great Plains are not European; neither was the accounting software. And Microsoft Dynamics is designed for medium-sized businesses, not gigantic transnational corporations like SAP is.

Sludge in Concrete (1)

killmofasta (460565) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541198)

Microsoft and SAP. A marrage made in heaven!

SAP isn't the performance king, and requires the largest memory footprint of any application I have ever heard of. ( beats Battlefield 1942 hands down! )
and Vista, the OS, that has the largest footprint of any OS outside of z0S9 1.1

Clearly, there needs to be more Vista support for SAP,
I mean, dear god, whereare all those 16GB ram chips going to go?

Should acquire Yahoo, SAP, Chrysler AND Best Buy (4, Funny)

jddj (1085169) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541204)

That way, they'll have most of the shit I desperately want to avoid in one spot.

Re:Should acquire Yahoo, SAP, Chrysler AND Best Bu (1)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541300)

and Hollywood!

Nonsense (5, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541250)

I think SAP is a poor fit. Yahoo fits Microsoft's needs. Microsoft wants to further entrench user lock-in to their company. Buying SAP gets them more income directly, perhaps, but that money coming from big companies who can demand flexibility or hire IBM and go open source if need be. What Microsoft wants is to get their claws into more users' online services, which can be tied to Windows and MS specific protocols and formats. Their greatest fear is that the Web will allow other companies to supply al a user's basic needs via the browser, meaning those users can buy a Linux box or an OS X box or a Solaris box or an iPhone or a Blackberry or anything that is not Windows.

MS doesn't need more revenue. Their users will continue to pay because they have no choice. MS has their data and their networks locked up and the expense of switching is too high. MS doesn't want Yahoo to get more revenue. Almost all Yahoo users are Windows users and MS already collects their tithes. MS wants Yahoo to make sure Yahoo users are not given a choice of migrating to being Yahoo/Linux users or Yahoo/MacOS users instead of Yahoo/Windows users. Further they want the lion's share of the market so that most people are locked in. Right now, between Google and Yahoo, most users are not locked in for their mail and messaging and calendaring and in a short time, perhaps their office suite and IM and internet phone and internet TV and whatever else becomes a Web service. If they have most users then they can use that to break compatibility with Google and so Google will have to waste time, effort, and money trying to reverse engineer all of their proprietary apps, to the point of having to screen scrape to get data back to an open and usable format (which they already had had to do to some degree).

In summary, MS wants to buy people so they can use their normal tactics instead of competing to create a better product. If they were interested in making money on their acquisitions they would not have bought dozens of game companies and created the XBox. They want a presence in the living room so they can lock in people even more. Once they have lock-in they can take all the money they wish from people for perpetual upgrades and fees, so long as they make the pain of getting away from them greater than the cost at any given time.

What's in it for SAP? (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541268)

They're already an industry-leading, publicly traded company. Microsoft sure isn't going to increase their market share, and they have nothing at all to offer SAP in the way of technical or management skills.

-jcr

SAP is bad enough... (0, Troll)

Sorny (521429) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541278)

SAP is bad enough without a bunch of Microsoft crap thrown on top of it... Seriously. SAP = crap.

show of hands (1)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541406)

How many people here have actually worked at a company that went bankrupt trying to implement SAP "solutions"?

Re:show of hands (1)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542042)

We didn't go bankrupt because we pulled the plug after a year of trying to implement and went back to our seven year old, EOLed and unsupported solution. And no one has looked back.

Re:show of hands (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542100)

/me raises hand. That company had in a few years (with each change of CIO) solutions from SAP, PeopleSoft, some other package and Microsoft. The original IBM application was still working fine, running on some old mainframe from the early 90's (coax and green CRT terminals still all over the production area). Off course none of the new ones did their job and each had part of the business working so the year I came in, they had consultants (close to a 100, if you never heard of the mythical man-month, you should've been there) from all four companies trying to get it together.

Off course, when I got laid off, another company was trying to do a hostile takeover because everything was lagging behind. Customer service didn't have a clue what was going on since they used a different system than production and shipping was using something else too. It was hell working there, what was in the catalogs and what was actually shipping was almost a whole season different, you don't want that to happen in fashion.

MS see others pastures are greener (1)

rainhill (86347) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541428)

Microsoft sees others' pastures are greener and wants a piece of it, thats all.

What happens to ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22541430)

the excellent developer tools from Yahoo like YUI and their excellent developer website ?
Will it all be crushed by MS ?

Why Yahoo? (1)

vaxius (1178035) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541438)

I have the beginning of a theory for Microsoft's attempts to eat Yahoo. The Redmund Giant could buy out SAP instead to boost their strength in business software, but Microsoft believes that they are top dog in the business world already, and would like to expand their business into other areas instead (online services in this case). If Microsoft tried to buy Google, the DOJ would immediately throw an antitrust-related tantrum and put an end to the deal. However, gobbling up the search giant of the pre-Google era (Yahoo) is much less likely to raise enough red flags to block the deal, and Microsoft will have acquired the experienced people they need to develop the kind of web-based software that they need if they ever hope to compete with the likes of Google.

Better idea (1)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541456)

Microsoft should fly to the moon, install a giant "laser," and use it to blow up Google HQ.

and it shall be callled... (1)

greatscottsby (1233952) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542134)

the Alan Parsons Project!

Re:Better idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22542164)

You know I've come to resent the constant predictable one liners seen on /. on any given day, but that is how you say?? funny as hell!

I don't know much about business, but... (1)

jrhawk42 (1028964) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541490)

Wow I was really surprised the author didn't notice the obvious here. MS already owns about as much of the software industry as they legally can. For them buying another software company is just plain stupid. Not only do they risk more monopoly accusations and a potential company split, but it ties them in even closer to the software market when they need to diversify. As a business MS knows it needs to diversify itself to ensure it can survive in a market where things change quick. Five years ago if the software industry would of fallen out then so would of MS, but 5 years from now you won't be able to say the same thing. MS is investing into several diverse up and coming markets just like any smart company would. This is why we see the xbox, and the zune which are two of MS's major "non-software" products. As far as the web MS has repeatedly failed to catch up to google mostly because google spends it's funds a bit wiser than MS. I say this because google buys companies that are going to make it big (ie youtube.com), while MS has focused on web companies that are already pretty huge (yahoo, hotmail, and facebook). I think if MS wants to make a splash on the web it's going to have to take a few risks on some companies that haven't quite made it yet. My recommendation would be Pandora.com which is a pretty successful "net radio" site that creates custom channels according to your musical tastes. This little website is amazing for those that listen to music at work, or are too cheap/lazy to get a decent music collection. Of course this is just 1 of 100's of potential web sites that will be the next yahoo, google, myspace, facebook, and youtube.

Will never happen... (1)

Ukyo (21427) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541506)

SAP's current strengths are the large array of business partners and its business model of platform independence. Sometimes, it is a bit mind-boggling going through their support site and seeing all of the options you have for running some of their applications. Some people would call that complexity, others would call it flexibility. This flexibility, if Microsoft were to purchase SAP, would definitely go away. There is a litany of services/vendors that Microsoft has trouble converting (or has totally destroyed) when trying to assimilate them into their corporate culture. I fear this is what would happen with either a Yahoo or SAP purchase.

What do you think is going to happen when Microsoft takes its attitude of 'only on a Microsoft platform' and extends it, as they've had, with the SAP platform? A lot of angry customers, most sworn to never run core business components on a Microsoft platform. I'm sure that analysts would suggest that Microsoft keep their hands off of an SAP purchase (if it went through altogether); but the temptation would be too great.

Microsoft should focus on spending their money in making their customers happy in their current core competencies; make Windows Vista and Office the products people should be happy about using. Right now, they are the products most of the people I know are stuck with using. I'm at a loss as to why Microsoft obsesses with Google or SAP or Yahoo for that matter; I know they need to stay competitive, but I'm not convinced they are the leading innovators in their current field.

Re:Will never happen... (2, Insightful)

Greg_D (138979) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541576)

Oh, really? Sworn to never run core business components on a Microsoft platform? I doubt there are very many companies out there like that of the appreciable size necessary to run and get benefits out of running SAP. If Microsoft turns out to have the best platform for what you need to run, then you run a Microsoft platform.

What's more interesting is what happens to SAP's consultancy if Microsoft were to take over. There is a large percentage of SAP employees out there already who are less than enamored at all the cuts to their benefits and pay that they've had to endure since the tech boom. I know one woman who worked on the HR module who was getting billed out at 1300 dollars an hour. Another fellow who was pretty much the lead on developing the module left the tech world altogether to become a chef.

Innovate dammit! (4, Insightful)

El Pollo Loco (562236) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541540)

Okay, I understand that MS is hurting and they need to do something. My answer is MS research. You have the development labs. You have the cool ideas. Use them. INNOVATE DAMMIT. Google didn't get to this point by the standard merger philosophy. MS, you didn't get to where you are by stupid mergers and desperate acts. You got there by providing something that people wanted, in a better manner or for cheaper. Keep doing it. PUSH the boundaries of what you're doing. Yeah, it's higher risk. But the reward is higher. You get the revenue, the soft benefit of everyone loving your company vs everyone hating it. You'll avoid the monopoly claims because you won't be a monopoly. The only downside is higher risk. You have the cash to offset that. Use it.

Microsoft's real plan: (2, Interesting)

Brian Stretch (5304) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541618)

1) Knock down their own share price by announcing ridiculous hostile takeovers of companies that will never agree to it.
2) Buy back Microsoft stock on the (relatively) cheap
3) Profit!

Well, OK, the math isn't all that impressive, but slowly taking the company private through stock buybacks is considerably more sane than most other suggestions of what to do with their cash horde. If you ignore the huge chunks of stock controlled by Gates and a few other early owners it looks more plausible. Effectively going private over time by getting rid of the public stockholders would give Microsoft the ability to take more risks. Paying dividends to employee-owners is a much better model than handing out stock options now that the dot bomb insanity has wound down. (It's late, hopefully that's coherent...)

If I could tag this (2, Funny)

Vexorian (959249) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541668)

I would tag it "wtfissap" .

mod d0Wn (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22541748)

On google news (1)

dotmax (642602) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541820)

this /. article is a headline article on google news at this moment. wauw!

Dear Gods Please No! (1)

germansausage (682057) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541984)

As if people don't have enough reasons to hate them, Microsoft has to go and buy "The Nazi Spreadsheet From Hell". Truly the most "Procrustean" software ever. I last had to use SAP 4 years ago and I still have the shakes.
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