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SAP starts to meld Business Objects partners into PartnerEdge

SAP starts to bring Business Objects' service and solutions partners into its PartnerEdge program fold.

SAP is starting to bring Business Objects' service provider and software solution partners into its PartnerEdge program.

At Sapphire 08 this week, SAP AG outlined plans to bring Business Objects service providers and independent software vendors (ISVs) into its two-year-old PartnerEdge program.

SAP, the leader in enterprise resource planning (ERP), has 2,400 service partners worldwide; Business Objects adds another 75, Jorg Jung, SAP's head of global partner operations and services, told

Among software solution providers, there are 600 for SAP and a broader group of 1,700 ISVs with SAP-certified solutions. Business Objects has an additional 85 software solution providers, 10 of which were already affiliated with SAP. SAP has also extended its certification program to Business Objects partners.

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There are no additional plans to bring some 5,000 Business Objects resellers into PartnerEdge. Instead, they will work they way they always have, Jung said. "They will be part of an open ecosystem. We'll keep them doing what they're doing. There is no need to harmonize anything there because there is no counterpart to them in SAP's world," Jung said.

In early April, SAP said it would pay a referral fee to non-partners who nonetheless influence the sale of SAP or Business Objects products into accounts.

With Oracle's purchase last year of Hyperion, SAP's Business Objects buy and IBM's acquisition of Cognos, it is clear that business intelligence (BI) has been pulled into the mainstream. There are virtually no "pure-play" BI companies left standing and BI partners are acutely aware of that.

Several Business Objects BI partners also work with Oracle databases and/or applications, for example, and Oracle would dearly like to bring them into its Hyperion stable.

As the vendors move their rivalry up the software stack, BI partners see opportunities but some worry that they may be pulled into a one-vendor solution sale.

Some of these integration partners say there is still appeal in layering best-of-breed analytics or business intelligence atop an industry-leading database from IBM or Oracle or Microsoft. Now that all those database and applications kingpins have their own BI offerings, some of that attraction may fade, they say.

Still, some of these partners are now in the catbird seat. Some Business Objects partners report that Oracle is trying to win them over for Hyperion. Both SAP and Oracle face channel issues because of their historically enterprise-focused direct sales approach. PartnerEdge is aimed at boosting SAP coverage of what it calls small and medium enterprise (SME) accounts with partners. The company has said that 40% of sales into such accounts now involve partners.

Jung said that attempt by Oracle is flattering. "Oracle should see tighter competition," he said. "Even before we acquired Business Objects, we turned 111 former Oracle Hyperion customers into happy SAP customers."

Despite the good face SAP put on for its annual confab, there are some clouds on the horizon for all the enterprise software players. In the wake of SAP's weak software sales in the U.S. last quarter and Oracle's completion of the BEA Systems buyout, both companies are expected to cut headcount. In fact, JMP Securities analyst Patrick Walravens said SAP layoffs are now underway in the U.S.

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