The Irregulars News Site

One of the interesting after-effects of my experience with bloggers at our Sapphire event was the fact that the group remained a group after the event concluded. The group is dubbed the “Irregulars” and features a number of prominent voices in the enterprise technology blogosphere. We have several really productive communication channels where we roundtable interesting topics about the enterprise market, and this collaboration makes us all a little better. What is also rather nice about the whole experience is that while we all could count several pre-existing contacts from the entire group, the fact is that this has been a really great way for me to network with people I did not previously know and I am better for it.

As early as late last year there were several ideas floated independently about establishing a “tech.memeorandum for enterprise” but when we went to the various groups who do this we were told that the relatively small group of bloggers and the limited crosslinking made it such that it just wouldn’t work the way we wanted. Personally, I think that this has more to do with the fact that the enterprise market is a little more walled off than the consumer side and quite honestly, these companies and the commentary about them is probably less interesting to the broader market. Nonetheless, the requests for “digg for the enterprise” kept coming and this confirmed my belief that in a tech news cycle dominated by consumer internet companies and early stage startups that there is a neglected niche that we could build a presence in.

For the last month we have been contributing articles and comments to a site that is very much like Digg for the enterprise. Crispynews is a service that enables anyone to create a digg-like service with whatever focus they want. Simply called Enterprise Software News and Commentary, the news site has exceeded my expectations in a couple of ways and come up short in a few others. First and foremost, it is important to know that this is not a meta-blog that captures only the posts that the Irregulars are writing; what this is is a service that we have been contributing links to other people’s articles and then commenting on them.

Like Digg, there is a rating function where people can vote on articles and promote them, and there is a function that tracks the articles you are commenting on. The UI is pretty rudimentary and that’s probably a reflection of the fact that Crispynews is itself a pretty early stage startup. I would love the ability to have URL redirection built in, as well as the ability to have multiple categories capability, but in time I am confident these things will be developed. Right now, the service works quite well and is free of malfunctions, and on top of that has pretty good performance.

I believe that this news service has some significant potential with regard to capturing news and commentary specifically about enterprise software. Please check it out and contribute.

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Truth in Advertising, Part 183.2b

Note: This post is the one I wrote a couple of weeks ago and then realized I was subject to quiet period. In light of our earnings announcement last week it would be an omission on my part to not deal with that subject. Honestly, I have not had a chance to go over all the detail but what I can say is that based on the facts that I have we just aren’t losing to Oracle any more or less than we historically have, and certainly not to the degree that Oracle would have everyone believe. We posted license growth of 8% and whatever Henning and Werner said on the call is what I would echo, with the added comment that we put up a really good Q1 (historically our weak quarter) so it doesn’t surprise me that Q2 came in soft (think pipeline). One other comment is that analysts are looking at license growth as a proxy or leading indicator, and in the market we are in I am not so sure that license growth alone is that informative anymore… but that’s probably a whole new post and I need to think it through a little more first. Anyway, what follows is the post I wrote verbatim, I didn’t edit it at all from what I originally wrote and then saved rather than published.

I need to focus on some SAP v. Oracle business today, click on through if you are not interested in that. As part of their Q4 announcement, the fellas in Redwood Shores made some statements about beating SAP 585 times in the last fiscal year. At first blush we were like WTF because that just can’t be possible, so we dug into it. As you can imagine we do our own internal win/loss and market share analysis on an ongoing basis, but in the interests of being intellectually honest about it we have to ask the question about how accurate our internal polling really is. I think we shooting it, the analysis that is, pretty straight with a slight lean to favorable to us… partly because it’s difficult to get accurate data on losses as sale executives would rather bury the bodies than talk about them.

Having said all that, we took a look at our competitive data and concluded that it is mathematically impossible for Oracle to have 585 actual wins against SAP in their last fiscal year. The simplest argument I can make is that we had to go back 6 quarters to identify 585 competitive deals against Oracle, and I don’t think it would shock you to learn that we certainly don’t lose to them 100% of the time.

Once we felt comfortable on our win/loss data we had to wonder what the hell Oracle is claiming. The only answer I can give is that Oracle is claiming every win for them in the last year as a win against SAP on the basis of the market being a duopoly and if they didn’t get the deal then we would have. This is pretty thin, IMO, because there are a few other competitors in enterprise software and a large number of deals that either vendor signs in any given time period are “roll-ups” where existing license are being consolidated under a new deal, meaning Oracle is presumably claiming non-competitive roll-up deals as wins against SAP.

I thought I would try something a little different to not only debunk this Oracle claim, but also name names and details. This is not something you are likely to get anywhere else and I had to do some serious thinking about whether or not to do this because we don’t generally talk about win/loss data in public, but I think the value of having transparency here outweighs the risks, and I cleared it with my boss so I have my ass covered.

What follows (click on the “continue reading” link) is the contents of an email from our EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) region about the 585 win claim (I have similar data from North America, but this email was really well written from the standpoint of consolidating a lot of information into a no-bullshit form). I think what you will see is that not only is their claim of 585 wins dubious at best, but it’s outright fraudulent at worst and in the end their own chest beating exposes the weaknesses that Oracle has in actual sales competition with SAP. Indeed, many of the wins that Oracle claims are actually losses… and these were the ones they talked about!

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EnterpriseTalk with Vishal Sikka, SAP’s Chief Software Architect

While I was on vacation last week, PodTech put up a podcast with Vishal Sikka that we did a while back. I was at the table when John was talking with Vishal and it really was a fascinating conversation. Vishal is, as many of you no doubt already know, the Chief Software Architect for SAP and he is based here in Palo Alto (although I truly believe that after doing this for the last couple of years his citizenship may in fact be from Lufthansa). The thing I like about Vishal is that he is not a longtime SAP employee (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing) and he is disarmingly candid and objective… when he speaks he is not just repeating talking points somebody else prepared, he is speaking from what he believes.

The reason why I did these podcasts with PodTech (and more are coming) is to bring some attention to the executives we have who are not on our Executive Board. You get enough quotes and soundbites from Shai and Leo, how about hearing from people like Vishal and Richard Campione, Nimish Mehta, Dennis Moore, Jim McMurray, Bob Stutz, Doug Merritt and so on. People like Vishal have tremendous influence within SAP but often don’t have the industry profile that executives in other companies enjoy. Part of it is no doubt the insular nature of our culture, but the larger culprit is the impression that media and industry commentators have that anything worth watching at SAP is happening in Germany. Not the case.

UPDATE: In the comment below Thomas is spot on right. In my post vacation haze I was very remiss in suggesting that these podcasts are focused on SAP people in Palo Alto. The fact is that SAP has a very deep talent pool that spans the entire globe. While I featured a first podcast and made reference to people in Palo Alto (although Jim McMurray is based in Atlanta and isn’t part of Labs), the fact is that it is my intention to tap into our leadership team globally for these podcasts. My apologies to any of my colleagues in Germany who were offended by my post.

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