TomorrowNow Acquisition Gives SAP Leverage

Hoping to gain traction with PeopleSoft customers unnerved by Oracle’s recent takeover, SAP has acquired TomorrowNow, a leading PeopleSoft support and maintenance vendor.

With the acquisition of Bryant, Texas-based TomorrowNow, SAP is working to insinuate itself into the enterprise software upgrade process in companies where both Oracle and SAP solutions could be viable options.

SAP plans to attract customers away from Oracle with a program built on TomorrowNow’s service and support for PeopleSoft/JD Edwards applications. The program offers a “safe passage away from the uncertainties” that some enterprises may be feeling in the wake of the recent Oracle acquisition of PeopleSoft.

Exploiting Opportunity

SAP is offering to support and maintain current versions of PeopleSoft/JDE solutions running in SAP shops “so you can plan your migration strategy — at your own pace,” the company said in a letter posted on its Web site. The program comes with a license upgrade to mySAP ERP. About 2,000 customers run a combination of SAP and PeopleSoft or JD Edwards platforms.

In announcing the move, SAP is attempting to exploit the opening created by Oracle’s hostile, hotly-contested acquisition of PeopleSoft, which closed earlier this month.

Oracle has done what it can to reassure restive PeopleSoft customers. Among other things, Oracle has vowed this week to support PeopleSoft product lines until 2013 and release PeopleSoft Enterprise 9.0. Ellison also announced “Project Fusion,” a development effort which will combine key features and functions of Oracle’s applications with those of PeopleSoft and JD Edwards.

Assuring Customers

In another attempt to boost confidence among PeopleSoft owners, Oracle has also promised to keep 90 percent of PeopleSoft’s existing development team on board.

Bolstered by these actions, CEO Larry Ellison has predicted that his company will retain at least 95 percent of PeopleSoft/JD Edwards’s 12,750 customers.

Still, widespread complaints among PeopleSoft’s customer base seem to have convinced SAP otherwise.

“It is clear that companies running PeopleSoft and JDE solutions have serious concerns about the future of those software packages and how they will be supported,” said Bill McDermott, president and CEO of SAP America Inc.

Small Step

Will the move give SAP a quick boost in market share? It’s hard to tell, analysts say. SAP’s quick response to the PeopleSoft buyout may help, but that’s not enough to change the marketplace dramatically by itself, says Denis Pombriant of Beagle Research.

“I think it’s shrewd of SAP to enter the competition now, before Oracle has had a great opportunity to influence the new customers,” Pombriant says. “But it would be a surprise if you see lots of people leaving Oracle, because many companies who are PeopleSoft customers are already running Oracle databases. It’s really a jump ball at this point.”

If SAP does realize a bump in market share, it may have more to do with the difference Oracle and SAP product specs then support issues. While Project Fusion may keep some enterprise customers on board — those willing to stick with their existing PeopleSoft and JD Edwards applications while they wait for a more-integrated product — it may not come quickly enough to slow SAP’s growing momentum.

“A lot of companies are probably thinking it’s a no-brainer to run SAP now,” says Martin Schneider, analyst for enterprise software with The 451 Group. “While it will be a long time before Oracle has a combined PeopleSoft and Oracle combined suite, SAP already has [an integrated suite of its own].”

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