Jury Orders SAP to Pay Oracle $1.3 Billion: A Discovery Channel Special?

Posted on November 24, 2010


This past Sunday on Discovery Channel the first in a series of shows on dinosaurs aired much to the delight of my daughter who, like any child her age, has an active interest (and imagination) regarding these mammoth beasts.

In the opening segment, the show focused on the day that the cataclysmic chain reaction of a direct meteor strike led to the extinction of the dinosaurs.  It was interesting, especially given how special effects have significantly improved since I was a kid.

That being said I could not help but draw a comparison between Sunday’s show and the announcement that a jury had ordered SAP to pay Oracle a stunning $1.3 billion in copyright infringement damages in that like the Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops doing battle as a world-ending meteor hurtled towards an unsuspecting earth, the giants of the ERP application world are equally oblivious to the calamity of their ongoing existence.

In particular was a scene where two T-Rex overpowered a lone Triceratops and while enjoying the fresh kill the narrator ominously tells the audience that even though there is now enough food to feed the victors for weeks, the prospects for their being around that long is remote.  Of course we know what happened to the dinosaurs.

In a post earlier this week (Analyst’s pessimistic prediction regarding SAP is perhaps the exclamation point to my November 14th post?!), in which the unthinkable a few short years ago was presented in the light of acceptable mainstream thinking, the Oracle victory over what at this point is perhaps the weaker opponent means very little in the larger scheme of things.

Plagued by over-budget initiatives that have usually spanned years and fallen woefully short of expected savings, the big ERP vendor battles will ultimately dissipate  into historic remember when irrelevance, as the market begins to fully embrace the non-consultancy model.  Leveraging the modular adaptability of the more advanced Software-as-a-Service “SaaS” solutions, which can be acquired and implemented within a matter of weeks and in some instances days, at a fraction of the cost of the traditional license/maintenance models that sustained the gluttonous beasts, a new leaner species of vendor will begin to dominate the landscape.  It is in fact already happening with companies such as Rosslyn Analytics and COUPA to name just a few.

So where does that leave SAP and Oracle?  Perhaps, and in much the same way my daughter marvels at the images of the great dinosaurs of the distant past, our children’s children will also view these antiquated ERP-based companies through a similar lens of “wow . . . was software really that cumbersome” astonishment.

In the meantime enjoy the following movie excerpt and see if you can spot Larry Ellison: