Most people don’t necessarily find corporate databases as sexy as, say, giant-screen high-definition televisions or new gaming rigs that glow in the dark and pump cooling fluids through their innards—but those corporate systems are the backbones of what a lot of Internet companies, enterprises, and content providers use to push apps and content to those sexier devices. And today there’s a major shakeup in the corporate database world: Germany’s SAP is buying Sybase in a deal valued at some $5.8 billion. The acquisition—all cash—will be the second largest in SAP’s 40-year history—the biggest owuld be its acquisition of Business Objects back in 2008—and is being seen as a direct challenge to database giant Oracle, which ahs made a habit of expanding its business by acquiring other companies.
SAP has historically pursued a strategy of organically growing its business, rather than acquiring customers and new operations through acquisitions. However, Oracle was one of the first major software firms to expand its business through acquisitions, and over the years has spend more than $40 billion to acquire several dozen companies. SAP’s decision to make a major play for Sybase is a major change in strategy…and comes less than three months after new co-CEOs Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann Sanbe took over the company. SAP’s interest in Sybase stems from mobile business applications that enable mobile devices and smartphone to tie back into corporate systems. California’s Sybase has developed a strong mobile business in the Asia-Pacific region.
“With this transaction, SAP will dramatically expand its addressable market by making available its market-leading solutions to hundreds of millions of mobile users, combining the world’s best business software with the world’s most powerful mobile infrastructure platform,” said SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott, in a statement. “This is a game-changing transaction for SAP and Sybase customers.”
SAP has not announced what it plans to do with Sybase’s database business: it hasn’t really been gaining ground against its competitors and doesn’t necessarily fit into SAP’s model of selling middleware for managing business operations and functions like HR, accounting, inventory management, and manufacturing. SAP apparently plans to augment Sybase’s database systems with SAP’s own in-memory technologies to offer analytical and transactional capabilities…but at the same time, SAP plans to continue supporting leading database vendors.
So the next time you log into an online service, update account details somewhere, check a transaction log at an online retailer or a gaming account, or use a mobile app that taps into a huge vault of information out there in the “cloud” somewhere…think about where those services come from, and the size of the operations behind them.
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