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Oracle vs SAP? How the Hardware Giant Might Be Losing Ground in Analytics and Big Data

Oracle vs SAP? How the Hardware Giant Might Be Losing Ground in Analytics and Big Data

In the battle between hardware and software, it seems like hardware solutions are slowly losing out to SaaS and cloud solutions. Big data leaders like Google, Amazon, etc. are providing low-cost machines that run on open source software, which is making database implementations for small and medium size businesses easier and cheaper than ever.

Though there’s still plenty of room for large-scale hardware installations in the business world, when companies start turning towards database and analytics solutions that are far more affordable, where does that leave a giant hardware provider like Oracle vs SAP, which is offering smaller, lower cost solutions?

Oracle vs SAP as Database Providers

In the past few months, SAP has been positioning itself as a database provider in addition to its ERP software offerings, which puts it in direct contention with Oracle. SAP’s HANA in-memory platform is geared specifically towards small and medium sized enterprises, a demographic that most likely finds Oracle’s half a million to multi-million dollar installations far too expensive.  Of course, SAP and Oracle are no strangers to conflict with each other, so it’s no surprise that SAP is continuing to go after Oracle’s weaknesses, which are high-costs and massive hardware installations.

Even with additional competition from SAP, Oracle is still the leader since the majority of companies depend on Oracle for their database needs, and SAP itself was one of them not too long ago. However, while Oracle has dominated the relational database sphere, increasing need for big data solutions could very well put Oracle at a disadvantage. With its hardware sales slowing down, it’s definitely within the realm of possibility that Oracle competitors like SAP could swoop in and turn the tables on the hardware giant.

Could Oracle Fall Behind in the Cloud?

Another issue that Oracle will no doubt face in the coming months is how best to transition to cloud-based services. When it comes to cloud computing, Oracle is still treating it like a traditional infrastructure when it comes to pricing. While the company obviously has a wide variety of cloud software and computing solutions, it still insists on charging by license rather than metering, which is not a model that can compete with the likes of Amazon. Whether that means SAP can get the drop on Oracle or not remains to be seen; but generally speaking, lower prices tend to turn heads.

Oracle vs SAP Just Hype?

On the other hand, Doug Henschen over at InformationWeek contends that the Oracle vs SAP discussion is mostly hype on the part of SAP. While SAP has made a good show of claiming that HANA is poised to take over a decent share of the database market, Oracle’s executive VP Thomas Kurian came back today with claims that HANA would cost more than Exalytics and doesn’t even support SQL (which Henschen notes is not true).

With so many accusations flying back and forth, but little hard data to go on, what is a would-be buyer supposed to think? What do you think of the “battle” between Oracle and SAP? Is it all hype, or does the hardware giant have something to worry about?

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Amanda Andonian

Oracle vs SAP? How the Hardware Giant Might Be Losing Ground in Analytics and Big Data
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Amanda is a former member of the marketing team. She helped manage the Community at and wrote articles and reviews about enterprise and SMB software and trends in the business software industry. She has 5+ years of experience ...
  • Keean Persaud

    This article raises several areas of how the two software vendors compete.   Areas of analytics, database, cloud, target markets and hardware are mentioned as discussion points. 


    Oracle sells hardware to round out their solution profile; their core business is software and database applications.  While cost is an issue for these large systems their product lines cater to very different target markets and many target markets that overlap.


    In terms of analytics, essentially you will be comparing Hyperion to Business Objects.  Each analytics suite is sold as individual or as part of their larger ERP solutions which are incorporated into the ERP as the BI/EPM/CPM component.  Both are comprehensive and very capable as to what they offer.


    In terms of database, SAP can use either SQL or Oracle, whereas Oracle is its own database on which their applications are based around. The main difference here is the mention of HANA (SAP’s in-memory database).  This may be a differentiator for small to medium enterprises as the hardware infrastructure required is less severe than the old way of heavy hardware and heavy applications running on them.  The reduced footprint (both hardware and software) and the processing power offered by HANA may be difficult for Oracle to compete with now.  We have seen some very impressive processing MRP benchmark tests initially but are awaiting more results.


    In terms of cloud, they have very different strategies.  SAP offers several cloud ready options such as Business One, ByDesign and has the option of hybrid cloud implementations including private clouds.  Conversely, Oracle essentially uses a legacy based type of pricing which can be confusing to consumers.  Its cloud offerings are based on the old way of software pricing.  Oracle has Fusion and their several approaches of implementation including their version of hybrid cloud. 


    Both are excellent software solutions but have different approaches to the application side.  It really depends on what strategically your company is trying to accomplish and which software may fit your current infrastructure needs and technology platform best.  Functionality wise they are pretty much equal at the core modules, the differentiators may be more within specific industries and verticals for separation of solutions as to which is the best fit.  There are many aspects in which these companies compete and mentioned here are a few areas to begin the conversation

    • Amanda A.

      I think that’s actually part of the problem of trying to compare the two, Keean. Depending on what a company is actually looking for, how can they even begin to compare Oracle and SAP? For one business, SAP might be the obvious choice; but for another company, they might be better off with Oracle.

      In the end, I suppose all the talk on both sides is only meant to keep people talking about Oracle and SAP, which is exactly what we’re doing!