SAP Admits Wrong Doing
October 31, 2010
I thought the admission of guilt was a feature of TV shows. Right before the end of the Perry Mason Show, the bad guy or gal would stand up and say, “I did it.” Life is different in SAP land. “SAP Admitting Infringement In Oracle Case”, if accurate, asserts that SAP is saying “I did it” before the trial begins. What a bummer for LA screenwriters. For me, this was the passage that stuck:
In a shocking last-minute move, SAP has admitted contributory liability in a court filing posted Thursday in the case Oracle has brought against it for copyright infringement involving its now-defunct TomorrowNow acquisition. Earlier this year, SAP admitted only vicarious liability, meaning it admitted wrongdoing on TomorrowNow’s part, but not its own, claiming TomorrowNow’s illegal practices didn’t occur with SAP’s knowledge or involvement, as Oracle had claimed and upon which it had based hefty damage request.
Larry Ellison was apparently right. The IBM-like SAP played fast and loose with Oracle’s intellectual diamonds. End of story. I am not sure the money is important, although money is usually a good thing to get via a legal matter. The money is not as good as being able to say, “SAP took our goodies.”
I think SAP is a company that provides an early warning indicator of how traditional software companies will cope with the present economic environment. For example, SAP faces some push back about the complexity, time, and cost of implementing some of its software. Search systems like TREX illustrate how easy it is to underestimate the challenges of finding information and the precarious nature of in house retrieval. SAP now provides some insight into how executives can make tactical decisions that backfire and help whittle away at the foundation of IBM type software methods. In short, the SAP story underscores some of the weaknesses in the basic approach of IBM type vendors.
Don’t get me wrong. IBM type vendors ruled the roost for decades. Now some of the tactical methods are no longer hidden behind the traditional procurement processes. The Web has made some actions easier to track and scope.
My question is, “Which IBM type vendor is next in the penalty box?” SAP is or was a paragon. What skeletons are ready to tumble from the closets of other IBM type software vendors? When the bones start piling up, how will authorities cope with the disorder? Will open source vendors surge in power like Twilight vampires after a guzzle?
Open source software in general and open source search in particular is not perfect. But the idea of depending on a community, not a single firm, offers an alternative to the IBM type of software vendor. But consultants will be consultants, of course. When the traditional IBM type of software buyers get cold feet, the IBM type of company has to generate revenues. Short cuts may become more common. Open source software could benefit because it is an alternative.
One concern I have is that Oracle may get a rush of adrenaline from the SAP legal maneuver. Can this SAP action spur Oracle to increase the heat on Google? Will Oracle find a way to keep Hewlett Packard in the spot light? When lawyers, not technologists, influence technology, real life can be more surprising than a fictional confection on television.
SAP? Worth monitoring.
Stephen E Arnold, October 31, 2010