SAP steps up commitment to IBM's DB2 database

SAP and IBM are expanding their global partnership in the area of IBM's DB2 database, the companies said yesterday.

The move is designed to give customers that want to combine SAP's new Internet products with DB2 more choices of which platforms they use.

SAP also announced that it will use DB2 as its database for its own internal development and production systems, the companies said.

IBM will also establish a dedicated sales team for the combined and DB2 effort, said Jim Kelly, vice president for marketing in IBM's data management solutions division in an interview with IDG News Service on Monday ahead of the announcement.

With the moves, SAP is trying to move new customers away from Oracle to IBM as the database of choice to underlie its products. Although Oracle is also SAP's arch-rival in the ERP marketplace, the large majority of SAP's customers use Oracle's database with SAP's core enterprise resource planning software, R/3.

DB2 is a better choice of database than Oracle, because it can be used with the greatest variety of platforms, Stefan Rossius, director of SAP's IBM international competence centre in Germany and IBM's Kelly, said in the joint interview.

"DB2 is the platform-independent solution for SAP. It is the only database that supports all of the different SAP architectures," Rossius said.

DB2 can be used with everything from a Palm handheld device to an IBM mainframe such as the S/390, Kelly said. Other hardware and software platforms on which both the combined DB2 and SAP products can run include Windows 2000, Sun Microsystems, Linux, Windows NT and IBM's RS/6000 and AS/400.

Flexibility is also important as many companies are choosing a variety of platforms for electronic commerce, Rossius said. "With e-business, there is a move away from Windows NT. Not everything can be fixed with NT," he said.

There are some environments on which the database is not yet available with SAP products, including HP-Unix and Compaq's Tru-64, but the companies are in discussions to makes these available, he said.

The executives stressed, however, that the agreement with DB2 is not an exclusive one, nor does it affect SAP customers already using different database platforms. There are ways for them to migrate to DB2 if they choose, Rossius said.

New products such as SAP's Workplace server, Business-to-Business Procurement, Customer Relationship Management, Strategic Enterprise Management and Knowledge Management will become available on DB2 platforms starting this month, the executives said.

SAP's data warehouse, called Business Information Warehouse, also will benefit from DB2's ability to support more than one database at the same time, according to Rossius. products are the first in SAP's stable of offerings to require more than one database, Rossius said.

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