SAP, Oracle Alter Release Strategies

FRAMINGHAM (03/17/2000) - SAP AG and Oracle Corp. are both changing their business-application release strategies, in dueling attempts to provide users with more unified software packages.

Executives at SAP said that this spring the German software vendor plans to start synchronizing the releases of new applications, such as its data warehousing, supply-chain planning and business-to-business procurement software.

Previously, those applications were released on separate delivery schedules, which sometimes resulted in technical inconsistencies between the different packages, said Klaus Kreplin, SAP's vice president of data warehousing development.

But SAP now intends to release coordinated upgrades of the applications every six months or so to make the installation process less complicated for users, Kreplin said.

Tighter Integration

Oracle is taking a similar tack by combining its enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management applications into a joint product line, as part of an upgrade that's due out this spring.

Joel Summers, Oracle's vice president of human resources software development, said the company also plans to speed up the way it releases new features by including some in minor software upgrades. Until now, those upgrades have mostly been limited to bug fixes and patches.

David Dobrin, an analyst at Benchmarking Partners Inc. in Cambridge, Mass., said new users stand to benefit if the applications they're buying are more tightly integrated.

But releasing new applications every three to six months can put pressure on a software vendor's quality-control team and make it difficult for existing users to keep up, Dobrin added. "Most users hate frequent releases," he said.

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