Moving out from SAP


After a year that saw business process modeling (BPM) software vendor IDS Scheer, long known as an SAP AG partner, broaden its horizons through a partnership with rival Oracle Corp., company executives say the firm is well positioned to ride the trend of business needs trumping technology needs.

Last month at the annual user conference of the German BPM vendor’s U.S. subsidiary, IDS Scheer North America, in Amelia Island, Fla., IDS Scheer AG president and CEO Thomas Volk said business needs have been becoming more important than technology needs when it comes to business platform implementations, and he sees IDS Scheer’s offerings as being well positioned to capitalize on that trend.

“The investments in IT are being decided more and more by the business people, for business reasons,” said Volk. “The business people are becoming more and more involved with the modeling decision.”

IDS Scheer, through its ARIS platform, offers a series of products that help companies to understand and model their business processes. The vendor sees business process modeling as a necessary step before implementing an ERP solution from an SAP or an Oracle.

A long time partner with SAP, which also offers ARIS through its own sales channel and as an integrated part of its own platform, IDS Scheer also inked an agreement last year that saw Oracle adopt ARIS as part of that company’s Fusion middleware.

Less technically integrated relationships have been established with other vendors, including Tibco, IBM, Microsoft, BEA and Fujitsu.

Jason Mausberg, managing director, IDS Scheer Canada, said there are advantages to using a modeling platform like ARIS that supports a range of ERP platforms, and which isn’t tied to any one vendor. While a vendor-specific tool would only offer insight into the business processes running under that vendor’s platform, a vendor-agnostic tool such as ARIS offers a more complete, enterprise-wide view, he said — especially since many companies are running multi-vendor environments.

“Oracle and SAP are utilized by the same customers in quite a few instances,” said Mausberg. “It’s not a fight for domination by one; they both exist within the same worlds, and the better they can work together in those situations the better for both companies as well.”

Curtis Gittens, senior research analyst with London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research Group, said he had some initial misgivings about IDS Scheer’s strategy, given their close ties with SAP, but the company’s ability to sign strategic partnerships with a range of vendors sets it up well for future growth.

“Those are some of the main movers and shakers in SOA,” said Gittens. “It bodes well for them.”

While the current strategy for the company appears to be organic growth, Gittens said the vendor is in an interesting space: Large enough so that a viable business exists, but not too large to be swallowed by a bigger player.

It makes IDS Scheer a potential acquisition target, said Gittens.

“You’ll probably hear talk about it within the next 18 months,” said Gittens.

“Not that they can’t survive on their own — they very well can — but if they prove successful and are able to execute on their market it makes sense for a large company like an EMC or an IBM that is trailing them and looking for that kind of functionality to buy an IDS Scheer.”

While IDS Scheer has long been talked of as a potential acquisition target, Mausberg said the focus remains on growing the company organically through its partner strategy.

With major vendors like SAP and Oracle choosing to partner with IDS Scheer rather than develop a BPM capability through internal development or acquisition, Mausberg added the two major players have made their choice, at least for the foreseeable future.

“Other software companies may decide to go that route; that possibility exists,” said Mausberg.

“But we’ve got a clear enough market lead at the moment that we’re attractive enough to partner with for all the major vendors, so I don’t think it’s a thought on their horizon for the next few years anyway.”

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