SAP To Acquire Business Objects

Marking perhaps one of the most significant business intelligence (BI) acquisitions to date, SAP plans to buy Business Objects, the largest supplier of BI software, for $6.7 billion.

The companies announced the deal Sunday night, in which Paris-based Business Objects will operate as a standalone business unit of SAP. If a larger bidder doesn’t emerge and the deal goes through, SAP will integrate its NetWeaver BI platform (formerly known as the SAP Business Warehouse) with Business Objects’ BI platform.

SAP said Business Objects will continue to support its other software platforms. It remains to be seen how Business Objects' customers and developers will be affected.

“We will see the industry’s most comprehensive portfolio of business performance and optimization solutions in the market and we will offer these for companies of all sizes in all geographies and over time for industries,” said Henning Kagermann, CEO of SAP, speaking from a press conference in Frankfurt, which was Webcast on Monday.

The Business Objects platform will gain SAP’s master data management, in-memory analytics, governance, risk and compliance management, said John Schwartz, Business Objects' CEO, also speaking at today’s press conference.

“We instantly [will] have access to the integration of the Business Warehouse, which is the largest business warehouse in the market with our analytics and our reporting capabilities,” Schwartz said.

NetWeaver BI has never compared favorably to competitive BI platforms, wrote Forrester analyst Boris Evelson in a blog posting. The acquisition of Business Objects, he added, gives SAP a “best of breed set of BI tools with full BI stack capabilities, everything from data integration tools like ETL and data quality to reporting, OLAP, dashboards, text analytics and many others.”

The deal comes just months after arch-rival Oracle acquired Hyperion and a year after Microsoft bought ProClarity. Microsoft last month released its new PerformancePoint Server 2007, a performance management software that integrates with SQL Server Analysis Services.

For its part, Business Objects has its own hooks into Microsoft’s software and the .NET environment. Last year, Business Objects integrated its Crystal Xcelsius Workgroup data visualization solution with SQL Server Reporting Services. Business Objects has various tools that integrate either Crystal Reports and BusinessObjects XI BI platform with SharePoint Portal Server, Office, Dynamics and SQL Server Analysis Services. Business Objects also offers hooks to Microsoft’s flagship development environment, Visual Studio.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of and news editor of Visual Studio Magazine.