For some time now there has been unrealistic talk about software-as-a-service companies taking over from enterprise software companies. Twenty years ago there was much the same talk about Intel-based servers taking over from mainframes when what really occurred was that mainframes continued to live alongside lower-cost servers, and continue to do so right up to this very day. Mainframes became the goalkeepers of the eneterprise while commodity servers became a back line and midfield.
Today, NetSuite said it is releasing an update to its OneWorld service that integrates with SAP by using web services to roll up data loaded into NetSuite into an SAP back-end. This is pure realpolitik: few companies are in a position to rip out SAP or other mature ERP systems in favour of a SaaS alternative but they might well be missing the flexiblity of a third-party host. The Walldorf roots are too deep and the tendrils too complex but there may be virtue in a combination of providers.
Says NetSuite services director Toby Davidson: “SaaS is beginning to come of age and some of the larger enterprise companies are looking at it as a way to bring lines and versions up to speed more quickly than they could with rigid enterprise-style applications.”
So, in other words, keep SAP as your goalkeeper, even if you’re changing the forward line.