Crystal scores major deal with SAP

SAP will soon start selling a new release its data warehousing product with an integrated version of Crystal Reports, from Crystal Decisions.

NEW YORK -- Crystal Decisions has scored its most significant reseller deal yet, as SAP will soon start selling

a new release of its data warehousing product containing an integrated version of Crystal Reports.

The product will enable users to choose up to 500 predefined reports from a pool of thousands, and deploy them using a limited version of the Crystal Enterprise Web-based information infrastructure tool.

Beyond that, the pair has also entered an agreement for both companies to sell additional licenses to the full version of Crystal Enterprise and to Reports Designer, which enables companies to create their own reports.

The two companies had been engaged in joint development work for the past 18 months or so, which led to the 3.0 release of SAP's Business Intelligence Warehouse. Like SAP's portal offering, SAP BW is sold not only in conjunction with the company's core applications, such as financial and human resources ones, but also as a horizontal application for use with third-party software.

It will be a while before either company sees significant revenue from this four-year agreement, however. Although one early customer already has version 3.0, and a couple of others will follow in the coming months, general availability of 3.0 won't occur until the second quarter of 2002.

Central to offering a warehouse -- a repository for data created by numerous applications -- is a need to have some solid reporting tools. Until now SAP has had a two-pronged approach: using the tools it has developed itself as well as relying on tie-ins with third-party tools from the likes of Business Objects and Cognos.

Mark Sochan, who, as vice president of business development for SAP Portals, negotiated this deal for the company, says those tie-ins relied more on the customer to do the work and attained nothing like the integration with Crystal. This deal enables SAP and the reports to share the same security and distribution model, which should make distribution of the reports more simple across large companies with employees having numerous levels of access control and so on.

The available reports include those that are specifically designed to meet requirements of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as numerous reports tailored to SAP financial, customer relationship management and supply chain management products. And as the451 said earlier, SAP is hoping SAP BW, with the credibility that Crystal brings, will encourage others to further view the company as a provider of a central repository.

Tim Lang, director of strategic alliances at Crystal, said there are about 7 million Crystal Reports customers, 2 million Enterprise users and about 10 million SAP customers. He acknowledges that there is obviously a lot of overlap, given that both companies are targeting the top end of the market, but he says that many of those SAP customers may use only a part of SAP and not use Crystal at all. Conversely, many of Crystal's customers are not using its products in conjunction with SAP.

But without denying the importance of this deal for SAP, it is obviously more significant to the much smaller, privately held Crystal, which used to be known as Seagate Software. Lang said it is as important for expanding Crystal's reach across enterprises as Visual Basic was for its Crystal Reports desktop reporting tool.

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