Hoping to gain traction in the DBMS market, SAP and MySQL are planning an extensive update to SAP's database. While the newly named MaxDB may not have a wide fan base yet, some analysts and customers say it has the potential to be a contender.
Last year SAP signed an agreement with open source database software vendor MySQL to help develop and support MaxDB. The new version is due for release at the close of this year.
Development teams from both companies plan to release MaxDB 7.6, which will support 64-bit Linux and HP-UX, said Edwin DeSouza, senior director of product management at MySQL, whose headquarters is in Sweden.
"SAP sees this as very important to reduce the overall TCO of an SAP implementation," DeSouza said. "And SAP is protecting itself also -- by having MaxDB as an alternative to the other vendors out there. The customer can spend most of their dollars on SAP rather than give a whole bunch of it to Oracle or Microsoft or whoever."
MaxDB 7.6 will support IBM's Java-based Eclipse development framework created.
SAP hopes the overhaul to its database will lure future customers from Oracle, a favorite DBMS vendor among many SAP users, said Mike Schiff, vice president of data warehousing and business intelligence at Sterling, Va.-based Current Analysis.
"I think people underestimated the power of SAP's database," Schiff said. "This is a full fledged database that has the features and functionality that other vendors have and people ought to look at it."
Automated monitoring and management features will be a big boost to the database, said Charlie Brann, a SAP administrator at Denver-based nomadic tube system maker Swisslog TransLogic.
Swisslog has been using the SAP database 7.3 for about eight years when it converted to the database from an old legacy system. The database currently supports the company's R/3 4.6c ERP software and holds about 100 GB of data.
"It's a very stable and uncomplicated database, and it serves us well without a lot of interference or administration on my part, but a few more monitoring tools wouldn't hurt," Brann said. "It's been very dependable and solid database for us, so I think it will eventually catch on."
Only about 2,300 customers use the MaxDB as a core DBMS, said SAP spokesman Andrew Kisslo. Boosting the number of installations by adding expertise from MySQL in the open source market will be SAP's strategy, Kisslo said.
"SAP's involvement in MaxDB and MySQL confirms its interest in promoting a low-cost alternative to Oracle's Oracle Database for R/3 and other SAP applications," said J. Paul Kirby, a research director at Boston-based AMR Research Inc.