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IBM-Ascential deal could result in new SAP ETL partner

IBM's plans to acquire Ascential Software Corp. is good news for SAP customers on the IBM platform, as many ETL components, currently in Ascential, will be embedded within the IBM DB2 engine and shared with its WebSphere platform.

Adding Ascential's ETL capabilities in the IBM WebSphere platform will definitely result in increased competition with SAP's NetWeaver offering.
Naeem Hashmi,
chief technology officerInformation Frameworks

Westboro, Mass.-based Ascential has had a long relationship with SAP customers. The software vendor is an authorized reseller and Ascential's DataStage ETL software has been part of the mySAP business intelligence framework.

Once the deal is complete, SAP/IBM customers will have the ability to exploit Ascential's fast ETL, DataQuality and data movement capabilities seamlessly across all SAP and non-SAP applications running on the IBM platform.

But where does this leave the original Ascential-SAP OEM relationship? It is too early to tell but SAP will likely drop its relationship with Ascential and develop ties with Informatica Corp.

SAP tends to offer niche technologies for its customers by leveraging partnerships with vendors that do not have competitive interests. Adding Ascential's ETL capabilities in the IBM WebSphere platform will definitely result in increased competition with SAP's NetWeaver offering.

Ascential will likely lose OEM preference with SAP. The vendor does offer other information integration capabilities, but components in IBM Websphere may conflict with SAP XI and other components that are already in the NetWeaver platform needed for enterprise information integration.

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SAP now has three options. First, it could leave the OEM relationship with Ascential under the Big Blue umbrella. I don't think this approach will go well with SAP customers currently on a non-IBM platform. Second, SAP could build its own ETL capability, but I don't think SAP would invest in building that capability from scratch.

The third and more likely scenario is that SAP partners with other ETL vendors, such as Informatica, SAS and Oracle. Since SAS and Oracle compete directly against SAP in the business intelligence and analytics space, they are not the likeliest of candidates. The only viable option here is that SAP reignites its relationship with Informatica, the only remaining independent ETL vendor.

Naeem Hashmi, chief technology officer of Information Frameworks, is an expert in the enterprise resource planning business intelligence industry and a pioneer in ERP data warehousing. Contact Hashmi at

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