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SAP and Commerce One defy the partnership odds

Against the odds of being in a corporate partnership, Commerce One Inc. and SAP Markets Inc., the exchange subsidiary of SAP AG, delivered the next release of their joint software for enterprise, industrial and regional e-marketplaces, MarketSet 2.0 and Enterprise Buyer 2.0. Analysts have waxed positive about the new releases and the fact that, despite being jointly produced by two companies, the products were delivered on time.

"The history of these partnerships between two companies, where they jointly work on products, has not been good in the industry," said Shawn Willett, principal analyst at Current Analysis. Conflicting priorities and general corporate bureaucracy have historically stalled the release of jointly produced products, he said. "To (Commerce One's and SAP's) credit, they seem to have made it work... to their credit, they stuck to their schedules."

"We at AMR look for signs when (partnership) announcements are made," said Dave Boulanger, research director, enterprise management strategies group at AMR Research. This includes evidence that work is being done, such as development teams and plans for the product, he said.

"We visited Commerce One twice last year and were struck by the number of people who dedicated their full time to the project," Boulanger said. "We feel comfortable that the development was occurring."

Additionally, the products shipped exactly when the companies said they would, he added.

Initially, AMR thought that the partnership between SAP and Commerce One might be like that of the partnerships between i2 Technologies and Ariba, Boulanger said. After looking at SAP's past partnerships, which have been very involved, AMR concluded that this partnership was different, he said.

Current Analysis and AMR both said that MarketSet and Enterprise Buyer are comparable with other offerings on the market today, although Current Analysis has a slightly more optimistic view.

"They've got a lot more than anybody else has," Willett said. "i2 has a supply chain application, and that's going to be their biggest competitor."

Yet Commerce One and SAP's offering has more functionality, he added.

Enterprise Buyer stacks up favorably against products from Ariba and RightWorks, which was bought by i2, AMR's Boulanger said. "Enterprise Buyer is very good in (the indirect procurement) area," he said. "No one is really attacking direct materials purchasing today... because of content management," he added, noting that the content management side differs by industry and customers are just starting to show interest.

"On the MarketSet arena, in terms of commerce platforms, BEA, ATG and Atlas Commerce... are companies that all sell commerce platforms that can provide public and private marketplace technology," Boulanger said. MarketSet's future is up in the air, he said, and early adopters will provide a better picture of the software's functionality. FOR MORE INFORMATION

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