SAP acquires Sybase – but why?

Feature Article | May 19, 2010 by Benjamin Blaume

Mit dem Kauf von Sybase setzt SAP auf eine mobile Zukunft (Foto: SAP AG)

With the acquisition SAP bets big on mobile (photo: SAP AG)

While Sybase generates 70% of its revenues with database technologies, analysts see the primary reason for SAP’s purchase of the company in its mobile solutions. These make it possible to display and work with business information on any kind of smartphone. SAP and Sybase have been working together on mobile technology for some time, having recently brought the powerful SAP Business Suite to iPhone. A year ago, Sybase showed off its mobile solutions for BlackBerry and iPhone at the CRM-Expo trade show.

According to the market research experts at Gartner, Sybase is one of the leading providers in the mobile sector. Its middleware solutions enable users to access company data with smartphones running any of the popular mobile operating systems, including iPhone OS, Windows Mobile, Android, and BlackBerry OS. Rather than integrate Sybase’s technologies into the SAP NetWeaver platform, SAP currently plans to continue its practice of tying these products in through SAP Mobile Gateway.

SAP is also hoping to gain a number of benefits with regard to databases. Much like SAP, Sybase has turned its focus to in-memory technologies that keep databases in a server’s main memory, which leads to impressive increases in speed. Hasso Plattner, SAP cofounder and chairman of the company’s Supervisory Board, believes that the future belongs to this technology. Plattner is currently one of the primary forces driving its development.

Following the acquisition, Sybase is to remain an independent unit of the SAP corporate group and operate as “Sybase, an SAP company.” SAP also reports that Sybase CEO John Chen will be offered a seat on the SAP Executive Board. Founded in the United States under the name Systemware in 1984, Sybase generated U.S.$1 billion in annual revenues for the first time in 2007. By 2009, this figure had risen to nearly U.S.$1.2 billion.

The U.S.$5.8 billion acquisition of Sybase represents one of the largest company purchases in SAP’s history, second only to the U.S.$6.8 billion it took to bring Business Objects into the fold in 2007. According to the financial service provider Thomson Reuters, SAP has invested a total of U.S.$13.4 billion in company acquisitions over the past 17 years.

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