SAP's long-awaited expansion into the data warehouse space will be marred by interoperability problems and platform restrictions.
The first offering of SAP's Business Information Warehouse (BW), which will go on general release at the end of this month, will only run on NT and has no data extraction capability outside SAP applications without third-party tools.
These limitations seriously impair the value of the software, according to analysts. "It's a good-value way of getting information out of your SAP environment and it stops there," said Rob Hailstone, chief analyst at Bloor Research Group. When users try to expand BW's functions, they will hit barriers, he said.
Users with a heterogeneous application environment, including products from Peoplesoft or Oracle, would not find a truly integrated data warehouse in BW, Hailstone added. Real data warehouses run on Unix, he said.
However, the demand is not there for a Unix version of BW, argued Mike Ellis, head of technology at SAP UK.
Ellis admitted no first edition of any product is perfect, claiming that rivals would be equally unlikely to make interoperable extraction tools on a first release.
Established players in the business intelligence world, SAS Institute, Platinum and Arbor, told PC Week that they have nothing to fear from the SAP product itself, but feared that customers could be lulled into SAP's "panacea for all business requirements" argument.
They pointed out that it had taken competitors like Oracle and Arbor 10 to 12 years to perfect their Relative OLAP technology and said it is unlikely that SAP will get it right first time.
Jennifer Major, data warehousing product manager at SAS Institute, said that interoperability problems restricted the market for BW to customers that had wall-to-wall SAP, which she claimed is not common.
In the past SAP has spurned several advances from SAS Institute, which wanted to be its default data warehousing partner.
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