SAP is blocking rivals from creating products that compete with its own data warehousing product, say some industry analysts.
The analysts say SAP has failed to simplify an extremely complex application program interface (API) within its flagship R/3 enterprise resource planning software.
The interface makes it very difficult for rival companies to write data warehouse products that can extract data from R/3. Even if other vendors can overcome the difficulty, SAP will often refuse to certify or approve their software for use with R/3.
Other parts of the API for R/3 have been simplified in the last three years. SAP has also developed an API which allows data from rival ERP systems to be exported to SAP's data warehouse software Business Information Warehouse (BW).
By refusing to open the whole of its platform, SAP is effectively locking R/3 users into a SAP environment, according to Mike Thompson, research manager at analyst company Butler Group.
"It's obvious why SAP is doing this. It's because it wants people to use its own tools and lock users into SAP," he said.
R/3 users are being affected by the strategy: "SAP's approach leads to less choice and higher implementation costs for users," said Thompson. "Any company that tries to lock users into systems isn't really addressing the requirements of modern business."
Mike Norman, principal analyst at researcher Makespan, agreed that SAP's actions are not helping users.
"What users want is not necessarily what SAP wants to do. It's clear that creating an open API is not high on SAP's list of development priorities," he said.
Other analysts have also criticised SAP over its data warehousing interfaces. Nigel Pendse, author of the Olap Report, recommended that users stay clear of BW.
"No doubt SAP will have some sales success with BW, particularly by selling into large accounts. But I don't think that too many of those will be viewed as successes by the users," he said.
Nigel Ford, product marketing manager for complementary software at SAP, said: "SAP hasn't deliberately locked users out. But for obvious reasons we want to make it easier for people to use BW."
For further stories see 6 May issue of Computing
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