Oracle moves aggressively to poach SAP Business ByDesign customers

The company is offering to waive one year of subscription fees for those who sign three-year deals, but watch the fine print

Oracle has joined the ranks of ERP (enterprise resource planning) software vendors hoping to capitalize on uncertainty among customers of SAP's Business ByDesign software, offering to waive one year of subscription fees to those who migrate to Oracle's competing products.

"If your growing company needs a secure, proven, and modern business platform -- and the assurance of continued support, maintenance, and innovation -- Oracle ERP Cloud is the answer," according to a company Web page outlining Oracle's offer.

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Customers who sign a three-year deal for Oracle's ERP Cloud software will get the first year at no charge, according to the page.

However, the page also includes a plenty of fine print attached to the deal.

For one thing, the offer can't be applied to managed services, integration services or training.

The three-year terms are also "mandatory and non-cancelable," which could put customers at a disadvantage if the software ended up being a bad fit. "[Customers] cannot opt out at any point in the three-year term, so clauses such as 'termination for convenience' or 'termination in favor' cannot be included with these promotions," the page states.

NetSuite and Kenandy also recently announced migration programs for ByDesign customers.

The marketing flurry follows recent reports that SAP was winding down development of the cloud-based ByDesign. SAP denied this but didn't do itself any favors by releasing a statement saying that ByDesign would "continue to be supported and actively promoted in its current scope," wording that suggested the possibility that there would be no more major upgrades of the product.

Business ByDesign will indeed continue to be updated, according to executive board member Vishal Sikka , who heads all development at SAP. A team will be left in place to support the current version, which runs in an ABAP server, while SAP works to port ByDesign to its HANA in-memory computing platform, he said.

There are about 1,100 ByDesign customers now, although that number falls far short of SAP's original hope of 10,000 by 2010.

"These are sad attempts to capitalize on inaccuracies in the press," SAP spokesman James Dever said of the migration offers. "We'll continue to offer ByDesign and support our customers."

Migration programs are a long-standing staple of the enterprise software business, but it's not clear how successful they tend to be, particularly when targeting products that remain available versus those that have been discontinued.

For example, Oracle's offer to ByDesign customers notes repeatedly that consulting services, at additional cost, may be required in order to make a switch. Those expenses could end up outweighing the benefits provided by a year's reprieve on subscription fees.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com.

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