SAP has no full-fledged social networking software of its own, but has developed the StreamWork collaboration application. It also has a partnership with enterprise social networking vendor Jive Software, and along with Microsoft created Duet, which links SAP applications to SharePoint.
Salesforce.com's announcement drew a skeptical response from analyst Kelly Craft, a consultant who specializes in collaboration platform implementations.
"In theory, this is really big news for the industry. But a closer look at the details makes this seem like not much more than an effort to drum up integration business for integration partners," Craft wrote in a blog post. "Forgive my cynicism, but I'm hard-pressed to imagine that customer's will get much more than a bare-bones template 'project plan' after a half day review. Seems like another effort where the promise surpasses the practicalities."
Salesforce.com will also have to contend with SAP's own ongoing efforts to ease access to back-end data, such as the River platform, although that effort is aimed at the development of discrete and lightweight business applications rather than a broad social networking strategy.
It remains to be seen whether Salesforce.com rolls out a similar offer for Oracle customers. Such an item would directly clash with Oracle's own Social Network service, which was announced earlier this month and is scheduled to be available sometime next year.
Still, the move makes sense, Forrester Research analyst China Martens said via email. "I guess with SAP still shaping its overall social strategy pillar, Salesforce.com senses a gap to go after. SAP's focus to date has been StreamWork, collaboration specifically tied to decision support and linked to business intelligence, so a different focus from Salesforce.com's Chatter."
The announcement could be "part and parcel of Salesforce.com's push to use Chatter and/or its social enterprise message as the Trojan Horse to get into enterprises it's previously not been able to get into with its CRM or with Force.com," she added. "Once in the door, then the vendor would hope to expand the enterprise's use of its software."
Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com.