March 10, 1997 10:00 AM ET

SAP, PeopleSoft mull data warehouse tools
By Jim Kerstetter

  Having long eschewed the database game, SAP AG and PeopleSoft Inc. now are looking to provide their own data warehousing tools.

SAP plans to roll out by year's end the second version of its Open Information Warehouse, which will make the data culled from SAP applications uniform for use in a central repository.

PeopleSoft is forming a data warehousing strategy of its own, said officials in Pleasanton, Calif. The company will decide within two months whether it will work with a database tool vendor for its software or go it alone.

Officials for both companies said they can offer users capabilities that database companies cannot by providing an easier migration from back-end applications to the promised land of a central data repository.

Currently, when a PeopleSoft user attempts to create a data warehouse, he or she has to plow through hundreds of tables that underlie PeopleSoft applications.

It's a time-consuming and expensive process. Once the user hard-codes links to those tables, the company is locked out of future PeopleSoft releases that involve changes in the underlying scheme of tables.

"I think there's some real value in [data warehouse tools], particularly with a system as complex as PeopleSoft's," said Dot Graham, human resources IS manager at Susquehanna Pfaltzgraff Co., in York, Pa.

At the center of SAP's effort will be a Reporting Server that funnels all of the data running in and out of R/3 into a central repository. Release of the software is expected to coincide with the year-end release of R/3 Version 4.0.

Warehousing applications

What users get when warehousing tools come from an application server:

  • Faster data migration to a central repository
  • Less hard coding between the repository and the applications
  • Less vulnerability to changes in underlying tables of applications

Although the German company released its first set of data warehouse migration tools and capabilities more than a year ago, its early efforts were largely ignored. According to SAP executives, the company failed to explain its strategy.

Analysts, however, said SAP failed to provide good tools.

Meanwhile, PeopleSoft, which had to back off from its data warehousing plans last year because it ran out of development time before its most recent release, will detail a new strategy in the coming months.

In fact, PeopleSoft later this year will make a series of database announcements with the development of PeopleSoft 7, including the creation of an API that would make PeopleSoft applications interoperable with any Open Database Connectivity-compliant database tool. PeopleSoft 7 is expected at the end of the year.

Other application vendors are looking down a similar path. Oracle Corp.'s Applications division, which can cull from the giant database side of the company, calls data warehousing integration an essential part of its applications strategy and already boasts of migration tools that take advantage of the company's built-in integration between applications and databases.

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