SAP In Acquisition Mode

by David Needle

Software giant announces purchase of MaXware and Wicom Communications.

SAP announced two significant acquisitions at its SAPPHIRE '07 international customer conference in Vienna, Austria. The one that directly impacts the enterprise software giant's flagship NetWeaver platform is the purchase of MaXware, a privately-held provider of identity management software with about 30 employees.

The other SAP purchase was Wicom Communications, also privately held. Based in Espoo, Finland, Wicom offers an all-IP contact center and enterprise communications software. Wicom is used by 200 contact centers and by what SAP said are "contact-intensive multi-sited enterprises" in 18 countries.

Analysts consider the MaXware deal a good move by SAP  to shore up its offerings in the multi-billion dollar market for identity management software. The segment is being driven by the need for organizations to consolidate how they manage security across disparate applications and systems in an enterprise.

SAP competitors such as Oracle  have made several acquisitions in the ID management space, including Oracle's 2005 purchase of Oblix and Thor Technologies, which helped round out its Identity and Access Management Suite.

"MaXware has useful technology that integrates information from a variety of different sources," David Ferris, senior analyst with Ferris Research, told internetnews.com. "This helps SAP be a central repository for information about users and information from other systems."

SAP said the addition of MaXware complements its business applications and platform, helping customers extend the value of their SAP investments. The new MaXware capabilities in the platform are expected to provide the functionality to centrally manage and provision identity information in SAP and heterogeneous environments.

Also, SAP said its GRC Access Control can deliver business value through its rich capabilities and support of end-to-end compliance and risk management.

In its announcement, SAP notes that improving security around information workers involved in one or more business processes is becoming increasingly important as companies move to the highly distributed environment of enterprise service-oriented architecture (SOA) .

"Security ranks at the top of CIO agendas as they look to further improve security and control access, while lowering the administrative costs associated with managing identities," said Klaus Kreplin, corporate officer and member of the executive council, and head of SAP NetWeaver Technology. "With the addition of MaXware capabilities, SAP will deliver to customers a lean, integrated and proven identity management solution for heterogeneous IT landscapes."

MaXware has corporate headquarters in Trondheim, Norway, with sales subsidiaries in the United States and United Kingdom. SAP did not release terms of either deal other than to note the MaXware deal is expected to close later this month and the Wicom deal was completed on May 7 with product integration already underway.

With the addition of Wicom Communications, SAP said it will be able to offer companies the ability to better integrate communications technologies and business systems. The idea is to connect functions such as customer service, marketing, finance and sales; and making sure that all customer-facing employees wherever they are located have access to the same relevant knowledge and data.

As more employees communicate through multiple channels; including voice, SMS, Web, e-mail and mobile phones, it becomes challenging to synchronize activity across these communication silos. With Wicom Communications, SAP said it plans to deliver a multichannel all-IP, end-to-end contact center solution, integrating communication processes into customer service.

This solution will help customers streamline the integration of disparate hardware and software components while allowing for central management and reporting of dispersed resources and processes.

"Wicom firmly established itself as an innovator in improving the performance and quality of customer service, telesales and daily business interactions for our growing customer base," said Ilkka Kivimaki, CEO, Wicom, in a statement. "Joining SAP opens up our innovation to a larger set of business and development opportunities."

  This article was originally published on Wednesday May 16th 2007
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