SAP's specialty is business applications, such as those used for payroll and managing relationships with customers and suppliers. In recent years, Oracle has spent billions of dollars pushing into that field, though it remains behind SAP.
One of Oracle's biggest coups in its expansion came in 2005 when it closed an $11.1 billion takeover of PeopleSoft, which had fought to remain independent. After Oracle prevailed, PeopleSoft co-founder Dave Duffield left to start Workday, which is expected to pursue an initial public offering of stock this year.
Hamerman believes It would be a good timing for a Workday IPO, given the prices that Oracle and SAP have paid for companies in the same market as Workday. Oracle is paying about six times Taleo's annual revenue while SAP is buying SuccessFactors for about 10 times its annual revenue.
The feud between Oracle and SAP has gotten personal. Oracle won a $1.3 billion jury verdict against SAP in 2010 over the widespread theft by a now-shuttered SAP subsidiary of documents from password-protected Oracle customer websites. Oracle alleged the information was used to steal business.
A judge later threw out the award, calling it "grossly excessive." This week, Oracle turned down a smaller award of $272 million, paving the way for a retrial with a different jury.
Oracle landed a publicity jackpot from the trial. Ellison used it to repeatedly shame SAP publicly. SAP admitted the theft and agreed to pay $20 million to settle criminal charges filed by the Department of Justice over the practices at the former subsidiary, TomorrowNow.
AP Technology Writer Michael Liedtke in San Francisco contributed to this report.
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