USDA, Marines replace SAP in isolated organizations

Cite costs, incompatibility among reason for moving to open-source rival

Editor's note: This article has been modified since its initial publication to include additional information.

The Agriculture Department and the Marine Corps are replacing some implementations of SAP software with another vendor’s. Both are replacing their current business intelligence software with Jaspersoft. The changes pertain to small units, not agencywide.

The news follow reports that California’s Marin County is not only replacing its SAP enterprise resource planning software but suing the integrator, Deloitte Consulting, for fraud over alleged excessive costs of the failed installation.

Related coverage:

California county dumps SAP

According to Sam Friedman, business intelligence practice manager for Column Technologies and IT solution architect for Marine Corps, the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune replaced SAP Crystal Reports with Jaspersoft because using Crystal Reports software over the Web was costly. It had become costly and technically complex to scale the software to the level needed, and it was incompatible with the Corps’ pre-built Web connector, he said. SAP’s Web connector also only worked on Microsoft Windows, not Linux or Unix.

"Jaspersoft's Business Intelligence Suite cut out a significant bottleneck in IT," Friedman said. USMC employees can access real-time information and non-technical users can create reports via a Web portal using Jaspersoft, which the agency was unable to do previously.

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture  is replacing business intelligence software from both Oracle and SAP. The new technology is a commercial open-source stack solution including Linux, Infobright, Talend and Jaspersoft.

NIFA moved away from Oracle and SAP because the costs associated with the software platforms exceeded the agency’s budget, performance issues with SAP and lengthy development cycles with Oracle, which delayed funding for the technology.

According to Joe Barbano, a project manager for NIFA, moving to open-source software “was really an easy sell. We were able to be up and running very quickly and respond much more efficiently to congressional inquiries – all at a fraction of the cost that proprietary software would have cost us."

SAP spokesman Andy Kendzie pointed out that the changes do not reflect an overall rejection of SAP, but that USDA and the Marine Coirps remain loyal SAP customers.

"At USDA for example, the action was by one of the smaller organizations in USDA’s research area that coordinates grants and communications with universities," Kendzie said in an e-mail message. "Overall, USDA uses SAP for its mission-critical enterprise financial management and procurement functions, among others. Fifteen USDA divisions are now using SAP's ERP solution, with three more going live this fall. Finally, USDA recently signed on for SAP's BusinessObjects analytics solution to support several thousand users."

The systems that the Marines replaced "involved a set of old SAP Crystal Reports licenses that were acquired through the distribution channel years ago," Kendzie said. "SAP continues to remain a vital component of the USMC information technology portfolio."

About the Author

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.

Reader Comments

Mon, Aug 30, 2010

"SAP’s Web connector also only worked on Microsoft Windows, not Linux or Unix." Hmm... Crystal Reports has had a UNIX and Linux web connector since version 8.5, released something like 9 years ago.

Mon, Aug 30, 2010 Tomithy

Interesting, considering that SAP is a huge company with many talented IT personal. There could be be many more smaller reasons why this project didnt take off, but I believe that it is not solely focus on a private-vs-open source reasoning, as open source does not answer to all the challenges, like compatibility, technicalities. Another point to note is that with the experience from SAP's integration and Deloitte's consulting, NIFA might have better clarified their needs and hence have a much easier time working with Jaspersoft's tools on a 2nd implementation run. Nonetheless, SAP + Deloitte is a expensive combination and having shell out so much expectations of a successful delivery is naturally much higher.

Mon, Aug 30, 2010

This is a ridiculous article. Maybe you should publish an article every time an agency switches a few SQL server licenses for Oracle licenses (Breaking News!!!). The editors @ GCN actually found this worth posting on their website???

Fri, Aug 27, 2010

It amazes me how irresponsible a news organization can be by publishing a sensationalized article such as this. The USDA is in the middle of a number of SAP implementations – WebSCM, FMMI and MIDAS. WebSCM utilizes SAP’s SRM and Procurement for Public Sector and went live a few weeks ago. FMMI is based on SAP’s ERP 6 with Enhancement Pack 4, of which they are live with 18 agencies and are on track to go live with another 3 this November. MIDAS has just been awarded and is moving forward without issues. These projects are large (over $100M) projects, and GCN would have you believe that USDA has abandoned SAP altogether because they have chosen a new BI solution. And in fact, NIFA is one of the agencies that went live in March utilizing SAP’s Business Warehouse. I know its good press to bash SAP, but let’s at least have all the facts.

Fri, Aug 27, 2010

This is certainly not news-worthy and only serves as an endorsement for Column, Jaspersoft and Talend. This is very low level, basic reporting functionality you are addressing. Next time at least write about something on an Enterprise level.

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