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Plattner calls for industry re-think

Software vendors are likely to perish unless they become more like car and aeroplane manufacturers and use parts from a variety of sources, according to Hasso Plattner, the CEO of software giant SAP AG.

Software vendors are likely to perish unless they dramatically overhaul their way of doing business, according to Hasso Plattner, the CEO of software giant SAP AG. He argues that software vendors must become more like car or aeroplane manufacturers and use parts from a variety of makers and not just in-house developments.

“This industry will not survive in the next 20 years with applications built by a few big companies,” Plattner told software developers at the JavaOne conference in San Francisco.

“Software has become so big that no company can do everything alone anymore,” he continued.

Later, in reference to Oracle’s attempts to sell to its customers everything from databases to accounting software, he added that “we cannot, as our friend Oracle preaches, put everything back into one bottle, one system.”

Plattner argued for the adoption of an industry-wide standard that would allow different software vendors access to the parts they need to build a software system. Like carmakers, vendors could then use products from various suppliers and not have to develop everything in-house.

SAP and Oracle have taken a step in this direction by adopting Sun Microsystem’s Java, which runs on almost any computer system, as their standard. However, Plattner admitted that Microsoft seemed set to go it alone with their new .NET format.

“I was not able to convince Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer to join this club,” he ruefully confessed.

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