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.

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