An observer to the mid-October business software consolidation games could get whiplash watching all the volleying back and forth as enterprise resource planning (ERP) giants SAP AG and Oracle Corp. battled for the governance, risk and compliance (GRC) and business performance management (BPM) advantage.

No sooner did SAP announce an agreement to buy business performance management (BPM) software vendor Business Objects SA, in a somewhat tardy response to Oracle's February purchase of Hyperion Solutions Corp., then Oracle bid for LogicalApps, a maker of automated applications control products for Sarbanes-Oxley management–a niche that SAP filledin April 2006 with the acquisition of Virsa Systems Inc. Not a week had elapsed before Oracle moved again, this time with an offer for BEA Systems Inc., which makes software that connects servers.

Rumors swirled. Would IBM Corp. swallow up SAP, giving the German software maker the deep pockets it needs to grow and launching IBM into the ERP and GRC stratosphere? Who will be scooped up next? The money is on Cognos Inc., the last big independent business intelligence (BI) and performance management software maker. And then the most fundamental question of all: Is this marking the end of the niche player in the GRC and BPM space?

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