The weather finally turned hot this week in Europe, and it looks like it could fray tempers a bit as Oracle, SAP and IBM once again set upon a collision course -- this time over data management around e-commerce.

To get things started, IBM announced at the Smarter Commerce Global Summit in Madrid that it is releasing software designed to improve data sharing and automate complex marketing and chain processes in the cloud.

The other thing that emerged today was that SAP announced it is putting a bid in for cloud-based collaborative commerce applications vendor Ariba at a cost of US$ 4.3 billion, making it the biggest acquisition this year and which puts SAP right up there with Oracle and IBM as cloud players.

The forecast for the summer is a stormy one as the deal is expected to close by the end of August, if, of course, Oracle doesn’t put a bid in for it, too -- something many analysts are not ruling out, as many Ariba customers are also customers of Oracle.

IBM Commerce Cloud

But away from the squabbling -- or irritants that could lead to squabbling -- and back to IBM. The new IBM Commerce on Cloud is the first integrated, e-commerce solutions in the cloud that runs the range of functions from marketing to selling to fulfilment.

It will provide accelerated business-to-consumer transactions by automating and synchronizing supply demand engines. Already, IBM claims that it manages data and commerce transactions in the cloud every year worth around US$ 100 billion, through 4.5 million daily client transactions.

With this, then, it looks like it's aiming for a much bigger slice of that market. With it, enterprises will be able to set up online storefronts as well as offering companies the possiblity of offering the same digital buying experience as the biggest companies in the world.

Accelerating commerce on the Cloud is a dramatic step forward in enabling companies to transform their business operations…Companies of all sizes can now deliver…personalized marketing,and selling the way customers want to buy, and delivering products through a supply chain that's prepared for the unpredictable."

But this is not all. While it is offering store-front and data management through Commerce on Cloud, it has also announced that it has enhanced several of its on-cloud collaboration networks to accelerate information sharing across demand and supply processes.

It has also created the Digital Data Exchange Partner program, which allows marketers to more effectively manage their marketing, promotions and customer behavioural analytics.

Marketers can gain an integrated view of information being developed across ad networks, survey vendors, testing vendors and email service providers to gain insights and better execute their marketing programs and services.

Learning Opportunities

SAP, Ariba

And SAP fits right in here with the Ariba acquisition, which may or may not go through, depending on how badly Oracle wants Ariba and, more important, if it is prepared to up the price, keeping in mind that Oracle has always said it would not be paying really big bucks for acquisitions, even if it has money to do so.

Competition in the on-demand space is really getting tough and as it has become tougher, so SAP has wielded its checkbook with ever increasing vigor, the most recent target of which was SuccessFactors in December.

With the addition of Ariba, SAP will be able to offer a cloud-based collaborative business commerce solution, establishing it as a business network and business-to-business collaboration vendor to its already considerable portfolio.

SAP sees the buy as one that will move it into a fast-growing segment of providing software to connect buyers and sellers across the globe, no matter where they are.

Last week, SAP outlined its roadmap for cloud applications business, which will focus on managing customers, suppliers, employees, and financials, in addition to its cloud suite offerings, Business ByDesign and SAP Business One.

This is all well and good, but if Oracle puts in a bid, as some expect, what then? Could be a hot summer on the way!