Oracle's blitz on leadership in enterprise applications might well be working to destablise its deadly rival SAP after CEO Leo Apotheker walked away from the German giant, adding fuel to the suggestion that the German giant is stumbling.

Apotheker's departure comes only three years after Shai Agassi left the company and like that high-profile departure suggests a boardroom not in complete harmony. Apotheker partly presided over what many feel to be a botched rollout of the Business ByDesign suite of apps aimed at the mass market, and over a messy change in licensing terms and tariffs that annoyed some customers and appeared to be badly timed given the macro-economic situation.

While Oracle has been on a multi-year M&A spree to build momentum, SAP has mostly focused on growing market share by spreading its appeal to smaller firms and satellites of incumbents. Apotheker's departure might, however, be the signal for Walldorf to release purse strings and patch financial performance through picking off firms that add capabilities and hence increase spending within the SAP customer base. Long-rumoured targets such as ECM firm Open Text might well appeal.

Certainly, and despite the PR warfare between the pair, Oracle and SAP will find it very hard to win big accounts from each other with customers so deeply embedded in respective ERP trenches.