Security in India urgently needs transformation


Over the last week, I have spent my time traveling across India with my team visiting MongoDB partners . It is amazing to see how much SI industry has changed , and also how much has not changed . More on that in another blog post at another time .

The one thing that consistently was a pain in the neck for me was the security process at companies , hotels and airports . It is the most cumbersome , inefficient and ineffective process one could design .

Let’s start with hotels . Hotels in India take security seriously from the looks of it – and after the terrorist attack on Taj in Mumbai , it is understandable that they stepped up the effort . However the mechanics of the exercise is where it is borderline stupid . When a car carrying a passenger arrives at the gate , they search in the trunk of the car and under the car – but not inside the car . What happens if a bad guy is holding a weapon in his hand while sitting inside the car ? Nothing – he will make his way to the hotel .

In some hotels they have sniffer dogs checking for explosives . It is clear to me at least that these dogs are over worked and most probably have no drive to find anything half way through a long shift . I do appreciate the opportunity to pet those dogs on my way in whenever I can .

Then there is a metal detector when you get into the hotel lobby itself . I watched multiple people walk through it with their wallets and phones in their pockets and the thing never beeped once . What exactly is the point here ?

Moving on to large enterprises – many of them huge multinational companies . They have armies of security personnel and access to technology . Yet the process to admit a visitor is nearly 100% manual and ineffective . They write visitor info in thick ledgers – often multiple ones which clearly can’t be fully reconciled easily or at real time if there is a breach . These companies one way or other are at the forefront of “digital transformation” , “big data” and “internet of things” movement today – and hence they should have no problems fixing it . I suspect there are legal issues that are beyond their control that is stopping them . I really hope that this issue is taken care of swiftly – it will not only improve security , it will also tangibly improve customer satisfaction . What is more – if they can design an elegant solution, they might even be able to sell it to others for a profit .

And finally there are airports . Honestly Indian airports seem to have the best security of all places I have been to . The only sore sight here is the sheer number of people needed for a single task . Just to board a small regional jet in Bangalore , I counted more than twenty young people at the gate with walkie talkies and multiple printed documents . That is roughly the job of three people elsewhere . It is not an IT problem – it’s a management problem . Fix it please

That apart , everything else has been fine and dandy in India so far .

MongoDB global consulting services – lets get started


Yesterday , I took on the responsibility of leading the charge for MongoDB’s consulting services , in addition to my role as the leader of global channels and BD . As I broke the news to my friends and family, the most common response was “we knew you would be back in consulting sooner than later” :)

I grew up in consulting – from TCS in late 90s till IBM GBS a few years ago . I have seen the good and bad of consulting and I left it for a technology job mostly because I thought there wasn’t a lot more value I could add as a consulting guy after all those years . The travel schedule for consultants is kind of brutal too – and that played a role in my decision too .

So what changed my mind to jump back into consulting with both feet in ?

Services business for me has exactly one KPI – outrageous success for our clients . Services is not a transactional business for me . We aim to be trusted advisors and partners for our clients . And that is essentially what I mean when I say “we don’t have customers – we have clients”.

Here is the short answer – MongoDB in 2014 gives me the same energy to jump on a plane at 4AM every week , that I used to have as an SAP consultant in late 90s. It checks every box for me of what an interesting and challenging leadership job should be .

And here is the much longer answer :)

1. My Gang

Our consulting team has some of the the smartest people one can work with . My daughter has a favorite short that says “I got mad ninja skills and stuff” . As I learned more about my new team – and as I spent time talking to Richard K, my consulting director – the visual I had in mind was standing in between a lot of people wearing a similar Tshirt :) .

I would love to work with them and see them grow to great heights as we make our clients transform their apps to a modern paradigm .

Yes I am hiring – if you are an expert in building apps on MongoDB and/or operating database clusters in complex landscapes , and love to work closely with clients – we should talk . Leave a comment below with your linkedin profile and I will be in touch if there is a match .

2. The Client

Vast majority of apps that enterprises use today run on legacy RDBMS technologies . It is not because those legacy technologies are the best suited for those apps – mostly it is because there was limited choice at the time these apps were built . Policies and procedures that exist in IT shops were formulated to suit the needs and cover the deficiencies of these old technologies .

Many clients pay a lot for that choice today . They pay a hefty maintenance bill every year . They are stuck with apps that can’t change fast enough because of rigid relational schemas .

I believe we can show customers a better path to success . At least 70% of apps can work better on a newer database like MongoDB – with way more agility and much less cost . My team can do that assessment quickly and we can partner with customers to do the redesign of those old applications and creation of those new modern applications that will grow with your changing business needs .

If you are a company with such applications – and would like us to take a look at modernizing your applications – we should talk . Shoot me a note to vijay at mongoDB dot com .

I should make myself very clear here – I don’t hate SQL at all . I am as big a fan as the next person and have spent a lot of time developing on relational databases . If you want to run SAP ERP – by all means use a relational DB. It is optimized for that workload .

I won’t ever tell a customer to rip and replace a legacy technology unless there is a tangible outcome . I would also be the first to tell them if SQL is the better way to go for their given use case . Old relational technologies also have more tooling built for their stuff – and I expect customers to have some inertia in moving away from what is familiar to them .

3. The product

MongoDB is no doubt a hugely popular technology – a database that gets downloaded tens of thousands of times a day . I don’t need to convince clients to use it – they already love it . I believe that most of what my Gang needs to do is to show them the “art of the possible” on development , operations etc .

It is also a technology that is rapidly advancing . Who better to help our customers and partners with these innovations than our services experts ?

4. Our partners

We have more than 700 partners today – and my channels Gang and I are committed to their success in helping our customers successfully transform . Every partner I have spoken to so far have assured me of their full support in working closely with our services team on customer engagements . They are seeing the customer pain daily of working with legacy database technologies . Together we can partner with customers to build applications that suit the needs of today and tomorrow .

MongoDB also has a great ISV program . We want to be a great database for building modern applications . Anything that is not core to our database – we partner heavily . We work with a spectrum of enterprise vendors like IBM and SAP to tiny startups who have great products that interoperate with MongoDB .

We codevelop solutions and we go to market together . For example – our hadoop connector is certified on Cloudera , Hortonworks and MapR . If there is a heavy analytics workload that needs to be triggered – we offload it to hadoop (or a Datawarehouse like teradata ) rather than try to do it inside our database .

Another example is Adobe Experience Manager which uses MongoDB as a database option . We work with Adobe and our SI partners to help mutual customers succeed . This commitment to interoperability is crucial to customer success and something that our consultants hold dear to their hearts .

That is it – can you tell I am excited ? :)

Happy birthday Keralam – there is no place like home


November 1 is the birthday of my home state of Keralam – a place we lovingly call God’s own country.

I was born and raised in Trivandrum , the capital of Keralam . And to me – there isn’t a place more beautiful than Kerala on this planet . I am generally quite happy with my life with very few regrets , but the one thing that I hold myself as an abject failure is my (perceived) inability to make a decent livelihood while staying in Kerala . For record – It’s where I want to spend most of my retired life .

In school – Malayalam was my favorite subject . Its a language spoken only by Keralites , which in the grand scheme of things is not that big a population . Yet the quality of literature is astonishing . I don’t have the literary abilities of Changampuzha – but I have the same romantic notions of the language that he did . I am fairly sure the poet was rather high on alchohol and/or drugs as he penned these lines and most of his work in general :)

I have a pretty good collection of Malayalam books with me . Every year, I pick a few and read them again – it’s fascinating how much more enjoyment I get reading them again as my own life experiences become more varied with time .

I have often wondered why something that has failed the world over like communism found roots in Kerala . The novels and dramas of the time give me a good idea of how the movement gained prominence and became deep rooted in our psyche .

More than the “serious” stuff – it is the sattire and humor that has stayed with me . “Sanjayan” is on my all time favorite list when it comes to stuff that makes me laugh out loud and think deeply at the same time . Those essays are a league apart – and have definitely influenced how I view society.

That said , the king of sharp wit , humor and sattire was Kunjan Nambiar . He used fairly simple language and the context of stories in Hindu holy books – and generations of Malayalam readers have been his fans . I am sure that will continue for many more generations – his brand is timeless . I use his parts of his poems – usually translated to English – in many a situation where a little humor could help calm down someone at work .

Like these words that Hanuman used to calm down a pretty worked up Bheeman http://youtu.be/_OU04lw1dpM

Not that it helped – Bheeman was not convinced and explained what I think of as “the original definition of Catch 22 ” . In Bheeman’s view , Hanuman ought to be killed for being such a nuisance . But killing such an old defenseless guy will give a bad name in society for someone like Bheema . On other hand if he is not killed – Hanuman will continue to irritate Bheeman with his wise cracks . Quite the dilemma :) http://youtu.be/Vm2KxptrmDI

There were some serious philosophers too that impressed me . The one that comes rushing to mind is Ramanujan Exhuthachan who penned the Malayalam version of Ramayanam , in a very creative way . It is as if it was narrated by a beautiful little bird . Here is a snippet on the folly of chasing material benefits as explained by Raman to Lakshmanan . http://youtu.be/iDAM3vIe-kM

Enough with the language itself – what else comes to mind ? Of course the food ! Whatever the research says about carbs being bad – I hold “Sadya” as the ultimate balanced feast a man could eat . How many dishes can hold its own against a classic biriyani ? And is there a dessert more delicious than palpayasam ?

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Kerala was the original spice capital of the planet . Vasco de Gama found his way there to trade spices . It did not end well for Kerala , but the western culinary world got a real good blessing in the process . Many of my friends love Indian food already – but they base that opinion on the chicken tikka masala served in Indian restaurants. For the record – that is not authentic Indian food , and we don’t cook that stuff at home. How I wish there were a lot more Kerala restaurants in US and Europe . It’s my dream – a dream shared almost by every non resident Mallu – to start a chain of restaurants in US that serve Kerala cuisine exclusively some day.

Kerala has a lot of good things going – almost 100% literacy , highest ratio of women to men in the country , great universities ( my grand dad , dad and me went to the same university ) , lowest corruption in India and so on . It also has some deep rooted problems – like the extreme activism by unions that has completely killed off most industry . Irony is that while mallus love to join any random strike in Kerala – I used to pray for strikes while in college – they are completely happy to work hard once outside Kerala . So while Kerala has no industry to claim fame , it can boast of a lot of inflow of money from ex-pats .

There are plenty of missed opportunities too . It is naturally beautiful – plenty of greenery , beaches , great architecture etc . However , while it has improved a little , Tourism as an industry is still largely an amateur game . Kerala doesn’t value private sector all that much . People mostly sit back and expect government to solve all problems .

Another harsh reality is that public hygiene is constantly coming down . The state badly needs infrastructure for things like garbage disposal – and the citizens need a culture of not littering . Again – it’s a problem that can be solved if public and private sector comes together . But that is against the grain for our culture – we do expect government to solve it .

Despite occasional problems – religious harmony is pretty good in Kerala compared to many other places I know of . Hindus , Muslims and Christians live peacefully there . Right in palayam – roughly the downtown area of Trivandrum – there is a big mosque , a big church and a temple all next to each other . The Hindu temple practically is next door to a fish and meat market . I went to a Hindu primary school , a catholic high school , a Muslim engineering college and a government run business school . I have never had a problem with another religion in Kerala – and I hope it stays that way for ever .

I think I have rambled way too much on this – totally got carried away with all the nostalgia . Hopefully I will be there in Trivandrum in couple of weeks for a short visit

Where does IBM go from here ?


As always – all of this is just my personal opinion here .

As a former IBMer, I was absolutely delighted to see that the IBM CEO finally said last week that the company is letting go of its 2015 EPS strategy. The best time to do that was the day she took over as CEO, but better late than never.

It was a ridiculous goal to begin with. The board and the previous CEO Sam Palmisano did not set Ginnie and the company up for success with this EPS of $20 by 2015 goal. I don’t know too many employees or executives in the company that truly believed this goal was achievable. IBM is like the military in many senses – it is a command and control style organization. So when the marching orders came, people shook their heads and then dutifully went out to try their best to make it happen. If there was a corporate equivalent of a death march – this would surely have made the shortlist.

There are only three ways in general to boost EPS

1. Cut cost
2. Increase revenue
3. Buy back shares

IBM tried as hard as they could on 1 and 3, but doesn’t look like they did much on 2.

For sure – IBM has a LOT of management overhead. Between all the companies I have worked for and have consulted to – I don’t think there is a more matrix management oriented company than IBM. When I had my first quota carrying role at IBM, I remember five or ten people (most of them I did not know ) would check in to see if I am on track to close a given deal. Most of them just managed spreadsheets . This is just the sales side of the equation. Similar kind of overlay functions existed in every part of IBM. So, yes – Sam absolutely was right in assuming that he can cost cut his way to EPS nirvana just by firing people if nothing else worked .

Unfortunately – that is not what happened, at least as far as I know. The top heavy organization more or less continued to exist – probably because they were the decision makers. Instead the people who got cut were the ones who were paid a lot less, and who actually had skills to do actual work. Well eventually some of the top management also got their pink slips – but more of a too little too late case.

The double whammy of a result is there for all of us to see – revenue going down all the time for last several quarters and then later profit stopping to go up .

IBM did try to buy back shares as a way to boost EPS . (IBM also pays a good dividend every quarter ). It helped for a while – but then that is the money that did not get spent on buying companies or reinvesting back in its own business . This is money that could have resulted in new revenue , but that is not the path IBM took. I don’t have the exact math – but I think IBM spent probably four or five times the money they spent on M&A on share buy backs .

So now what is next ? How will IBM regain its glory ? Here are a few thoughts that I wish IBM Management will consider

1. Minimize the management over head . There is absolutely no way to justify 10 people checking in on every deal .

2. Sell off aggressively every part of the business that is low value . I would start with hardware and consulting – both have low value parts . What is low value for IBM might actually be what another company might need to grow . Like say consulting – there are multiple indian outsourcers who might do well to buy parts of IBM services business to move up their value chain

3. Bring back “respect for the individual” as a core value . Start treating employees on par with the customers and shareholders . Employees are the ones who need the most attention now . Take care of them , and they will take care of customers better . And that will take care of shareholders a lot better over the long term than buying back shares . It’s the sustainable model unlike the last attempt

4. IBM has an amazing leadership training program – I know that first hand . And it has more leadership bench than most of its peers . What is missing is that such enablement is not there lower down the ranks . If IBM needs to be a powerhouse in IT again – the customer facing organization needs the kid of leadership training and attention that executive ranks get .

5. Put the best sales and technical teams possible on cloud , big data and Watson . There are plenty of good people in IBM who could be retrained on these areas. And there are experts who can be – and need to be – hired . For existing business, automate everything repeatable like crazy . Make delivery excellence truly mean customer success as much as profitability .

6. Set realistic expectations with employees , customers and the street . Set stretch goals – IBMers can meet and exceed stretch goals . Just don’t venture again to the realm of impossible targets .

Despite all its current troubles – I am still an optimist on IBM returning to its past glory . There are three things that make me an optimist on IBM’s future

1. IBMers – past and present – are a special breed . I have all the confidence that the good people left in the company are as good as any in the industry to make the turn around possible

2. IBM has a brand value that opens doors at customers across the globe . IBM needs that brand to sell more cloud , Watson and bigdata solutions to customers .

3. Through thick and thin, IBM has invested billions of dollars on research . The time to plant a shade tree was in the past and IBM got that right big time . That has already paid back IBM many times in past and I am fully confident that it will continue to do so .

As they say , Once and IBMer , ALWAYS an IBMer !

Logo changes


Yesterday someone mentioned that SAP changed its logo again . Dennis Howlett even posted a blog saying he loved it . http://diginomica.com/2014/10/22/digibyte-new-gold-sap-logo/

Den says the logo looks masculine , gold is an unusual color (to me it looks like an orange not gold ) and will get more attention and that the cross bar of A looks more like a smilie now . I don’t disagree with any of that

What I don’t understand is – what is the outcome SAP expects from this logo change ? Will it make more customers click on SAP digital content? Will there be more leads for SAP ? How does this change connect to Bill’s theme of simple ?

Logo does look beautiful and I want to congratulate its designer . Personally I preferred the old Blue , but that is just my taste . But I have no idea how it adds value to SAP or its customers . Would be great if a marketing expert could explain it . I am not saying this is a bad logo – just that it has picked my curiosity seriously . It’s a non trivial undertaking for a company like sap to roll out a new logo . I am just looking to understand the rationale of doing this .

Geeks , Suits and Their Database Choices


Who chooses the database for an application? how do those decisions get made in a company ? Is it a suit or a geek or both ?

Conventional wisdom says geeks are the best qualified to decide on a database, and suits are better for selecting applications – especially packaged applications. I think the conventional wisdom is still largely true – but would add that suits have a more important role to play in selecting a database today than say a decade ago.

Say, there is a conversation happening between a suit and a geek about budgeting for building a custom order management application . And to get to my point quickly (?) – lets say the last remaining question on the table is which database to buy. Since it is a technical decision, the suit is mostly looking at the geek to start the thought process.

BEGINNING OF THE FICTIONAL STORY

The geek says – “well, it is a transactional application – so unfortunately we cannot consider these modern technologies like MongoDB which are not ACID. We should consider one of the traditional relational databases.”

Suit asks “what does that mean in terms of time and money?”

Geek : “Oh these things are expensive. Think big $$. We probably need to nail down schema design and put some strong change control in place for the project.  Once we start development, schema changes will set us back big time in schedule. Probably best to stick to a waterfall methodology. On the bright side – there are plenty of people who know this technology, and there are many tools and utilities to manage it”

Suit asks ” err…as you know, we don’t exactly know what to expect from customers since it is a brand new market. Can we deploy quickly and then change as we learn more?”

Geek : “I hear you – and if it was not a transactional system, I could have saved you a lot of time and money by choosing something way more agile and less expensive like MongoDB. See for order management transactions, you need this thing we geeks call ACID. We get that only with these expensive relational systems which have been around for decades. We have done a lot of these projects on relational . With some good project management discipline – we can deliver the first code drop on the date we planned even if we have to do it in a waterfall and not agile as methodology. But the iterations you want as we learn more – well that might be the thing that is not easy to accomplish. Once we nail down a schema , and we learn months later that we need to change it, it is not very easy to change in short time”

Suit : ” ok got it – not ideal, but then if you tell me there is no other way then we should go with your recommendation. Lets revise our business plan to make it realistic with what technology can do”.

Geek : “ok – looks like we have a plan. I will call a few vendors and get quotes and will work on a project plan”.

THE END !

These kind of conversations happen all the time in enterprises around the world – I have participated in many of these as a suit and as a geek. Neither the suit nor the geek said anything wrong in this fictional conversation above. However what is interesting is what they DID NOT say – and those nuances could have completely changed the climax of this story, and maybe in some cases saved the business a lot of time and money.

Taking MongoDB itself as an example – it is not correct to say “its a modern NoSQL database, and it is not ACID”. MongoDB is ACID within a document . And a document can be quite rich in what data it holds. An order – something that in the relational world is made of a header table, and item table, a schedule lines table, and many master data tables for holding names and addresses and so on – can be held in one document, mapping to one object in the application program. Documents can be nested too . So while MongoDB is not ACID across an entire big sharded cluster – not many apps really need it to do so either. If the application needs multi-step complex transactions – by all means consider a relational DB for persistence, but if not – there is usually a way to make it work nicely in a non-relational DB too (often with nice side benefits like scaling horizontally and keeping data well organized for access using geo tagging, as is the case with MongoDB).

The big questions that were missed in the fictional story above are specific details around business priorities and business logic. Lets consider the simplest case of any order management system – making sure that orders match quantity of finished goods available for sale. It is totally possible that there is only one widget to sell and two customers see it on their screens and want to buy it .

The geek might want the database to make sure only that one customer gets to buy the widget – and the other customer should get an error on his screen. And hence the geek might make a recommendation that a relational DB with fully ACID functionality is the right persistence layer for this scenario.

However – the Suit might think rather differently from the geek, if only someone asked him !

Case 1:

I always want my customers to place an order, even if there is an out of stock possibility. In case I don’t have stock for that customer – I can find it from somewhere else. Or I can make it up to him with a discount for something else. By keeping the customer happy – I have higher chances of getting repeat business. Maybe he was planning to buy this widget and a necklace for his wife – if I did not let him order the widget, he might have probably been annoyed enough to not order the necklace either which is more profitable for me.

What is a big priority for me is to make sure I get this app online at the earliest and keep tweaking it till I get it right. I also want to make sure the user gets extremely good response time on his browser anywhere in the world.

Case 2:

The reconciliation effort of having 2 customers both ordering the last widget is a horrible idea for my business (say I am selling antiques where no replacement exists for a piece)  . My customers actually understand that I sell unique things and that they need some luck and not just money to buy my wares.

That is my priority – I can live with changes that take a little longer to implement, given they are few and far apart.

ENDCASE

What we discussed above is just one of many tradeoffs in an application’s design – albeit a very common one. The devil is in the details. Those important details do not come into light without geeks and suits sitting together and understanding the business priorities and trade offs before choosing a database.

A database is a foundational component of an application. And unlike a decade ago – now there are plenty of choices of databases. If our fictional conversation happened in 80s or 90s, probably we would have picked a relational DB as the answer in either case. And since that was the case – there was not much of a reason for geeks to have any deep conversations with suits to find the best database for the job. That is also why databases are now a $30B plus market – customers did not have much choice and all applications worked on relational databases even if they were not a perfect fit.

Not any more – now a customer can choose whether to use SQL (still plenty of great use cases for SQL exist) , or they can choose a more modern database like MongoDB ( or others – there are other choices too depending on the nuances) for other requirements. But either way – to exercise the bounty of choices, it is imperative that geeks and suits both work together to find the right database.

What would be cool to see in a modernized SAP Business Suite ?


I grew up as a consultant in SAP R/3 – programming and configuring several modules , across many continents and for a lot of customers . As I see the excitement build up for SAP Teched next week , I keep thinking of what more SAP can do to make the ERP system more modern .

I know a lot of people think moving ERP to SaaS is the answer . I don’t think that needs to be a priority for SAP at all . Even if SAP had a super duper SaaS ERP today , I don’t know a lot of SAP customers in America or Europe with “wall to wall” on premises ERP who will jump in with both feet . SaaS is a good long term option – but they have a lot of time to get there for core ERP . If at all SAP builds a grand new SaaS ERP – I think they are better off selling it to net new customers and not to instal base ECC customers .

Vertical apps – given SAP has 26 or so industries they have solutions for – seem like the most logical answer . But those are also incredibly hard to build . So I am looking for what horizontal functionality could help modernize the suite .

What was the original message of ERP? In the 90s – it was to give one view of your business . SAP ECC is an incredibly complex and comprehensive system – and it has all the data anyone would ever need . But – it doesn’t give “one view of business” . SAP can create a financial statement for a company code or a profit center in ECC , but that alone does not make “one view”. It is an important view – but only a limited view . A sophisticated “one view” needs to be built custom at each customer today .

It is easy for a user to drown in data in a Buisness suite. Imagine a world where the CXOs can look at a financial statement , which shows exceptions that need attention and they can just navigate to that one transaction that caused that exception . That itself will get them drooling . Now imagine if they can also get prioritized recommendations of what can be done to fix the exception ?

Suite has all the information a business user needs – and an excellent security model to go with it . What is missing is flexibly organizing an enterprise view of a slice of the business and seeing the exceptions . There are many parts of suite that facilitate drill down today – but that is not exception based . You need to drill down endlessly to find the issues . That is when users give up , consultants make a living and MS excel becomes default answer .

What about the lay user ? The biggest problem for a lay user in ERP is searching for information . If an AR clerk knows an order number or a customer address for a shipment that wasn’t paid for – she will need to know specific search helps or reports to find related information . If you look at a standard selection screen on sapgui – you probably won’t expect a lay user to find a way to use it meaningfully . Making it html5 doesn’t solve it – it needs a new UX from scratch to make a difference . Why not give a system wide free form search that all users can use ? Suite has an extremely good data model – granted it has meaning only in ABAP dictionary and not at database . But there is a way to make it work – so why not do that ? Just for search alone – I am sure there are customers who will pay a premium .

What about less tables in data dictionary and less data footprint due to compression ? Geeks like me absolutely love it – but with storage prices going down steadily , and infrastructure getting commoditized – it doesn’t come across as a compelling message by itself for a buyer . At best – the nested tables and less data should be positioned as a way to get to better usability features in future .

While on the topic of simplification – we should also remember the reason SAP became popular was the ability to extend standard code with custom ABAP code. Back in the day it was user exits – and then many other things came in as technology improved . But there is a problem with user exits in general – most of them are at a line item level of a document . This means a database cannot help speed up the code since the logic needs to be executed in abap server in a loop for each line . Will “run simple” mean that suite will now have a lot of additional BAdIs that will understand set operations ? That would be super cool .

Technical simplification is of little to no interest to business – and SAP messaging and product strategy should reflect that .

In the same vein – when people think of a modern suite helping them close books faster , there needs to be a sensible expectation . Not all parts of suite are real time . And even when everything is optimized to be real time – there are things like depreciation that only happen periodically . So while it is correct to say close will be faster – close itself won’t be real time for near future .

Another aspect of faster close needing an expectation setting is when we think of end to end processes . When we close books – there are things like consolidations and inter company eliminations and so on that need to happen. Those don’t always happen in suite . So they need an external system talking to suite and that means that even if suite is real time , you can’t exactly have a real fast close as a business process . This is all still better than the slow closing process today – but if customers have an unreasonable expectation of real time close etc, they will be severely disappointed .

What about good old reporting ? This is the biggest miss for SAP suite today in my mind . SAP has all the knowledge and IP and technology to embed BI in suite apps . Yet we still see the same abap reports today in ECC that I have used in 90s when SAP had black and white screens . Hana live would be a whole lot more palatable to customers if there was BI content on it . I hope one day we will start seeing SAP bring these two worlds together .

What about Hana enterprise cloud for hosting ERP ? I don’t think SAP will be a great data center company and hosting margins are not comparable to software margins . A Management utilities layer built by SAP and licensed to partners who are already in infra business seem better to me than running infrastructure themselves . The IBM announcement seems to be in this direction and I liked it .

I make a lot of fun of “social” and it’s fluffiness . But I will be the first to admit that in the context of ERP , collaboration is actually the killer functionality – right after search functionality . Vast amounts of time and money is spent on rigid workflows and email and calls today and it is the epitome of inefficiency around ECC users everywhere . SAP already has Jam – they just need to sell it everywhere .

Last point – APIs . A modern suite should be able to provide a rich set of APIs to developers to build quickly around it . HCP is already a recommended approach to build extensions . The Apigee partnership provides management . ECC already has a lot of BAPIs (granted – they have God awful interfaces that only abap developers understand, and that needs to be simplified ). All the raw ingredients are already there – including BI and ETL . All that remains is a bit of engineering to make them work together and build a message around using HCP for the install base customers . SAP has a huge developer ecosystem that can make use is all this . I am betting on my friend Steve Lucas and team telling us more about this soon . There is nothing about SAP today that makes me more excited than Hana Cloud Platform .

Rant over and I wish all my pals an exciting time at Teched . Have fun ! I heard that the Keynotes are going to be run like never before :)