SAP’s announcements on April 10,2012 – and Vijay says…


SAP very kindly let me participate in their analyst day on April 10th, and a dinner the night before in San Francisco Westin. I particularly enjoyed spending some time with Irfan Khan, who is the CTO of Sybase, and an SVP at SAP. SAP paid for my flights and hotel too. Here are my thoughts coming out of the meeting. As always, these are just my personal opinions and not that of my employer.

GA announcements were made for BW on HANA and BPC 10 (also works on HANA). SAP said they have 80 live customers – although I have not seen a number of how many have switched off their old disk based BW systems, if any. Vishal also showed impressive performance stats on a 100TB 16 node IBM system running HANA. https://twitter.com/#!/vijayasankarv/status/189764752694722561/photo/1
It was also impressive seeing how much performance improvement has been attained on the new Sandy-bridge processors . All of that is commendable – and something SAP should be proud of.

There are a few things I would like SAP to address at the field level. Customers want benchmarks – and SAP should give them some benchmark as part of certifying the hardware. SAP should also prove out the data center readiness of HANA – things like DR/HA, power consumption etc. I told Vishal Sikka that it will be awesome if he can pull the plug literally on HANA system during his SAPPHIRE keynote and show on stage that nothing will happen to data, and that fail over works. He seemed to be in agreement. Same with concurrent users – it is a common question on how performance will vary as concurrent users work on HANA. If these questions are quickly answered, SAP has a good chance of capitalizing on the momentum.
I was also pretty psyched to hear that Vishal had designed some parts of HANA himself – hats off to him. That is true technical leadership.

Steve Lucas explained SAP’s vision on being a database company – and reminded us that it is not just HANA, but also EIM products, ASE, IQ etc. First off – SAP could not have found a better guy than Steve to lead the charge on DB. He is terrific and has a great team behind him. I was not a big fan of SAP’s original message of trying to be the number 2 DB vendor on the planet by revenue. That is not only a rather unrealistic goal given ORACLE, IBM and MS will go all out and protect their turf, it will also weaken important partnerships SAP has with IBM and MS. Vishal played down the number 2 DB vendor message, and instead put this idea forward that SAP just wants to be the fastest growing DB vendor out there. Now that is a credible message, and I am sure the partners will not feel so bad about it. Nevertheless – it will be naive to think that the three other DB vendors will stand still. It will be an interesting play off.

SAP also announced a fund to subsidize HANA implementations which is worth 250 million Euros. The idea is that if a customer buys HANA, SAP will throw in free consulting up to some % of their license fees. I seriously think this is a terrible idea on many levels. Of course I don’t deny that I work for a big SI, and hence I have a serious bias.
1. It will shut off SI partners from HANA for next couple of years. And if they have nothing to gain from HANA, why would they help SAP sell it to clients where they have relationships?
2. If HANA is truly easy and simple – why does it need SAP to implement it? And after SAP walks out of the implementation – who will support HANA ?
3. If SI partners are kept out of HANA work, what will be their confidence in investing in training and IP generation for HANA and everything else SAP comes up with?

Obviously, SAP needs to capitalize on HANA momentum now before ORACLE and IBM come out with something that makes it less of an attraction. So I get why SAP has to go all out now. But I truly believe that taking SI partners along with them would have been a superior strategy. In any case, there is a chance that SAP might in turn “outsource” some of the free consulting work they give to clients to partners. I will be watching this action closely.

SAP has also come up with a VC fund for HANA based start up companies for $155M . This is a brilliant idea – and I hope many people will make good use of it.

Sanjay Poonen spent some time explaining the mobility vision. They are not going to use SUP any more – and stick more to SAP Mobility Platform as the branding. They also announced partnerships on mobility with 3 companies. I got a chance to talk to the CEO of one of these companies called Sencha. I readily admit I like the Sencha partnership more than everything else I heard during the event. If anything, SAP missed a chance to showcase them more prominently. They have a free opensource SDK for HTML5 based mobile and desktop app development. They have an OData connector too for accessing SAP systems. They have a flexible licensing model, and have millions of developers. Now – that does not mean those millions should be claimed as part of SAP ecosystem. But it gives SAP a chance to attract those people to build SAP apps. I would encourage everyone interested in mobility to check these guys out – I am planning to do a hello world on that SDK when I get some free time.

Not a lot of clarity was given on the SAP’s mobile pricing models, sandboxes of SAP systems for mobile developers to make sure their apps work etc – but we should know more from SAPPHIRE.

Here is a parting thought for SAP – at the next teched, could you get Sanjay Poonen on stage to do a bit of keynoting for mobile ? From what I have seen and heard at other events – I am sure Sanjay will surely capture the attention of SAP techies, and he is one of the most articulate people at SAP.

All things said – it was one of the best run SAP events I have been to. Well done, SAP