What do I expect to learn at SAPPHIRENOW 2011?

I am typing this from my flight to JFK from PHX. The next long trip on the cards is to MCO for SAPPHIRE NOW which is fast approaching. Having flown millions of miles, and having attended a good many SAP events – it is only apt that it is in a flight that I got to write a prequel to SAP’s mega event for 2011. What doesn’t help is the turbulence we are hitting while I am trying to type:)

Ever since the current Co-CEO’s took charge, I have heard a consistent message on SAP’s “On Premise, On Demand, On Device” story. It is a good thing too in my opinion, for a statement on strategy.

On Demand and On Device is where I see the most action now from SAP’s side. However, the big question my customers have is “What are the big innovations on existing On premises solutions, where we have already invested big $$?”. I expect SAP to give a clear answer to this at SAPPHIRE. SAP is big on design thinking and agile and all – so I am sure there is a crisp message to be delivered.

Next up – my favorite topic, HANA. I expect to see some firm dates for 1.0 GA, and 1.5 and 2.0 ramp/GA. I also want to know when HANA will support ABAP. SAP shops are generally skilled in ABAP, but less so in pure SQL. In its current form, HANA needs serious SQL skills and knowledge of tables. Having sold R/3 for ages on the message that “you don’t need to know tables and SQL”, it is a big change for customers to be thrown into other end of the spectrum. Again, I am sure there are good answers – and I hope we will hear on this from SAP. It would also be nice to know how many customers have gone live on HANA in production.

And while we are on the topic, when will HANA on cloud be available?
Hardware is growing at a terrific pace – if you blink, you will see 128 core blades are there and cheap 🙂 It is hard to keep up and extract value for most customers. Any smart solutions? And is the HANA software intellient enough to make use of the improved hardware as time progresses? Can it make use of more memory and processing power (scaling up/out etc). A follow on question will be HANA’s speed over networks – not all users sit close to a data center. So are there benchmarks available that shows performance across a realistic number of network hops?

Onwards to on-demand. I already blogged about my concern on the offline usage scenarios. Essentially, salesmen are not always wired. How will SAP support their OLTP and OLAP needs when they are offline? I also want to know how SAP will support integration between all the OD applications that they are developing. Or do they expect customers and SIs to do this?

Also, who is SAP targetting for non-ByD OD solutions as customer base? From what little I have heard – it looks to be targeted at big companies with operations in “developed” world. But for the most part, existing user base can be productive without new solutions in OD. Question is – what is SAP doing to help companies expand into new markets in Asia, Africa etc? Will it support multiple languages? How will we get information into an enterprise BI system from OD?

Finally, how is SAP addressing the problem in the market that SAP projects take too long? In past events, I have seen a lot of good talk on Agile and Design thinking as magic bullets. If that is the case, why is SAP not taking that approach to customers and partners and make them succesful? Is SAP doing agile in their consulting gigs?

I am going with an open mind, and hope to hear SAP executives answering all these questions .


Published by Vijay Vijayasankar

Son/Husband/Dad/Dog Lover/Engineer. Follow me on twitter @vijayasankarv. These blogs are all my personal views - and not in way related to my employer or past employers

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