SAP Teched 2011 – Monday and Tuesday. Hana, Hana and MORE HANA

Sunday was all about innojam. Theme : gamification (is that a word???) of the enterprise. And No – it was not based on “The games people play”. There were 13 teams…well, 12 serious teams and then us – the #PUKR team. PUKR stands for Puppies, Kittens, Unicorns and Rainbows.  To follow us . Our idea was to gamify the framework – so that you can gamify any business process. What can we say – we were ahead of our times, and the world did not see our vision. Especially the judges .


Jokes apart – it was a blast. 10 SAP mentors came together to put a solution together that had everything from a spec ( 1 page of backlog, half page datamodel), facebook page, twitter comments..and other assorted things like ECC, Webservices, HANA and BI 4.0.


The team that won did an awesome app on gamifying the expense reporting process.  And it had HANA and 2 IBMers and an SAP guy in the team. How much more do you need for sheer awesomeness? These guys went up to compete in demojam, but lost to an even more awesome team.


Monday night – we had the SAP Mentor reception. Which was the first time I got to eat something in 24 hours or so.  Aslann and Mark Finnern put up a great event for Mentors as always. And we had a surprise visitor – Vishal Sikka. He gave us some thoughts on the keynote that he was planning to deliver the next day. He also acknowledged that I had given him some grief on twitter for not responding to blog comments 🙂


I do think that it is a wasted opportunity for Vishal in particular and for SAP in general. SCN is the place where there is an even bigger brain trust than within the SAP labs.  Blog posts are just the start of a conversation. If you do not respond to the questions and observations made there – the blog just becomes something like a press release, but with a dab of lipstick. Of course Vishal is a busy guy – so maybe some one in his team can collect these questions, and Vishal can post a blog with replies.  Or find some other solution – but leaving these comments open does not seem like a good idea to me.  Knowing the guy – I will not be surprised to see him start responding to those questions.


Onwards to Monday – starting with the big keynote from Vishal Sikka. I was happy with the keynote.SAP did well.


1. SAP did the right thing by showcasing the two Asian customers who went live on HANA.  BRILLIANT !

2. Vishal reconfirmed the 9/16/11 date for GA for BI 4.0 .  Not sure why it could not have been 9/13 right at the Keynote, but I assume there is a good reason

3. HANA goes under BW as DB 53 days from now. This is probably the most exciting news for me personally.

4. Vishal clearly articulated his vision for ongoing intellectual renewal, and I got a feeling it resonated well with the crowd.


There were a few things about HANA that need attention too.


1.  It is all about HANA for sure. Mobility and cloud got some minor mentions, but guess what – customers have real budgets for those things. Mobility today is not a hard sell – I think SAP needs to focus messaging more on these two.


2. During the innojam – there were 4 tables created in HANA I think. Two were from my team and one from the team that won the innojam. Someone else must have created one more. We had Vitaliy, Harald and me in the room, and 3 SAP HANA experts. There was no visible traction for HANA there. People crowded around River and Gateway, but did not seem to want to deal with HANA.  When asked in keynote to raise hands for those planning to use HANA – a very small number of people obliged. I urge the HANA team at SAP to start actively engaging on SDN and other channels to get this fixed.


3. HANA needs serious datamodelling. Hand written DDL has limitations to scale. SAP needs to actively enhance the Sybase power designer (which I think is the name) and teach the ecosystem how to use it.


4.  Not sure if I heard this correctly, but the Asian customer who implemented HANA seemed to have done it all inhouse. If this is true, it is mighty impressive. But having worked with HANA myself, I cannot visualize how they managed to do this without active participation of SAP (maybe an SI too). I need to find out more.


5. How far does HANA scale ?  So far I have seen the several TB of data examples. But that is not big data in 2011. Can it work with Petabytes?


Just as I mentioned in my SAPPHIRE blog, I fail to understand why SAP is not promoting Gateway actively. I walked around asking people on their opinion on gateway. Very very few know what it is. It is a shame – and SAP should fix it.


I had an opportunity to catch up more with Vishal Sikka over lunch.  Many thanks to Mike Prosceno and Stacy Fish for making that happen.  That conversation was off the record, but I can say one thing for sure. SAP will make HANA work – and SAP could not have got a more passionate guy than Vishal to lead the charge. He knows the problems along the way – and he is fixing them as efficiently as he can.


After lunch meeting with Vishal, we had a blogger meeting with Nicholas Brown – from the mobility side of the house. He is a terrific guy – and an absolute straight shooter. It is a high potential area for SAP and I heard they have been doing well. Nic does not think HTML 5 is the magic bullet every one thinks it will be. He articulated well that there is a class of apps that will do well – like leave requests and time sheets, that BYOD folks will use en-masse. But there will always be a set of users who need native functionality of devices to do more complex things. Plus – the key question is “what is in it for the device makers?”.


There are 50 plus apps in various phases of development – so I believe SAP field sales now have enough ammunition to sell mobility well. They will not have to do a multitude of POCs to get customers to buy the SUP platform probably. But here is the deal – what is the model for the sale? Will you sell the 50K or 100K deals for one app development? or will you sell a whole mobility strategy and make a few millions of sale? I guess they will do both. But each requires a different partnership with ecosystem to make it work. For the large SIs – the strategy route might be more palatable, and for smaller boutiques – the one or two apps might be the better business. But in general – I think mobility has a bright future. I just hope SAP gives it sufficient attention, given the major focus on HANA.


One last point – to make mobility and HANA and cloud a success – SAP cannot do it alone. SAP probably cannot do it with existing partners alone either.  For the type of scale that will move SAP from a 15B company to something bigger and more profitable, and less reliant on maintenance $$ – they need some variation of the AAPL model to get a large pool of developers into the ecosystem.  This does not go well with current way of functioning SAP is used to. But all the leaders know it, and I hope they will figure out a solution. But a problem SAP can solve in near future is to make sure existing partners and customers have access to latest greatest documentation and training on all the new stuff they are coming up with. They cannot have education lag behind innovation by a big margin.


Demojam was the last event of the night.  I am quite amazed by the quality of the demos – very very cool. You should watch them all, and if possible talk to the finalists.  The winning demo was the best I have seen in a few years. Watch the videos and you will like it too.


On that note, I am off to the Wednesday sessions. See you tomorrow.









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

3 thoughts on “SAP Teched 2011 – Monday and Tuesday. Hana, Hana and MORE HANA

  1. Great blog Vijay. Almost could feel the day unfold in LV while reading.

    – HANA goes under BW as DB 53 days from now !! Awsome 🙂
    Many more questions to pop-up now.

    Please keep blogging.



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