SAP Influencer Summit – 2011, It’s all about the cloud

I almost missed the SAP Influencer Summit in Boston this year due to a last minute official trip across the oceans . But things worked out, and I managed to get back to Boston to attend the Influencer summit .  In fact the Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt to Boston had quite a few SAP folks – employees and bloggers and analysts.


Not the best timing for the event


Monday night, a few of us had dinner with Jim Snabe, SAP’s Co-CEO. Since that conversation is under NDA, I will pass commenting on it.  Hopefully in a couple of months, we should be able to discuss everything in more detail. We also caught up with Sanjay Poonen over drinks on Monday night, and had an enjoyable conversation on what is shaking in the SAP world. Sanjay is a no-nonsense executive, and is a pleasure to work with in these events. Being in a quiet period, there was very little he could tell us that we did not already know. Which brings up an important point – why hold a summit in December, so close to the Madrid SAPPHIRE if there isn’t a whole lot of new information that can be shared? Would it make sense to consider spacing these events apart so that SAP as well as influencers get some more value out of these interactions? Maybe February is a better time to do this than December.


Nothing new on HANA


Honestly, I was afraid there will be an overdose of HANA in this event.  Thankfully, that did not happen.  Both in casual conversations and well as in Keynotes and other official discussions – SAP focused less on HANA and more on cloud offerings.  On HANA – there really is not a whole lot more to be talked about, since the talk is already a couple of generations ahead of action . So I am totally a happy camper at this situation – and by SAPPHIRE Orlando in 2012, I expect to see solid execution.


Mobility and the “small” developer


We had a chance to sit down with Raj Nathan on Mobility topics. About 90% of the discussion was about the role small – as in independent – developers can play in this space.  I don’t know Raj all that well, but I came away impressed. Some one else in his position – possibly including me – would have hit his head on the table, and then kicked us out of the room 🙂  Raj gave us a patient hearing.  SAP gets it – they do understand that somehow they need to empower large droves of developers to create stuff on SAP. There is no push back on that from any of the executives. However, there is also no indication on how/when this will be done.


SAP is a big company, and mother ships do not turn on a dime. It is a big shift in how they work, and consequently it will take some time. But it is also theirs to lose if they sit on their hands for too long. There are two talent pools to attract – the couple of million existing developers in the ecosystem who work for customers and partners, and the untold millions who develop for others like Apple, SFDC and so on. The former is easier since they are captive, but this is a group which has limited ideas in general on mobile applications.  And for the latter, the deal needs to be sweeter than developing for Apple to woo them away.  It is not going to be an easy task for SAP.


SAP has done the right thing for HANA – Anne Hardy’s team has managed to give free access for 90 days to developers. This has been well appreciated by the developer community. However, to close the loop – a longer term plan that addresses cost, IP, monetization etc needs to be addressed quickly. And not just for HANA – but for Sybase, Gateway and everything else.


Here are a couple of videos that JDOD guys shot – that addresses these issues.






Right from the keynote and through out the 2 days, SAP was on  message that they are serious about cloud. And they were out in full force. Peter Lorenz and Greg Tomb led the charge on cloud, and I must say they did an excellent job, despite all the constraints they had to deal with due to not being able to talk about SuccessFactors acquisiton.


SAP is going after all sizes of companies with their cloud offerings – right from B1 on the cloud for the smaller shops, to ByD for cloud ERP for medium shops, to LOB apps for existing instal base of Business Suite.


There was a lot of apprehension after SuccessFactors news came out on whether ByD will die. All indications SAP gave in Boston seemed to indicate that it will not die. SAP said it has not decided on Career OD, but that is probably just hedging comments till the SuccessFactors deal closes.


I especially liked Greg Tomb’s position on how SAP will go to market for OD . He is hiring hundreds of dedicated sellers for OD. Their incentives will be on bookings (unlike perpetual revenue billings) for OD alone. This is excellent, and assures focus on OD, since existing sales force might not want to waste their time on OD if they can sell the bigger ticket items in their bag.


Snabe mentioned that SAP is on target to hit 1000 ByD customers by end of the year. While that is impressive compared to what they have done in past, it is no where near impressive compared to SFDC etc in terms of growth. So with the new sales force coming in – I am curious to see if we see big increases in the OD footprint for SAP.


Where do partners fit in for SAP’s OD strategy. I don’t exactly know since I left early. However there are two logical areas for them to fit in. One is to build add-on’s to ByD and LOB OD solutions. The other is to build back end integration to On premises systems. With the SDK coming up next year, this is an area to watch. I will post updates as I find out more.


SAP seems to be making rapid strides on infrastructure side too, building out their data centers. If I understood correctly – Apparently with the exception of China where they will have hosting partners, they want to host everything OD themselves. Maybe B1 hosting will be done with partners too – I cannot make out clearly from my notes. Hopefully someone can clarify.


Sethu M, SAP’s deputy CTO, offered to show me the new S&P OD solution. But we could not match schedules and hence I did not get to see it yet. I am not convinced yet on feasibility of S&OP on cloud, but I am extremely curious to find more details. As soon as possible, I will get this info from SAP.


As soon as I landed back home from Boston, I saw the news of SalesForce buying Rypple, and getting John Wookey to run it.  Here is a short rant on that.



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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