Redbull migrates BW to HANA – I am suitably impressed

SAP allowed some of us bloggers to interact with Christian Stoxreiter of Redbull. They just finished migrating their BW system to HANA. We will see him during Vishal’s keynote tomorrow I think explaining in more detail. I am a big fan of Christian now after he made the comment “We want to be dynamic and flexible, but we are NOT stupid. I know the difference between marketing slides and actual technology limitations”.


There is a lot that impressed me with this .


Redbull has been an SAP customer for 11 years. They have ECC, CRM and BW. The BW system which is 1.5 TB in size was moved to HANA platform and now the data size is 300 GB. What is even more impressive is that 200 GB out of this is in row model, which means once the data models are rationalized – it will get even smaller.


It took just 10 days to migrate BW to HANA. Of course this included working night shifts and all, and had the best of SAP techies on the job. The relationship between SAP and Redbull has been at board level from SAP, with Vishal Sikka being involved directly.  But even then, that is quite a short period to pull this off.


Redbull did not see a big improvement in query performance because they were already using BWA.  Moreover, they found that HANA does not have all the features that BWA gave them. But they think this is ok, because SAP is commited to working with them to put in features in future revisions of HANA. However, ETL performance improved in some cases from 50 minutes to 2 minutes.  This is a big value add for them since their total ETL time to get global data from 39 countries to a single BW instance was 32 hours or so.


Redbull thinks HANA is a great investment for them. They are not doing HANA for just BW alone. They want to influence SAP on Trade Promotions Management on HANA. They also have key areas in ECC where they want SAP to make things better. Redbull thinks they can influence SAP due to the first mover advantage. I think they are thinking smart here – sounds like a good strategy to me too.


Redbull’s BW on HANA is running in parallel to their disk based BW system now, and there is no clear answer yet from SAP on when they can put BW on HANA as stand alone without running parallel. But apparently that decision will be taken by next Monday on the time frame. Redbull is fully aware of limitations in HA/DR etc, and made an educated investment and they believe that it will pay off in spades down the line. I think this is pretty smart of them since it is a product that is gaining rapid market share ac, and will face an information explosion. My making an investment now, they will be well placed to concentrate on business without worrying about handling all the data that comes in future, including unstructured data, social media feeds etc.


Redbull has a clear vision for ECC running on HANA in future, with no aggregate tables etc. Again – smart in my opinion, since this is key to get SAP to create cutting edge new innovations on the core.


I have been fairly critical of SAP on several aspects of HANA. But this one is different – and I am glad to say SAP did an excellent job, as did Redbull. Good luck, and I am eager to see how BW on HANA will evolve. Maybe we will get more in keynote tomorrow.




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.








Sunday at SAPTeched 2011 – It is all about Innojam

On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I took the first flight out of PHX to LAS to join fellow mentors and other SAP enthusiasts at SAPTeched.  I was happy to see people choosing to fly on this day – it sends a strong message to the world that Terrorism will NEVER win.


The day was all about Innojam , and Innojam is all about gamification this year. Mario started us with a good overview of what the concept is, and Sethu M did a good overview of SAP strategy.


I was part of last year’s innojam too, and its previous incarnation called process slam. SAP has listened to feedback, and there was marked improvement from previous years.  I would really like less PPT and lectures and more action in innojams, since the rest of the week is anyway PPT packed. We spent quite a bit of time this year too – although it was less than prior years. Next year, SAP should consider timing out people who make pitches that take more than 2 minutes or so. There were times when 50% of the room was just posting on twitter – including me – and not paying attention to what was going on in the room. Food looked better than last year, but some of us still ate from outside.


If there is one thing SAP should be shouting from rooftops – that is their Gateway offering. It is the most awesome innovation I have seen from SAP in a while, and more customers can use it than almost any other technology I can think of. I hope to see Vishal doing this in keynote, and not just talking about HANA.


We have more than 10 teams competing in innojam, and after the best dinner I had at Vegas – I got to be part of an innojam idea too. We are using HANA, BI 4.0, ABAP and Mobility to pull off gamification. And it has been nothing short of fun to say the least. The dinner conversation have to be left private for now – but I will definitely go out any  time with this gang. I don’t think I ever had a better night in Vegas ever. Please follow #sapteched for some fun twitter streams yestreday, and more for rest of the week.


There are 2 major activities for me  for Monday .


1. Attending Mobility deepdive


2. Finishing up innojam idea and presenting it at the final – thanks to a team of rockstars, this is a piece of cake.  If this team actually works on a real project together, Mike Krigsman will probably start blogging more on IT Success stories instead of failures 🙂


And finally – many thanks for SAP for inviting me to this event, and paying for registration and hotel.