Sep 15 2011

SAP TechEd Keynote – Final Review

Categories: 2011 SAP TechEd Dave Rathbun @ 4:48 pm

I published an abridged version of my keynote review already. This post will contain more details on a number of different subjects, but still almost in one-liner format.

In no particular order…

This was the 15th anniversary of the conference. There are over 6,000 folks directly attending, and thousands more attending virtually.

The Sybase TechWave conference is co-located here at TechEd this year. So far we have not decided to co-locate the Business Objects conference, but discussions are definitely being held in this area. If you want to have input on this decision, let me know and I will get your feedback to the right people.

The first evening keynote with Dr. Jane McGonigal was fascinating, and for that one I wrote a separate post about the concept of gamification in IT.

The morning keynote included a short video from Hasso. (He is much more interesting and entertaining in person when he’s free to go off-script!) This video was the first of many times I heard the phrase “non-disruptive” used in a sentence. Hasso’s point was that HANA has become proven and tested on a number of extensive customer evaluations over the past 18 months, and now it’s time to start using it. I believe his phrasing was something like HANA is not only viable but extremely desirable.

Vishal Sikka had a number of comments that I found interesting. First, he said his focus was on renewing the SAP suite while at the same time simplifying the system. HANA clearly plays a role here (more on that in a moment).

Vishal’s three focus areas were mobility (everywhere), cloud, and in-memory, which sounded just like the message from the last two years. On the one hand there wasn’t a lot of excitement being generated with this repeated message. But on the other hand, stability is something that IT looks for.

Speaking of stable, BI 4.0 should be out on Friday. That message was loud and clear, from all levels of SAP.

Vishal touched on three major events that took place earlier this year, including the Google purchase of Motorolla, the resignation of Steve Jobs, and HP’s decision to abandon the tablet and personal systems market.

Dr. Christoph Kollatz took the stage to address the question, “Where are we on Hana since sapphire?” He said it had been ten months since the launch, and 3 months sing HANA has become generally available. HANA has the fastest growing pipeline that any product from SAP has ever had. In another briefing one of the SAP executives said that the HANA pipeline is measured in thousands, not hundreds of customers.

Why the continued focus on HANA? It’s not just about performance, it’s about the simplification that can come about as a result of the performance. Vishal referenced Nicholas Negroponte’s vision on one slide which said:

“Bits are increasingly replacing atoms
Value is being created by dissolving layers and structures
Fueled by a cycle of connectedness, disintermediation and ease-of-use”

What does all of that mean? Because HANA has pushed the performance envelope, eventually all of the different layers can be dissolved. The apps and the analytics will all run on the same platform. Eventually. :)

Of course we had a couple of customer success stories. What made these different was they were no longer showing proof of concept results but live systems.

First up was Yodobashi, a retailer from Japan. They have millions of customers, and a large percentage of those customers participate in a customer loyalty program. It used to take days to run the incentive payment process. After switching to HANA they can generate the same results in a matter of seconds.

Later on during the week in a session with Steve Lucas he took that concept a step further. He proposed a system where a retailer could instantly gain access to a customer’s purchase history at the point of sale system. Based on prior purchases and a number of other criteria, the retailer could tailor a special offer that fits his behavior. This is possible – even with tens of millions or tens of billions of transactions – because of the speed of HANA.

Next up was Nongfu Springs, one of the largest bottled water (and other beverages) companies in China. They had three goals leading to their HANA deployment, and they were able to deliver on all three. Reports were 200-300 times faster than before. They converted 50 stored procedures from Oracle to HANA, reducing run times from 24 hours to 37 seconds after they were optimized. And finally they are able to access data in real time, as their ETL processes no longer incur a 24 hour delay. (Watch a video from Nongfu Springs.)

With this and other “improvement” stories I have to wonder: how much was a result of HANA, and how much came about because of new strategies or processes that were created during the conversion?

Next up? Is HANA better or worse than chocolate cake? Roll the video

More HANA, the next release due out in November will support BW.

Next topic Net weaver. I tuned out. Sorry, but it’s not my area.

Next topic: BI 4.0 – time to pay attention again. There wasn’t anything new since last year, or since the BI 4.0 launch party that took place earlier this year. Once again they touted the total overhaul that was done on the BI products, which I am sure contributed to the lengthy ramp-up process. I for one am not disappointed that it took so long to get to the GA date, as I remember the fiasco (and no, that is not too strong of a word) that was the original 4.0 release back in the late 1990’s. Vishal did reconfirm 9/16 will GA BI 4.0, so look for it tomorrow. 8-)

Later in the keynote the “non-disruptive” nature of HANA was mentioned once again. I think SAP is really trying hard to overcome some issues in the past, where upgrades to the core were time consuming and – dare I say it – highly disruptive to enterprise operations.

Overall this year did not offer any really revolutionary new concepts. HANA is fast. Mobility is hot. Clouds are around somewhere. Sybase did show up a lot more in the smaller briefings, both because of the new release of Sybase Unwired Platform (SUP) as well as their Afaria product getting more interest.

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