Tag Archives: SAP

How to follow all things SAP HANA related (and more)

Recently I’ve heard from many people that they’re switching to Twitter for their source of news. Why? Because it does all the work for them. Many of the tweets that I follow normally supply a link to a blog or article worth reading. The only downside is the information overload and the excessive amount of “noise” that you need to get through to find the relevant information. Often, Google news (and web) search doesn’t cut it either. So, how do we effectively get through this noise? Here is where a service called Topsy comes in. It is a social search search engine and I think it helps a ton for finding relevant SAP news. For example:

Find news and information on HANA:
http://topsy.com/s?q=SAP+HANA

Find news and information on SAP BWA:
http://topsy.com/s?q=SAP+BWA

And my favorite, all news and information on SAP BWA, HANA, and In-Memory technology.
http://topsy.com/s?q=SAP+HANA+OR+SAP+BWA+OR+SAP+In-Memory

No more need to constantly check your twitter updates, or your RSS, or your feed burner. Just search here. I’m trying to think of ways how I can use the API to provide an even more meaningful way to bring these topics to the people who care. I think there should be a one-stop shop for finding all news regarding in memory computing from SAP. More on that to come…

HANA Architecture – Key Take-Aways

I just listened to Marc Bernard’s Webinar about the first looks at the architecture around SAP’s HANA. This is the first document I’ve seen that really makes sense out of HANA from a technical perspective. I’ve also worked with Marc in my time at SAP and really enjoy his ability to clearly present technical information to all sorts of audiences. You can check out the PDF and full recorded version of the webinar at the following: http://bit.ly/dU2bQY

I thought it would be worthy to address some of the key technical take aways from the Webinar:

  1. There are two data stores in the In-Memory Computing Engine (IMCE) – row-based and column-based
  2. Both data stores will be stored in memory (column-based will be very similar to existing BWA technology)
  3. The way data is modeled in HANA is via the “Information Modeler”. It is only used for the column based data store
  4. The Information Modeler is built on the Eclipse IDE. I’m going to assume it’s built using Eclipse EMF.
  5. It supports SQL (JDBC/ODBC), MDX (ODBO), and BICS (SQL DBC)
  6. Data comes in either via BO Data Services or Sybase Replicator

Some thoughts:

From a technical perspective I really like where the technology is going. The Information Modeler is much more intuitive than any BW interface (i.e. Data Warehousing Workbench) I’ve ever seen. The support for different front-ends opens up the possibility to use virtually anything, and more importantly build your own “Apps”. My one concern is around MDX and multi-dimensional OLAP. MDX is very sluggish and BICS was chosen to replace it in BusinessObjects Enterprise 4.0. I’ve been through the pain of seeing how MDX works when BusinessObjects was first implemented on top of SAP BW. The performance is a huge concern. I’d be very interested to see how BICS is implemented in HANA. I wonder if it creates the same type of Star Transformations that exist in the current BW system. Ya know, those basically unreadable SQL Explain statements?

Note – IMCE is now “SAP In-Memory Database” – See Vitaliy’s post

EDIT: I wrote “row-based” for the data-store. Oops! Thanks @joerglatza for seeing the mistype!

SAP needs to re-think its SME strategy

There’s little to no more buzz generated in today’s web-sphere by SAP’s Business ByDesign.  Let’s travel back a few years back (2007 to be exact) when former SAP CEO Henning Kagermann made the “most important announcement I’ve made in my career.” by announcing SAP Business ByDesign. SAP had set some huge promise for its killer solution to entering the Small-to-Medium Enterprise. More importantly let’s look at the important metrics that came with the annoucement:

“SAP hopes to add 10,000 Business ByDesign customers a year by 2010″

“SAP said that it has spent $500 million over four years with 1000 developers hammering away at the new suite.”

From Leo Apotheker’s interview with eWeek:

“Salesforce has a CRM application. It happens to be that the vast majority of businesses on this planet do a little more than just CRM. Our attempt is to get rid of all these acronyms. Businesses dont really buy acronyms, they buy a processes flow, a business model.”

This was an extremely bold set of statements for a company that has little to no experience in the small to medium sized business run. First, CRM is the absolute LIFEBLOOD of a SME. How do I know? I used to run one and work for one now. Also most SME’s can find open source solutions or easy to use SaaS’s to satisfy their specific needs (like Supply Chain, Project Management, etc). SAP itself is ridden with a plethora of ridiculous acronyms. (i.e. XI, PI, BW, BI, CRM, SRM, SCM, ERP, ECC, R/3, etc…) The absolute kicker of the the whole interview is that he states “Businesses buy a business model”. This is absolutely untrue.  SME’s don’t buy business models, they create them, and in most cases its the reason the SME’s exist in the first place – they redefine existing business models.

So where is Business ByDesign? As of September 2010, it’s at about 80. I’ve always said that SAP should have bought SalesForce.com back when it was “cheap”. SalesForce.com built the product and their company (for that matter) in a much more agile fashion. Even after 11 years, Salesforce.com still only has 150 developers, compared to the 1000 developers SAP threw at Business ByDesign. At the time Salesforce.com was trading at $35 and is now at $115 with a $15B market cap (compared to SAP’s current $62B). Salesforce.com market cap represents nearly a quarter of SAP’s market cap today without being anywhere near profitable on Business ByDesign. Hindsight is 20/20.

I’ll end with this blog post from Infor that I think demonstrates SAP’s need to re-think its strategy: http://blogs.infor.com/insights/2009/02/sorry-sap-we-didnt-mean-to-scare-you.html The same business processes that make enterprise companies like SAP so strong are the same ones that hinder them from enter into new and unknown markets.

Disruptive Technologies Will Save SAP

SAP’s ecosystem is in itself an absolutely massive market. Therefore SAP relies heavily on it’s partners to provide consulting services, conduct sales, and manage large scale implementations. There are three largely disruptive forces to this ecosystem and interestingly they all can be seen in SAP Business Intelligence:

  1. In Memory Technology
  2. Cloud Computing
  3. Mobile Applications

In Memory Technology – There is a huge market for OLAP and data-warehousing . The BI market is a multi-billion dollar industry. The in-memory technology (BWA and HANA initially) is largely disruptive to the way we store and report on data. SAP’s CTO Vishal Sikka commented on this by saying:

Together with our partners and customers, SAP is breaking down the boundaries between real-time events and real-time business decisions

SAP has made a strategic goal to eventually replace all reporting in the enterprise by use of the HANA (High-Performance Analytical Appliance). Many of my blog posts will centered around the evolution of this.

Cloud Computing – The buzz around cloud computing is absolutely crazy right now and for good reason. Unfortunately there are huge concerns for large enterprises to productively adopt the technology. For example: Big name firms form alliance to drive cloud standards Interestingly there is a large market for non-productive solutions, such as pre-sales, testing, proof of concept, etc. What’s even more interesting, SAP itself has been “eating its own dogfood” and has been utilizing cloud services for nearly 3+ years now:

Mobile Applications - Mobile applications represent a fundamentally different way that we interact with software. In enterprise ERP we often see feature rich (and subsequently clunky) applications. This is as SAP says “a game changer” as it not only means that there is a whole new way of developing software, but also their is a renewed focused on how we use enterprise BI applications.

So why will these save SAP? Three reasons:

  1. In-Memory: Other database/warehousing solutions are much faster than SAP’s current offering (such as NoSQL, Hadoop, MapReduce, etc) In-memory speeds this up.
  2. Cloud: IT infrastructure costs have grown enormously out of control. Cloud reduces that.
  3. Mobile: The adoption of mobile is quickly making itself into mainstream enterprise. Business is now done on the go. Mobile aids that.

The convergence of many of these technologies represents both a scary and opportunistic time for myself and the technologies SAP supports. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out and I’m glad that SAP has embraced disruption.