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SAP SapphireNow 2012 Walk Thru May 2012

by Andrew White  |  May 16, 2012  |  Comments Off on SAP SapphireNow 2012 Walk Thru May 2012

I was lucky enough to spend a few days at SAP SapphireNow 2012.  As you may know it’s the main SAP user conference (coupled with its user group, ASUG), in North America.  Several thousand users got together to talk SAP.

My overall take away is that there was nothing disruptive introduced at the event.  This is good news.  SAP has been doggedly working on realizing its Hana vision and continues to do this.  In the various Keynotes, a few pointers emerged:

  • “Everything Hana” is the rallying cry across SAP.  Though described as a database, the idea that “all data” can persist in “all memory” and not be hamstrung my disc is totally disruptive.  But, even Hasso Plattner had to remind everyone that “moving Business Suite into Hana won’t be disruptive”.
  • Increased emphasis to current users that established investments in on premise solutions were not being dropped, despite the apparent shift of the planet to “everything Hana”
  • Reinforced clarity around the idea that Hana provides a unified model – not a separation of OLAP and OLTP.  This is one of the sources of disruption.  I had written (with my colleague, Mark Beyer, some years ago that Enterprise Information Management would provide the necessary environment for transactions and analytics to re-merge.  In memory is not the only way, but it sure is an effective way).

Some new products were announced.  I heard something about a new Sales and Operations Planning offering.  This might be SAP’s third attempt at this space.  I used to cover SCM so I remember some early efforts that didn’t pan out as planned by SAP.

This led me to a new ah ha.  One area where Hana is NOT being pointed at is the world of B2B.  And I don’t mean EDI/transactions.  My early Gartner life led me to formalize some thinking around Enterprise Application design versus Multienterprise Application design.  In the formative days of collaborative planning, some vendors tried to layer a browser onto an enterprise/ERP app.  This was never scalable.  A few vendors (I worked for one) developed very earyly a wholly new data model, one that did not have enterprise as the primary key but in fact a shared key.  This shared key is what allowed two or more enterprises to view their shared or common data, on which joint business planning takes place, in their own language – without the massive cost of traditional data integration.  This multienterprise data model was the key to high scale and automated workflow in support of business collaboration.  The economy blew up.  All went on hold.  Now Hana comes along.  Why not put into Hana a multienterprise data model, and a multienterprise P&L, and provide the most scalable collaboration framework?  No sign of it at Sapphire – but I wasn’t looking at the SCM space.  Then again, this could be massively disruptive to “ERP as we know it”.  Maybe that’s why we won’t see it for a while.

During the Hasso/Vishal’s Q&A it also became to me that Hana will be a single girl.  Several questions from the floor suggested a number of folks were not able to get their head around the idea that Hana combined OLTP and OLAP, and as such, there is no need or reliance on disk.  Since everything we all know and love resides on disk today, how does all this new stuff work again?  Well, Hasso said more than once that Hana’s high scalability promise is delivered when the “thing” in memory is homogenous.  This is totally true.  But, to what degree is the “before” homogenous?  What I mean to say is, how homogenous are the application landscapes being put into Hana?  If an enterprise has before Hana a heterogeneous landscape, Hana along does not magically make it homogenous.  So effort has to be made – as it would when the world lived (lives) on disk.  This effort includes Master Data Management and more broadly, information governance.  But the point is that Hana’s sweet spot is not this space; it is when all the data lends itself to a single model.  So it came to me – Hana will not get married any time soon to disk.  She loves to be free.  And she will run fastest when unlimbered from disk.  She will be a single girl.

I also saw a demo of the integration between SAP Information Steward and SAP Master Data Governance.  It has made some progress, and some more progress is needed.  SAP continues to make progress toward a data stewardship application, and possibly towards a more unified architecture.

Good time – glad I went.

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Category: sap  

Andrew White
Research VP
8 years at Gartner
22 years IT industry

Andrew White is a Distinguished Analyst and VP. His roles include Chief of Research and Content Lead for Data and Analytics. His main research focus is data and analytics strategy, platforms, and governance. Read Full Bio

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