SAP Watch

Oct 27 2009   1:50PM GMT

Jon Reed: SAP to start paying more attention to R/3 users

Peter Bochner Profile: Pastepotpete

Is a relational database management system just a glorified storage facility?

That was what SAP CTO Vishal Sikka implied when he sat down at SAP TechEd 2009 with two editors from SearchSAP.com to discuss a range of trends. He said, “You don’t need a relational database management system for analytics applications,” pointing to BusinessObjects Explorer and its use of the NetWeaver Business Warehouse Accelerator as an example.

Sikka is the first CTO in the history of SAP (prior to that, Hasso Plattner held that role unofficially) and at TechEd he made a good impression on SAP Mentor Jon Reed, who said of Sikka in his post-TechEd blog What I liked (and didn’t like about SAP TechEd2009):

“I welcome his honesty regarding SAP’s product rollouts. Sikka did not try to blur the lines to give an appearance that ByD is in general release. When asked, he accurately described ByD as in “limited release” in several countries.”

Reed went on to write in his blog that the most compelling things SAP has to offer are either easier to do, or only possible to do, on ERP 6.0/NetWeaver 7.x. The use of the NetWeaver Business Warehouse Accelerator for in-memory database capabilities is one example. Reed writes that a 4.x ERP customer can run a separate BW 7.0 server to access BWA, but they must upgrade their BW instance to 7.0 to make that possible.

However, Reed concluded that, based on what he heard during private SAP Mentor sessions, SAP is shifting internally from an overemphasis on upgrading to SAP ERP 6.0 to paying more attention to the existing 4.6C/4.7 installed base. Good news for those R/3 users.

As for me, what didn’t I like about TechEd? Pretty much the same thing everyone else beefed about: the fact that every presentation included a slide with that odious “disclaimer legalese” about forward-looking statements. Remember the Bobby Fuller Four classic, “I Fought the Law and the Law Won”? Evidently the same thing goes for corporate lawyers. We fought ‘em, and they won.

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  • EXPERTreed
    Peter, thanks for the comments about my post. Sikka has some pretty large shoes to fill with Plattner gone, and while I for one will miss Plattner's legendary scribbling on the white board, I do like Sikka's willingness to engage honestly with his constituents. We had a private Mentor meeting with Sikka where he fielded questions about SAP's future with a lot of forthrightness, and his honest comments about ByD were actually at the main public press conference. To me, the big thing SAP has on its plate right now is follow through. For example, as you noted, I was impressed in my private sessions with SAP product managers to see a different emphasis on providing important functionality to 4.x users (like BI tools and UI enhancements) without having to upgrade. So much of what we heard the last couple of years from SAP was about ERP 6.0 bells and whistles which implies upgrading along the way. So it was a nice contrast, but the products I saw are not yet out there - nor are many of SAP's most interesting applications in terms of cloud-based apps. That means follow through will be important. It will be a defining year or two for SAP as we see whether some of these "pockets of innovation" that we see at DemoJam and elsewhere at TechEd take center stage. One other interesting note is the individual NetWeaver developer licenses, a topic which SAP Mentors have been pursuing with SAP (and in fruitful dialogue on) were announced in conjunction with TechEd Vienna. Another story to watch - will this spur more developer-based innovation, and if not, what other obstacles stand in the way that must be addressed?
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