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.