By now everyone has been affected by at least one aspect of the advanced Internet technology dubbed ‘Web 2.0‘; it’s the technology that lends a personal touch to what would otherwise be cold information.
This video may help the people out there who are not so familiar with Web 2.0 appreciate this “transition” just a little more.
Person-to-person contact, a major theme in Web 2.0 and in this video, could potentially benefit SAP enterprise software through personalization and most of all comfort. SAP has waited before picking up on these trends until now because blogs and wikis that have the Ajax style functionality have proven their worth by the test of time.
During Kagermann’s keynote he mentioned something about failures in the past in regards to their applications. He goes on to talk about how SAP is supposedly going to slowly and accurately develop material in the future so that everything produced is a success. Of course this kind of talk could be interpreted as “I’m sorry, we’ll do better next time”, but this new adoption of communication truly seems to be a step in the right direction.
In his blog, Michael Cote writes, “I’m beginning to think that ‘Web 2.0′ is set to be the ‘SOA’ for [at least] this year and [possibly for] upcoming years”. Cote also points out that SAP has waited a long time to release this technology and when they launch these applications their users will be asking about what “web 4.0″ has to offer. I agree with Cote, there are new trends that will make their presence known, but to be fair SAP is utilizing the core features of the Web 2.0 revolution that have already proven their worth.
Even though SAP’s applications that utilize these Web 2.0 functions have received mixed reviews, one thing is clear: SAP is serious about Web 2.0.
Read more about how SAP plans to utilize Web 2.0 for the SOA.
The Web 2.0 video, Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us was created by Dr. Michael Wesch, assistant professor of cultural anthropology at Kansas State University.
There have been whispers about SAP’s new ERP on-demand offering for quite some time, but precious little official information was available. Now the cat is out of the bag… Almost.
SAP CEO Henning Kagermann and the top execs all mentioned it in their speeches and interviews at Sapphire 2007, but the product is still largely an unknown. AMR Research and others have nailed down some basic facts:
- It targets the 50-500 user crowd.
- It is based on the NetWeaver platform, adhering to the SOA by Design mantra.
- It shares services repository with the Business Suite.
- It has a set of unique application process components for common business tasks such as order entry and invoicing.
So far so good. But why the sudden change to an on-demand model, especially in light of the luke-warm reception of last year’s CRM on-demand? And what’s the deal with the “try before you buy” feature Hasso Plattner and others were talking about? We asked Jeff Stiles, senior vice president of Solution Marketing at SAP to clarify three basic questions:
1. Why hosted? Did people ask for this, or is there a bigger strategic vision behind this move?
The new solution […] will be targeted to serve customers who have not traditionally been buyers of enterprise suites. One key barrier for these midsize companies has been the lack of or limited number of IT staff to implement, configure and manage enterprise applications. Customers with this profile have clearly told us that an on-demand delivery model will serve them well.
2. Is SAP planning to make more products available with this model?
SAP, along with our partners, provide a number of products that feature various hosting options, including traditional hosting, on-demand and outsourcing. We offer a broad range of on-demand offerings today, including CRM and SRM. We see on-demand as one viable and important delivery topology along with traditional on-premise approaches, and we intend to continue making the right products available with this as a deployment option.
3. How extensive is the “try before you buy” feature going to be?
We’re working actively with early customers to understand exactly what they’re looking for in determining the scope of evaluating “A1S” as well as how to best enable them to do so. We expect to offer a fully functional system configured to individual customer needs for their evaluation. Customers have also told us that it is very important for them to then be able to move that system into production once they’ve seen it, tried it, and bought it.
There was a lot of buzz about the upcoming NetWeaver 7.1 at Sapphire the other week. Releasing in Q3 this year, it’s positioned as the springboard for really getting into SOA in the real world. NetWeaver 7.1 is a major milestone for SAP that packs plenty of juice, with a full Enterprise Services Repository which enables users to dig into ES composite use and creation, as well as laying the groundwork for SAP’s business process initiative.
Simply put, SAP’s Enterprise SOA bandwagon is on the move. But at the same time, SAP’s A1S on-demand ERP solution was one of the other big stories of Sapphire. Given the luke-warm reception of SAP CRM on-demand last year, it may seem a bit puzzling why SAP would double down on both sides of the fence. That’s why it was interesting to read Brad Shimmin’s take on the SOA vs. SaaS debate.
Conflict entertains, he said, but the sensible thing is to use SOA as a foundation for SaaS.
“Using an Enterprise Service Bus, SOA solutions can transform disparate data formats, mediate different protocols, and orchestrate transactions. Imagine if an enterprise that employs SOA internally were also to use a SaaS application, say Salesforce.com. That enterprise could use its ESB to connect Salesforce.com to its ERP or CRM systems. Salesforce.com, of course, has been shooting for this goal since 2005. But the real bang won’t come until SaaS customers themselves maintain a SOA infrastructure internally.”
In other words, these concepts are hardly mutually exclusive. That’s certainly food for thought in light of SAP’s stated goal of chasing both rabbits simultaneously.
The natural high point of Sapphire 2007 was SAP CEO Henning Kagermann's keynote, and the message was clear: SAP is getting serious about this Web 2.0 business. Knowledge sharing, collaboration and self-service features are the tune of the future, which coincidentally goes hand in hand with the Harmony initiative we mentioned the other day. Social networking, wiki-style content building and similar user-driven activities are growing in popularity overall, so it's not surprising that SAP is embracing the Web 2.0 movement.
Basically, we're looking at a shift from a top-down, technically rigid structure to a more fluid, informal way of thinking with a certain trust in that people can find workable solutions to their problems. There are examples where this type of individual empowerment has worked out great, but it's not necessarily a given (browse a few controversial topics on Wikipedia for examples of information integrity breach). By and large, however, it makes a lot of sense and we'll be following this closely in the year ahead.
Kagermann also talked about the new Business Process Platform (BPP) and how they've now expanded it to the whole product portfolio (with Business One being the only exception.) That's in line with SAP's previously stated focus on business processes as well as Hasso Plattner's keynote presentation on Monday.
A1S, the new on demand ERP solution that has been hinted at for months, was finally unveiled. Scaled for customers with 50-500 users, the product bridges the gap between Business One and All-in-One. It is NetWeaver-based with the same underpinnings as All-in-One, making it a natural fit in SAP's next-gen product portfolio. Further, it has a "try it, then buy it" feature that gives potential customers a chance to see what A1S can do for them before cutting a sizable check. Stay tuned as news editor Jon Franke dives deeper into this topic next week.
Sapphire has been a little odd this year. Not just because Shai Agassi quit and left a sizable keynote spot open (since filled by Philip Lay, managing director of The Chasm Group Advisors,) but because of the uneven pacing. Rather than start with a big bang with all the key announcements on day one, most of the good stuff was withheld until the second day when Henning Kagermann finally took the stage.
But let's not complain too loudly; there were some interesting tidbits to be found. For example, Harmony is an internal collaboration tool that help SAP workers workdwide connect today. It's not unlike IBM's Lotus Connections, and Jeff Nolan said he covered Harmony last year, but we got a glimpse of what's in store for later this year when regular users get to play with these features… And judging by the application product demo, it's pretty darn slick. Assistant Editor Eric Samuels is on the case and hope to have more details on this shortly, so stay tuned.
Another point of interest was SAP and Microsoft's deepened partnership regarding Duet. We've long said Duet is promising, but a tad light on features. If the promises made here today hold water, that may soon not be the case as we look towards Duet 2.0 in 2008 and even Duet 3.0, slated for the next release of SAP's business suite (which will also include Microsoft's next gen Office, including Sharepoint). But for the more immediate future, Duet 1.5 and its Q4 2007 release seems to be the big game in town.
Speaking of Duet, one perhaps less than earth-shattering but notable announcement was the inclusion of Duet as a pre-loaded feature on HP ProLiant servers. There are no new features or clever synergies in play, but it seems like a case where ease of use and availability could make a big difference in helping Duet dig its heels in over time.
Read Sapphire 2007 quick takes, part 2 here.
Veteran site expert Axel Angeli isn't known for shying away from controversy, most recently proven in his guest column "Shai is gone — Hurray!". Needless to say, this controversial entry into the Shai Agassi resignation aftermath has sparked quite a bit of debate and more than one set of raised hackles in the SAP world.
Naeem Hashmi, CRO of Information Frameworks, is another veteran expert with a few things to say about Shai debacle. His verdict is perhaps a bit less abrasive than Axel's, but there are certain similarities. Here's his guest column:
Tribute to Shai – Psychology of a Visionary
Almost two years back at the Sapphire '05, a few colleagues asked me: How were the keynotes? My reply: Most keynotes were as usual, but Shai Agassi's keynote was a 'recital'. I sensed then that the euphoria of NetWeaver implementation is wearing down the 'Mind of a Visionary.' Real implementation of NetWeaver, though will be a success, is a long proposition and the visionary mind of Shai just could not recite the same slides over and over, year after year to almost the very same crowd.
Visionaries starve for new food for thought. Visionaries have a very small 'digestive' tract. They are eager to 'chew' the next unknown 'food for thought' even when present food is still being swallowed, so to speak. That's really my comment meant about Shai's Keynote at the Sapphire '05… The energy, the excitement on Shai's face was not coming naturally from inside but was much like a directed recital.
A full scale Services Oriented SAP implementation will span several years of hard work with many years of co-existence with good, ol' R/3 modules. This long path was just too much of ESA regurgitation for a visionary mind. SAP now has a good platform and a solid module-oriented 'German-disciplined-team' that will provide rock solid SAP/ESA solutions in the years to come.
And for now, the 'Mind of a Visionary' is getting ready for his next swim in the uncharted waters of a more pressing challenge facing the world, the energy and climate change. And I am sure the 'Mind of a Visionary' will be back in full speed and ready to 'chew' long new 'foods for thought' and the outcome will make significant difference for the generations to come, much more than the ESOA.
Much as Shai is a likeable guy in person, perhaps it is best for SAP and its customers that things played out the way they did? Or will his departure mean that SAP's innovative streak has come to an end, to the joy and delight of the competition? You be the judge. Sound off below or send us an email — we're always interested to hear from you.
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I’m Eric Samuels, the new assistant site editor for SearchSAP.com. I’m a recent graduate of Keene State College in New Hampshire (Go Owls?). Ever since my first Apple II GS I’ve had a love for computers and technology; just try to keep me off a computer at least 8 hours a day!
I’m extremely excited to be working with the searchSAP team and covering SAP related news. Feel free to contact me with SAP related press releases, news articles, comments & questions, or maybe to just say hello. I’m looking forward to hearing from all of you.
"I remember five years ago, on the day I joined the SAP board, one of you asked me in a town hall meeting 'why am I at SAP?' The answer I gave was that 'I came to SAP to work and fell in love with the company'."
"I will now move on to my next challenge in life, hoping to apply what I have learned at SAP to create solutions for various problems that affect us all as a global tribe. I truly hope that my next set of challenges will be able to match the immense experience I gathered through my years at SAP. I leave the company with a heavy heart, feeling that I leave a home, yet I also feel that I am not leaving the family SAP has become for me. I hope to play some role in our community, and stay close to all of you – I am now your biggest fan."
We will continue to update you on related news as it unfolds.
SAP just released a statement confirming that Shai Agassi will resign, effective April 1, 2007. Hasso Plattner, chairman of the SAP Supervisory Board and company founder, had this to say:
"While we regret Shai's decision to leave, we congratulate him on his record of achievement at SAP. Shai drove the company's successful platform strategy, led innovation that helped SAP grow and continue market leadership, as well as set the stage for the future of business software. I had shared with Shai my plan that he should become successor to Henning Kagermann as a co-CEO for SAP. With the extension of Henning's contract to 2009, it became apparent that Shai was not comfortable committing to a 10- to 15-year period, which was not in keeping with his personal career timeline. Given this, I made the recommendation to the Supervisory Board that we change our plans and now adjust SAP's executive management team responsibilities."
We'll keep you updated as this story develops, and will have something for tomorrow on SearchSAP.com.Jon Franke News Editor