April 26, 2007  6:25 PM

Sapphire 2007 quick takes, part 2

Posted by: ITKE
a1s, harmony, netweaver, SAP

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.

Finally, take note that the "my" in "mySAP" has disappeared. As a result, "mySAP ERP 2005" has been renamed to "SAP ERP 6.0". The change is in name only with no additional features.

Matt Danielsson

April 24, 2007  6:30 PM

Sapphire 2007 quick takes

Posted by: ITKE
duet, harmony, microsoft, SAP, sapphire

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.

Matt Danielsson

April 12, 2007  3:40 PM

Shai's resignation — good or bad?

Posted by: ITKE
resign, SAP

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.

Matt Danielsson

April 10, 2007  1:41 PM

Podcast challenge: Great SAP Leaders Among Us

Posted by: ITKE
bw, SAP

Have you or your team faced a gnarly BI/BW project? Then we want to hear about it! Check out our latest contest where you submit a brief podcast (less than 5 minutes) explaining how you overcame the challenge. 

Great SAP Leaders Among Us is your chance to shine, as well as a chance to win a video iPod or one of several $50 iTunes gift certificates. Never done a podcast before? No worries, we have the tools and directions you need to score a winner right on the contest page. 

Matt Danielsson

March 29, 2007  1:05 PM

New SearchSAP Assistant Site Editor

Posted by: ITKE

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.

Eric Samuels
Assistant Editor

March 29, 2007  11:12 AM

Shai Agassi says goodbye to employees

Posted by: ITKE
resign, SAP

Shai Agassi personally wrote a letter on the SAP Network Blogs that included an e-mail sent to all employees of SAP:

"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.

Eric Samuels
Assistant Editor 

March 28, 2007  2:54 PM

It's true!

Posted by: ITKE
resign, SAP

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

March 28, 2007  2:17 PM

Shai Agassi resigning?

Posted by: JackDanahy
netweaver, resign, SAP

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Shai Agassi, president of SAP’s product and technology group and heir apparent to CEO Henning Kagermann, is set to resign from the company. SAP is refusing to comment on the report, according to Forbes.com.

According to the Wall Street Journal report:

“[...] in a move that could preface a management shuffle at the German software giant.

Shai Agassi, president of SAP’s product and technology group and architect of SAP’s Netweaver software, is leaving the company to pursue interests in alternative energy and climate change, says a person familiar with the move.”

If true, SAP is obviously in for a huge shake-up in its management team and probably needs to rewrite Kagermann’s succession plans. I wonder how Léo Apotheker feels right now…

Check back here and on SearchSAP.com for more information as this story develops.

Jon Franke
News Editor


March 27, 2007  3:07 PM

SAP consulting trends

Posted by: ITKE
netweaver, SAP, trend

SAP consultants are experiencing a boom… or slow and painful demise. It all depends on what particular niche you're focused in on and the skills you've acquired. Most SearchSAP.com members are familiar with SAP jobs expert Jon Reed's excellent career advice, but this time he took it one step further with this in-depth report:
SAP consulting trends: Revenge of the core consultant and other new developments.

Some issues that are explored in the report:

  • What are the "winner" vs. "loser" areas of SAP consulting?
  • Why experience isn't enough and why some consultants can, once again, get gigs with just a certification
  • How to cash in on the upgrade push to ECC 6.0
  • How NetWeaver is changing the required skillsets
  • How to tweak your current skill set to hit the profitable niches in the years ahead

It's a massive report featuring interviews with Brian Trout, SAP Practice Manager for B2B Workforce, Jerry Walter, owner of staffing firm Walter and Associates and Michael Doane, chief intelligence officer for Performance Monitor and author of the recently updated SAP Blue Book, among others. Check it out today!

Matt Danielsson

March 23, 2007  3:40 PM

Oracle sues SAP: The fight gets dirty

Posted by: ITKE
Oracle, SAP

A quiet afternoon spent prepping for March Madness was interrupted Thursday, as news of Oracle’s lawsuit against SAP hit the wires. Was this just another spotlight-grab by one of the best in the business, Larry Ellison? Or was there something to it?

As outlined in the Eye on Oracle blog post, the charges Oracle is pressing against SAP seem to have real merit, and the level of detail in the lawsuit is pretty impressive. It will certainly be interesting to see which company prevails in court or if there’s some sort of settlement.

For its part, SAP just issued a statement from Steve Bauer, VP for Global Communications, saying:

"SAP will not comment other than to make it clear to our customers, prospects, investors, employees and partners that SAP will aggressively defend against the claims made by Oracle in the lawsuit.  SAP will remain focused on delivering products and services — including those from TomorrowNow — that ensure success for our customers."

The lawsuit does raise a couple of interesting questions beyond who will prevail: In a competitive market like this, with two companies that clearly don’t like each other, should we be all that surprised that something like this would happen? And while it is pretty clear, if the charges are true, that SAP did something wrong, will Oracle really be able to prove damages?

Addressing the first question first, in any market as fiercely competitive as this one, companies are constantly trying to get an edge. It is an expected part of doing business.

“This is something that is done a lot in the industry, where companies do whatever they can to find out about competitors at different levels and to different extents this stuff is done more often then you’d think,” said Martin Schneider, senior analyst for enterprise software for New York’s 451 Group.

However, the activity described in the lawsuit goes beyond the usual competitive hijinks we see between software vendors, like having competitive intelligence folks scouring the Web for any tidbit of information or snippet of code. 

“It was password-protected information. Does that make it wrong? Yeah,” Schneider said. “So, it’s really the methods they used. And some of it was so obvious, the people obviously weren’t hiding the fact that they had no business on the site.”

Material from the brief Oracle filed backs this point up, somewhat hilariously, stating:

“In many instances […] SAP employees used the log-in IDs of multiple customers, combined with phony user log-in information, to gain access to Oracle’s system under false pretexts. Employing these techniques, SAP users effectively swept much of the contents of Oracle’s system onto SAP’s servers. These ‘customer users’ supplied user information (such as user name, email address, and phone number) that did not match the customer at all. In some cases, this user information did not match anything: it was fake. For example, some users logged in with the user names of ‘xx,’ ‘ss,’ ‘User’ and ‘NULL.’ Others used phony email addresses like ‘test@testyomama.com’ and fake phone numbers such as ‘7777777777’ and ‘123 456 7897.’”

Yes, you read that right — “testyomama.com.”

But Schneider also pointed out that SAP probably could have gotten the information in other ways. After all, if SAP was taking on these new customers from Oracle, a lot of the materials were probably available from the customer side.

“I think they were just kind of making neat and tidy collections of stuff that they could’ve gotten in other ways,” he said. 

But while what SAP allegedly did was sketchy at best, actual monetary damages will be more difficult to prove.

“If the information was that valuable to Oracle it would’ve policed the site a little more,” Schneider explained. “It would’ve had security and alerts so it could’ve stopped it more quickly. They would’ve turned off access as soon as customers left,” Schneider said.

Think of your typical subscription to, say, ESPN.com Insider. When a user’s subscription runs out, ESPN immediately cuts off that user’s access to Insider content — I know firsthand. And that content is only worth $39.95 per year.

So, the actual damage to Oracle may be tougher to prove than SAP’s wrongdoing. And if this was some small, independent reseller, Schneider thinks Oracle would likely have just sent a cease-and-desist letter.

“Are they making a mountain out of a slightly smaller mountain? Yes. I won’t say it’s a molehill, but they are making as big a deal as possible about it because SAP is their biggest competitor,” he said.

The ultimate fallout of the lawsuit remains to be seen, and we’ll keep a close eye on the situation. We’re, of course, interested in your thoughts. Will this hurt SAP in the long run? Does it make you less likely to purchase SAP products? Any predictions on an award or settlement? Drop us an email at jfranke@techtarget.com to let us know what you think.

Jon Franke
News Editor

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