Today was the opening keynote of TechEd 2013 and despite some nothing new pre-leaks - there were some substantial announcements and takeaways - I will concentrate on my top three takeaways - probably more later during the week.
It is a little more than a 100 days since Vishal Sikka has taken over the reins of all product development - and he is wasting no time to get things done, even if this is hard and potentially unpopular decisions.
Takeaway #1 - SAP's to be landscape becomes clear
This is the first time I have heard an SAP executive publicly acknowledging the littered system landscape that SAP has accumulated through the years both internally and through acquisition - nothing says it better than the picture Sikka drew during the keynote:
Name your systems - it is a lot of parallel and redundant code and functionality - so let's look at the SAP to-be architecture:
So not surprisingly we will see the following in the near and far future from SAP:
- Of course HANA is the database of choice here - no surprise. Already today HANA has database services, application services are newer and application libraries are the future. It will be interesting to see what they will be, when they ship and if they are available and ready to be consumed by customers and / or partners.
- And HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) is the basis for building new applications - and will not only be used to build completely new applications as a separate tech stack (on the left as the illustration implies) but also complement and permeate in the tech stacks of the existing apps (the ones painted in black). This is where the (very) hard work will have to happen for SAP and for probably a (very) long time. Definitively the area to watch for existing clients.
- More surprising was that the Fiori paradigm was also chosen as the UI paradigm going forward. And while Fiori is a welcome and good innovation by SAP - it has more focussed on high usage, simple, often self service scenarios - so it will have to be extended for more dense, power user screens and UI demands that SAP needs to satisfy as an enterprise application vendor. Nothing impossible - but new things to cover and create by Sam Yen and team.
Takeaway #2 - SAP gets serious on Analytics - partners with SaaS
This is probably one of the best mutually acknowledging each other leadership partnership I have seen in a long time. SAP acknowledges SAS leadership as the analytical tool of choice of data scientists and SAS acknowledges that HANA is a mature database platform to deploy models to and run analytical application on.
At the same time SAP keeps its own ambitions in the analytics space - notably after the KXEN acquisition - so we witness another of the recently more and more popular co-opetition partnerships. These can go well - but can also be problematic.
But the prize is clear - if SAP manages to make HANA the database of choice for model building by the data scientists using SAS - then it can become the de-facto analytical database of choice for the enterprise. A (free?) bundle of SAS with Hana One - maybe on a larger AWS instance, say 10 GB of RAM - would not hurt that process.
Takeaway #3 - SAP fixes mobile - technology wise
With the announcement of version 3.0 of the SAP Mobile Platform SAP makes a key step towards fixing it challenged mobile track record. Out is much of the proprietary and all clunky Sybase pieces - and in is a standards based, open sourced mobile development platform. This will help capture both talent and capacity for new mobile applications. More to come, stay tuned, not my colleagues Chris Marsh's quote in the press release here.
So if you follow the software life cycle, once you fix the architecture, you can build great applications, when you have great applications - you have to get the price right. SAP now has some time to address the latter.