HANA in Review: I had the pleasure of being hosted by SAP for a fully loaded day of HANA briefings - and it was an information-rich and very interesting day. Needless to say, I learned a lot - and need to review my position on HANA to be more positive, as more progress has been made by SAP than I previously thought.
Suite on Hana
So the Suite on Hana is really there. Except for SRM and some pieces of SCM. But the rest runs on HANA, using the existing database abstraction that SAP used before in R/3 to make it work with the different database vendors it supports today. I didn't get an ETA for the SCM pieces, but the SRM part should come later in the year. Customers license HANA the same way as any other database license, as a percentage of license revenue, and HANA shares the (steep) price tag with Oracle (RAC option). Good things have their price.
The database migration is a consulting project that is supported by pre-packaged offerings and tools - but remains an enterprise individualized effort, due to modifications (aka customization outside the Sapanese language world). SAP has developed a number of value points that customers can be pointed to and SAP consulting is ready to validate as well as identify further value points.
SAP knows the issues about the missing in action SD benchmark and is working on a new HANA benchmark - that will also come out later in the year. My best guess is the SAP TechEd timeframe in fall.
MyPOV - Good to see the progress for Suite on HANA. We will see further uptake by end of Q2 and Q3 which will be a good benchmark how well SAP customers continue to respond to the Suite on HANA value proposition.
SAP HANA One (Premium)
The product is alive and well, sees more uptake and is really a valid small scale HANA deployment - both for the experimenting organization and for the data scientist scenario. As it runs on Amazon's AWS it is very price attractive and really makes HANA adoption much easier.
What I missed so far and somehow oversaw in the Sapphire noise was the HANA One Premium offering, that allows enterprises to deploy small scale Suite on HANA and Business Warehouse on HANA or custom HANA applications also on AWS.
MyPOV - It's good to see these smaller and cheaper HANA offerings are gaining traction in the marketplace and that SAP made them cost effective and price competitive by running them on AWS.
HANA Enterprise Cloud
With HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC) SAP has announced and runs the enterprise class managed HANA cloud platform. Customer interest for the reasons mentioned at the launch shortly before Sapphire are valid and are creating traction. At the same time a large number of validations and proof of concepts also run on HEC - which makes sense as it's the fastest to get them going and already runs on the potential cloud deployment platform.
MyPOV - As mentioned originally - a very good move by SAP - helping customers and itself to accelerate validation and sales cycles. It will be interesting to see how SAP customers will deploy HANA going forward - more on premise or on HEC. The latter is certainly the future and best solution for most of them. But concerns on elasticity remain.
HANA Cloud Platform
This is the next generation SAP development platform, ABAP free, largely built on open source, develop in Java or Java byte code compatible languges - and deploy to the cloud. Basically the new SAP platform. And while it can run on HEC - SAP understands it as a standalone PaaS platform that powers new SAP SaaS products on the SAP Cloud Infrastructure (SCI) - that is basically the cloud infrastructure on which homegrown (e.g. byDesign) and acquired (e.g. SuccessFactors) run on. Probably a hodge podge that some professionals at SAP are now cleaning out and harmonizing.
MyPOV - It's very important for SAP to have an attractive, modern application development platform that even can run as a PaaS. SAP is fulfilling a need that goes back to Shai Agassi back in 2004 (or was it 2005?) statements at TechEd, that SAP will need to support Java and can't expect to attract and retain programming talent on ABAP forever. The PaaS move is a bold but logical positioning we will need to find out and hear more about.
"Analytics" and Analytics
SAP - like many other vendors - is victim of the faux analytics term, that is used basically only as the latest buzzword for Business Intelligence. And there are good BI offerings, notable the next generation Business Objects - Lumira. And on the BigData side SAP now supports the usual co-existence scenario of many vendors, that are call outs to Hadoop clusters. Certainly look forward to a demo of that.
The good news on the Analytics side (the real one, the one that can action or at least suggest an action) is that SAP seems to have ended (the in my view ill fated) partnership with IBM SPSS. Instead SAP went down the common road of using R - and more importantly uses PMML in HANA for 3rd party developed decision models.
MyPOV - I heard a lot of talk and understanding for real analytics and I have not given up hope, that SAP will clean out the messaging and call analytics analytics and the new BI offerings... something else. And SAP should invest more into this area - as who wins the holy grail in the analytics area can unseat all the exitsing enterprise vendors.
I also had the opportunity to learn more about the design thinking approach that has taken over for the better on the SAP application creation side. And the approach to build high value, high frequency scenarios out of the box and provide a tool based approach for the the lesser used and valuable scenarios is the right one. The task at hand is herculean, as SAP counts something around 300000 screens across products.
The good news is that the early children of the new design thinking process are promising, the consumer apps (myRunway is the most successful one) and Fiori - have a lot of traction and success.
MyPOV - We can only cross our fingers that the nth UI re-invention will be successful for SAP users and SAP. Granted, all enterprise vendors struggle with this challenge, a lot of work and questions remain - but it's good to see the progress SAP has made. The largest concern remains the limitation to the existing SOAP APIs that are exposed through the SAP Gateway - are they modern and 21st century enough? And if not - can SAP build them fast enough in 21st century best practice style?
SAP the technology company
My assessment here needs some caution - as I only met technology oriented executives at this visit. But looking at the recent SAP announcements, the Sapphire focus etc - its clear SAP wants to get the 2nd leg -- next to the application business - in the technology business. And SAP has promising technology in many areas - but the path to have a 2nd leg, successfully use it and be perceived as a two legged vendor (no offense here to anyone) - is a long one.
A lot of progress has been made by SAP on HANA and it's different delivery options, as well for Suite on HANA and HANA Cloud Platform. The design thinking approach is bearing promising fruits, positively affecting all SAP customers with Fiori. The recent re-organization should allow the company to pick up more speed as it puts responsibilities for single functions in single pairs of hands.
But becoming a company with enterprise application and enterprise technology credibility and success is a long and rocky path. As a reference - it took Oracle 10+ if not 15+ years to become a global enterprise application player. SAP does not have the luxury of that much time.
My impression is, that SAP has done important steps on product, has done key hires in marketing but now needs to execute on changes in the sales force, the partner ecosystem, the perception in the market etc. The world gets bigger and more complex when you have to legs - or are a switch hitter. And SAP may end up as great technology company but with a neglected business application portfolio in the process. Not a desirable outcome in my view.