Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Of hope and databases

About this time 2 years ago the former GBN was pulled into the broader ASUG user group, and I was selected into the SAP Mentor program. This was really the first time I had been exposed to the broader SAP community (sorry in advance, broader SAP community) and since that time there has been one common theme in every executive keynote that SAP has been involved in. That theme has been HANA.

It isn't that I don't like HANA. I actually really do. I think it has a ton of potential to create real customer value and to eventually substantially lower the total cost of ownership for many companies. Unfortunately for most companies, eventually isn't quite here yet (and hasn't been on any given day for the last couple of years). Has HANA changed some games? Yes. Has it changed the game? Not quite yet.

Wondering why I care so much about discussions surrounding a database technology that I may well never use? Because it comes at the expense of discussing some fantastic, ready-to-use and reasonably-affordable database technologies that I may use. Everyone knows SAP bought Sybase for mobility, but the real jewel of the deal, at least to me, was the opportunity to hurt Oracle where it hurt -- by turning off Oracle database licenses and turning on Sybase database licenses. Unfortunately, it's been very tough to get an SAP executive to talk about Sybase data solutions (except for the occasional throwaway comment) during a keynote since the acquisition. That all changed this morning during BI2012 when the keynote given by Steve Lucas and Timo Elliott included a demo of data being held virtually and in the cloud by Sybase IQ. That in fact carried over to a HANA-specific microforum where Lucas spoke candidly about how the HANA/ASE/IQ technologies fit together into a unified portfolio.

I think SAP did a brilliant thing by finally folding some Sybase products (ASE, IQ, Replication Server, SQL Anywhere) under an umbrella that really genuinely included a product that was developed in-house (HANA). That meant that the people in one database sales organization aren't trying to sell their SAP database products against different SAP database products that happened to fall under a different part of the field sales organization. This gives an SAP account representative the flexibility to actual provide their customer with an optimal solution. Crazy, I know.

SAP stated that it would be the #2 spot in the database market by 2015. HANA alone wasn't going to do that. With an integrated portfolio that includes relational, columnar, mobile, and in-memory options -- and some work in truly integrating them with each other and into their full analytics stack -- I think they may actually have a chance.

Leap Day 2016 Predictions for SAP BI

Over the last couple of months all sorts of analysts and bloggers have reviewed their 2011 predictions and made some new ones for 2012. I'd like to be the first to write about what I see happening in the SAP Business Intelligence landscape over the next 4 years, until the next Leap Day on February 29, 2016.

Culture Shock

SAP will announce that it is buying a company with a strong culture that doesn't mirror that of SAP's. Pundits  (and SAP) will beat their chests and declare that this new acquisition's success will force SAP to develop a more open culture. Nothing will actually change.


SAP will create a shadow subsidiary that will lever up and buy Apple. The next day they'll stop shipping mobile devices and everyone -- consumers, and enterprises alike -- will just give up the whole mobile thing.

Rise of the Developer

SAP will transition itself into a Development Platform Provider more than a Software Solutions Provider. This will be great for small development companies, but not great for companies who don't have a ton of developers in house. Fortunately, the apps they need will be cheap (and won't need all manner of customizations).

Big Goals

Once SAP takes over the number two spot in databases, they'll set their sites a little higher and will try to become the premier provider of men's hosiery in former-EU countries. (Former EU? That's a whole different set of predictions).


The Mayans retained Oracle to be its solution provider for the big ending, but they won't be able to afford the change when Oracle recalculates their maintenance and license revenues based on the Mayans hardware and software needs scaling back post-"End of the World." The Mayans' lawsuit will drag on in the courts, and we will all get to breathe easy a little longer.

Thanks in advance, Larry.