SAPPHIRE 2011: SAP’s Snabe Wants to Simplify Your IT Environment

Cloud computing, in-memory analytics, and mobility were the buzzwords at Day 1 of SAPPHIRE, but judging by Co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe’s own words, SAP is focused on one thing: simplicity.

“I actually believe that is one of the biggest tasks in the industry,” said Snabe, speaking to SiliconANGLE founder John Furrier and chief Wikibon analyst David Vellante live in theCube from the show floor. “Over the years we’ve added complexity and now it’s all about dramatically reducing the complexity. [But] not by solving simple problems. We need to continue to solve the complex problems of business, but we need to add the dimension of simplicity.”

Cloud computing, in-memory analytics, and mobility are a means to that end, as Snabe and SAP see it.

Cloud-based, on-demand applications, like SAP’s Business ByDesign, remove the burden of complex on-premise deployments. In-memory analytics appliance, like SAP’s HANA, store data in RAM requiring less hardware. And a seamless mobile platform, a la Sybase, makes it easier to deploy and manage mobile applications for employees on the go.

It’s strikes me as a more practical, real-world vision than what we saw from EMC at EMC World last week. Where EMC is embracing cutting-edge Big Data technologies like Hadoop to help its customers push the boundaries of analytics, SAP is focused on helping customers regain control of their environments and use IT to solve more pressing, immediate business problems.

“Fundamentally companies also need core process software to run their business,” Snabe said when asked about Hadoop and other hot open source Big Data technologies. “You need the invoices sent out, you need to make sure you pay your salaries, you need to make sure you can report on a monthly basis … For that you need enterprise quality software, which today is not free software.”

Its not sexy, but it may well resonate with harried IT staff. But can SAP deliver? I think it can. SAP has most of the raw materials it needs to turn its vision into reality, but the trick is execution. SAP must turn the raw materials into simple, polished applications and systems that are easy to manage and that users want to use. And that’s what I’m looking for today and tomorrow. Stay tuned.

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