The Finest Shade of Blue: #theCUBE @ SAPPHIRE 2012

SAPPHIRE, SAP’s annual mega-show, is just days away. Taking place next week (May 14-16) in Orlando, expectations are high for the German software maker and (now) database player.

At last year’s show, much of the focus was on HANA, SAP’s in-memory database, which promises end-users support for lightening fast analytics against large volumes of data. As I wrote then, SAP is betting the house on HANA, with plans to migrate its entire software and application portfolio onto the new database, as well as rolling out new, HANA-optimized analytic applications. SAP also declared last year that it intended to reach #2 in the database market by 2015.

But, at SAPPHIRE 2011, there were only a few customer examples of HANA in action. The message was much more about vision and future success than here-and-now proof-points. For SAPPHIRE 2012 to be a success for SAP, that must change. Next week, from a HANA perspective the pressure is on SAP to:

  1. Highlight as many real-world HANA customers as possible; Vision is no longer enough. By this point, SAP should have a small but growing user base and its critical the company put them on prominent display.
  2. Provide further proof-points around HANA adoption, such as its current database market share and examples of customers that have actually replaced archrival Oracle with HANA.
  3. Show that it has minimized the barriers to ISVs and outside developers to build applications on top of HANA; It will be interesting to see if SAP puts any developers on the main stage.
  4. Rollout some new HANA-optimized analytic applications that provide SAP real differentiation from the likes of Oracle and IBM.

Mobile

Then there’s mobile. At last year’s SAPPHIRE, Co-CEO Jim Hageman Snabe said one of SAP’s goals is to provide end-users access to its applications on whatever device they choose – desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone. With Sybase in the SAP fold, the company now has a top-notch mobile development platform in Sybase Unwired to allow developers to build custom SAP mobile applications for today’s mobile workforce. Not unlike with HANA, SAP needs to show its progress in attracting outside developers to build custom, mobile SAP apps. I’m also interested to see some metrics regarding SAP’s mobile app store (unveiled last year.)

Big Data

What about Big Data? The term ‘Big Data’ was barely mentioned at last year’s SAPPHIRE. Since then pockets within SAP have started using the term but articulating sometimes-contradictory messages. Some inside SAP say Big Data is a meaningless buzzword while others embrace it. Depending on who you’ve talked to over the last year at SAP, HANA is or isn’t SAP’s Big Data solution. And don’t forget Sybase. At SAPPHIRE 2011 the focus, when it came to Sybase, was on its mobile development and management platform, but the company has a solid data warehouse and complex event processing portfolio as well.

I had the opportunity to visit SAP’s Palo Alto office earlier this year, where I heard a solid story around SAP’s strategy to tackle Big Data that integrated Sybase data warehousing, Sybase CEP, HANA and – to a limited extent — Hadoop. The challenge next week is for SAP to communicate this strategy to the thousands in attendance at the Orange County Convention Center as well as they did to me and my colleague John Furrier in that Palo Alto conference room.

Cloud

And let’s not forget cloud and SaaS. As everyone knows, SAP made a big splash earlier this year when it acquired SuccessFactors, which offers SaaS-based human capital management applications. Many took the acquisition as SAP demonstrating to the market its commitment to cloud computing. To further demonstrate that commitment, SAP should put SuccessFactors CEO, Lars Dalgaard, on the main stage to articulate the company’s cloud strategy and vision.

SAP also needs to provide proof-points around adoption of Business ByDesign, its SaaS-based ERP platform for SMBs. You’ll recall BBD got off to a rough start, failing to gain traction with SAP’s SMB customers when it debuted in 2007. SAP has since gotten the platform back on track, having racked up 500 customers by the time of SAPPHIRE 2011 and declaring it would reach 1000 customers by year’s (2011) end. Did SAP hit its BBD adoption numbers and where does adoption stand now? We’ll find out soon enough.

#theCUBE @ SAPPHIRE 2011

If you’re not heading to Orlando for SAPPHIRE 2012, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. SiliconANGLE’s #theCUBE will be broadcasting live from the show floor, kicking off Monday (5/14) afternoon and continuing all day Tuesday (5/15) and Wednesday (5/16). Like last year, we’ve got an all-start line-up of SAP execs, partners and customers joining us live throughout the show, as well as Wikibon analysts and SiliconANGLE journalists providing analysis and commentary. Our crack team of reporters will be real-time blogging the show at SiliconANGLE.com.

You can catch all the action at SiliconANGLE.tv. It’s must watch TV for anyone in the SAP ecosystem. In the mean time, get ready for this year’s SAPPHIRE by revisiting SAPPHIRE 2011. On this SAPPHIRE 2011 page, you’ll find over 25 videos from #theCUBE at last year’s event, including interviews with SAP Co-CEO Jim Hageman Snabe and SAP CIO Oliver Bussman (see below), as well as written coverage and analysis from Wikibon.

SAP has a lot riding on SAPPHIRE 2012 and we’ll be there every step of the way providing the most in-depth, comprehensive and exciting coverage you’ll find anywhere. If you’re heading to Orlando for the show, have a safe trip and we’ll see you there. If not, #theCUBE and SiliconANGLE.tv has you covered.


SAP Co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe on theCUBE at SAPPHIRE 2011


SAP CIO Oliver Bussman live on theCUBE at SAPPHIRE 2011

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