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Sapphire 2007: Themes to watch

Experts listed SAP's midmarket push, its leadership shake-up and service-oriented architecture (SOA) focus, as well as the battle with Oracle, as key themes for Sapphire 2007.

With Sapphire 2007 days away, SearchSAP.com asked several experts and attendees about the focus of the conference....

SAP's midmarket push, its leadership shake-up and service-oriented architecture (SOA) focus, as well as the battle with Oracle, were clear choices. This article presents news and background on these topics to help prepare for the show.

Midmarket focus

SAP continued its midmarket push this year, counting many customer wins and some replacement deals. At Sapphire, SAP should continue to emphasize the midmarket as a critical cog in reaching its goal of 100,000 customers by 2010.

The company announced a new "SOA by design" product -- codenamed "A1S" -- which is due out later this year. At that time, the company will boast three SMB offerings: Business One, All-in-One and A1S.

This has led to some confusion as to what product is right for different businesses, but All-in-One does have strengths compared to the competition.

"I would expect SAP to show continued focus in the midmarket from the level and quality of partnerships, to a prioritization of resources to deliver on Business One and All-in-One capabilities," said R. Wang, principal analyst for Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc.

Leadership

In many ways, Shai Agassi was the face of SAP, and his resignation came as a surprise to many. Agassi was often considered a visionary and his exit hurts SAP, but the company will survive.

Agassi is usually a fixture at SAP events. With his departure coming so close to Sapphire, many attendees will be wondering how SAP will react.

"I presume that a key overriding message in all keynotes will be 'SAP is moving forward' with the sub-current being 'without Shai,'" said Michael Doane, founder and chief intelligence officer of Performance Monitor in Peachtree City, Georgia. "SAP will promote this message by underscoring their recent creation of the post of CTO, and having filled that post with Vishal Sikka, whose innovation efforts will be supervised by Peter Zencke and Hasso Plattner."

Expect Plattner to be an important part of SAP's message.

"I believe that Hasso's presence will be viewed as a high necessity as he elicits confidence," Doane said. "I believe that is why he, and not Kagermann, will be delivering the opening keynote."

More on Sapphire hot topics
SAP and the midmarket: Check out SearchSAP.com's midmarket Featured Topic

SAP leadership: Read what Agassi had to say to the SAP Developer network about his departure

SOA: Hear more on ESA and SOA trends in this podcast

SAP vs. Oracle: See what the next battlegrounds will be

SOA

Service-oriented architecture continues to be a buzzword in the enterprise software world, and SAP expects two-thirds of its customers to be on its enterprise services architecture (ESA) by 2010.

SAP has expanded its consulting division and composite applications program in order to drive SOA adoption. Axel Angelli, one of SearchSAP.com's site experts, speculated that SAP may have placed too much emphasis on SOA, at the expense of its ERP products.

"The next iterations on ESA and the relationship of SOA and application delivery to SAP's platform will be prevalent [at Sapphire]," said David Yockelson, a vice president of research operations for New York's 451 Group.

SOA is also a critical battleground for SAP and Oracle, with each company taking a different tack and no clear leader emerging yet.

SAP vs. Oracle

Since last year's event, SAP and Oracle have each made their fair share of acquisitions. Oracle's purchase of Hyperion has been the biggest move this year, and there is no consensus on what SAP's response will be or how it will affect SAP customers.

Recently, Oracle upped the ante with its lawsuit aimed at SAP's TomorrowNow, although many question its merits and think the main thing to come out of the suit will be increased visibility of third-party support providers.

SAP tends to focus internally at its events, so despite the fact that SAP's competition with Oracle is as fierce as ever, Sapphire attendees should not expect SAP to focus on its biggest competitor.

"Just as there was not a single mention of Oracle at the SAP Analyst Summit in early December of 2006, there will not be a single mention of Oracle at Sapphire 2007," Doane said.

Check SearchSAP.com's Sapphire 2007 coverage page next week for news, analysis and podcasts from the show.

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