What a year. With 2010 already drawing to a close, we thought we take the opportunity to look back on the biggest SAP stories of the year. Here they are, in reverse order.
10. Duet Enterprise
SAP and Microsoft partnered a few years ago to create Duet, a way for people to access SAP through their more familiar Office applications. The project never really caught fire, and only a smattering of businesses implemented it. This year, SAP and Microsoft introduced Duet Enterprise, a way for users to access their SAP applications through Microsoft SharePoint. While the product is still in ramp-up, interest among potential customers was high at TechEd Las Vegas.
9. Amazon EC2 and SAP
SAP introduced its sustainability application Carbon Impact OnDemand in September but raised eyebrows when it disclosed that the database was being hosted on Amazon’s EC2 cloud, instead of on SAP’s own private cloud, which it uses for Business ByDesign. SAP subsequently insisted that their cloud strategy would use a range of public clouds in addition to its own network. “Three years from now you will be asking me, ‘How many clouds are you supporting?’” SAP’s chief technology officer, Vishal Sikka, told SearchSAP.com in October.
SAP also said that Amazon could host Carbon Impact more cheaply, which made some wonder if SAP might run Business ByDesign on Amazon, or another public cloud. SAP said there was little chance of that ever happening.
8. The “consumerizaton” of SAP
The lines between enterprise applications and what’s going on in the world of consumer computing continued to blur. SAP noted it was taking cues from companies like Apple and Amazon in order to make its oft-maligned user interfaces easier to use, as well as to appeal to the “Google generation.”
At the same time, SAP continued to make headway on its “Enterprise 2.0” project with StreamWork (originally named 12sprints during beta testing), its collaborative decision-making software that incorporates central elements of social media. StreamWork debuted in March, and by December, had begun integrating into Business Suite applications. Some customers, like Nike, said they were intrigued, others weren’t so sure.
7. Business analytics
In light of SAP's plans to phase out Business Explorer (BEx) by 2016, the question of whether BEx users should move to BusinessObjects remained. Others wondered whether the advantages of Business Warehouse Accelerator (BWA) were worth the cost. Meanwhile, in September SAP released industry-specific BusinessObjects applications.
While the issue of SAP’s roadmaps is a perennial issue for just about everyone, it was particularly prominent this year. Customers and analysts called for a better overall roadmap in light of the changes at the CEO level and a sense of unease among the user base. Meanwhile some analysts recommended not using NetWeaver PI for strategic projects due to questions over how long it might be around, and the SAP User-Group Executive Network, or SUGEN, also pushed for more input into SAP’s product roadmaps. While complaints about a lack of transparency into what SAP has planned for its various product lines will no doubt never end, some analysts did praise the company for doing a better job of clearing up questions over the future of NetWeaver PI, as well as NetWeaver as a whole.
5. In-memory and SAP HANA
SAP never stopped telling customers and anyone else who would listen they were committed to in-memory computing. In December, SAP launched HANA, the in-memory appliance it claims can crunch massive amounts of analytical data in a fraction of the time it takes traditional databases. To what extent will the interest in in-memory computing translate to sales of the new device? We’ll see.
4. SAP backs off of only offering Enterprise Support, ends KPI program
After a two-year revolt by customers, SAP announced in January that it would go back to offering its Standard Support plan in addition to a proposed Enterprise plan that cost more, but included more bells and whistles. After the initial plan to move everyone to Enterprise Support met resistance, SAP, working with SUGEN, had planned to implement those maintenance fee increases once a number of Key Performance Indicators (KPI) were met. However, the KPI plan was ditched when not enough customers agreed to participate in the program, and SAP decided to continue its basic support plan after all.
3. Oracle vs. SAP, and third-party maintenance
After years of legal posturing and bickering, Oracle’s intellectual property lawsuit against SAP over its long-kaput third-party maintenance provider TomorrowNow finally went to trial. While the trial itself didn’t quite provide the fireworks that some had expected, the jury weighed in with a little drama of its own, awarding Oracle a whopping $1.3 billion in damages. At the same time, the trial didn’t seem to worry users very much that they’d be adversely affected. This may not be the end of this particular case, as SAP has indicated it may appeal. Meanwhile, Oracle opened up another front in its war against third-party maintenance providers over alleged abuses, having filed suit against Rimini Street back in January. How all of this will play out remains to be seen.
2. New CEOs
The upper ranks of SAP’s management structure once again changed at the beginning of the year, as Leo Apotheker resigned after less than a year as CEO. SAP installed Bill McDermott, who oversaw the company’s sales operations, and Jim Hagemann Snabe, who directed product development. At the same time, CTO Vishal Sikka was named to the executive board.
1. Sybase acquisition
After months of negotiations, SAP officially announced the purchase of the mobile technology company Sybase in August for $5.8 billion. SAP said at the time that it would leverage the acquisition to create a new mobile platform within nine months. The new platform will be based on open standards, run on all major operating systems, and be compatible with all major device types, according to SAP. Given the growth of mobile computing, SAP feels that purchasing Sybase will help get it to 1 billion total users by 2015. Timing of the new platform coincides with Sapphire Now 2011, so stay tuned to see what SAP delivers at that time.