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SAP continues to push HANA, cloud, mobility

SAP’s Influencer Event in Boston focused on some familiar themes, but the company is demonstrating momentum.

BOSTON -- SAP continued to hammer home three core themes at its 2011 SAP Influencer Summit in Boston with a four-hour keynote address pushing HANA, mobile applications and the cloud.

Yet the focus on HANA is shifting from education to real-world use cases and market momentum.

SAP HANA and in-memory computing

SAP HANA is “the fastest-growing product SAP has ever had,” said Vishal Sikka, SAP’s chief technology officer and a member of the executive board. Much of HANA’s growth has been in Asia.

“The next step is the get HANA into every company,” said Jim Hagemann Snabe, co-CEO. “I believe SAP is one and a half years ahead of the competition. HANA is no longer a research project.”

SAP is now working with Ufida, a large Chinese ERP software company to develop use cases for SAP, despite the fact that the two companies are competitors in ERP market. SAP is also partnering with Tibco, an infrastructure company, on HANA deployments.

While previous keynote addresses have centered on HANA’s technical specifications, the executive team tried to push HANA's real-world application, an approach not lost on some in attendance.

“As time goes by, use cases discussed by SAP for HANA are becoming more and more specific and compelling,” said Vitaliy Rudnytskiy, SAP Mentor and HANA consultant.

For example, chocolatier Ferrero’s chief information officer Martin Flegenheimer discussed how his company has looked into the SAP HANA Accelerator for SAP CO-PA for real-time profitability reporting. Chocolate consumption actually spikes when the economy isn’t doing so well, Flegenheimer said. The HANA Accelerator helps Ferrero adjust to the change.

“Business Suite accelerators is HANA's best potential in the next year,” said Jon Reed, SAP Mentor and analyst.

Several analysts remain curious how Sybase IQ fit into SAP’s plans with HANA, but Raj Nathan, executive vice president, Sybase was careful to note that although there is some overlap between the products, the customer universes for each are larger than that overlap. As BI analyst Cindi Howson noted, “Sybase IQ is a DBMS [database management system] and SAP HANA is infrastructure.”

Plans for the cloud

The main design principles of SAP’s cloud approach is “zero on-boarding time, learning time, downtime, integration time, waiting time and marginal costs,” Hagemann Snabe said.

He ruefully acknowledged that SAP’s first, somewhat failed attempt at a cloud approach several years ago did not meet the “zero” standards.

SAP’s recent acquisition of SuccessFactors fits into SAP’s cloud plans.

“SAP did not have the DNA of the business model of cloud,” Hagemann Snabe said. “SuccessFactors is the fastest growing cloud company with the highest retention -- 60% repeat customers.”

He added that SuccessFactors brings 15 million users into the SAP family.

“SuccessFactors is an opportunity to look at a model of how to make a string of applications successful. It brings the value of cloud non-disruptively to SAP customers,” Sikka said.

Turning attention to the re-launched Business ByDesign, Hagemann Snabe said that SAP will meet its goal of 1,000 Business ByDesign customers by the end of 2011. In addition, he remarked that SAP will allow partners to run Business One in a cloud model. Sanjay Poonen, president of SAP global solutions explained that SAP’s cloud offerings are available for any size customer --Business One for small businesses, Business ByDesign for midsize businesses and applications such as Sales OnDemand and BI OnDemand for larger companies.

Plans for mobility

With 30-plus apps now available from SAP and more than 100 available from partners, the introduction of the SAP Store this past fall should allow SAP to grow its mobile Sybase Unwired Platform and Sybase Afaria, according to Sikka. SAP had four mobile applications available last fall, but there are now 35 mobile apps available today. More features will be added to the store in March 2012, such as a recommender engine, online application purchasing with license support and credit card payment support.

Raj Nathan, Sybase’s executive vice presidentdiscusses the current lineup of SAP mobile applications

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