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BOBJ 4.0, acquisitions, and BW on HANA among the top stories of 2011

SearchSAP examines the biggest stories of 2011, from the debut of BusinessObjects 4.0 and SAP Business Warehouse on HANA, to confusion over SAP’s on-demand roadmap.

It was a  big year for SAP in 2011, from wining the latest round in its legal fight with Oracle to SAP Business Warehouse now running on HANA.  Here are the top SAP news stories of the year, in reverse order.

John Wookey leaves SAP. Just before the annual SapphireNow conference in May, SAP revealed that John Wookey, its celebrated head of its on-demand applications was leaving for “personal reasons.”  By early November, it was announced he had joined Kevin Nix, who was heavily involved in creating Sales OnDemand, took over Wookey’s spot.

SAP debuts Solution Manager 7.1 -- users still wait. The latest version of Solution Manager hit the general market. SAP made a number of improvements in the updated application, including simplified management dashboards and end-to-end monitoring, in the hopes of bolstering adoption of the tool. At the same time, some users were trying to get more out of the version they already had.

SAP opens up NetWeaver Gateway. SAP announced the arrival of Gateway, an open-standards-based framework that developers can use to more easily connect non-SAP applications to SAP applications. Because it also makes it easier to access SAP applications from mobile devices, SAP chose to include Gateway as a part of the Sybase Unwired Platform 2.1.

Business ByDesign matures. SAP claimed that in 2011 its on-demand ERP application finally began gaining traction among users. At the SapphireNow conference in Orlando, Fla., SAP said it met its mid-year goal of having 500 customers and was well on its way to having 1,000 customers by year’s end. While there’s been no word on the latter benchmark just yet, SAP also spent 2011 pushing Business ByDesign as a part of a two-tier ERP solution, rolling out new language versions, announcing a newly improved software development kit as a part of version 3.0 and unveiling a sports and event management version currently being used by the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. SAP also said that its channel partners were now playing a more central role in the application’s future. Not all news was good, however. Some of ByDesign’s earliest customers said upgrading was a problem.

Judge throws out $1.3 billion verdict against SAP. Last year, just before Thanksgiving, a jury in California delivered a $1.3 billion verdict in favor of Oracle in its IP theft lawsuit against SAP and its former subsidiary TomorrowNow. This past fall, the same judge in the case sided with SAP’s appeal that the figure wasn’t based on actual damages, calling it “grossly excessive” and knocked it down to $272 million. As SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott put it, the ball is now is Oracle’s court. “Whichever decision they prefer is one that we’ll certainly abide by. If they want the $272 [million], that’s fine and if they want a new trial, that’s fine, too,” McDermott said.  

SAP gets acquisitive. In September, SAP purchased Right Hemisphere, a maker of three-dimensional manufacturing visualization tools used by companies to design and produce high-end products like planes and automobiles. In December, SAP announced it was purchasing the on-demand human-resources software maker SuccessFactors for $3.4 billion. While experts said the move was a good one for SAP, they also said it raises a number of questions about SAP’s own on-demand HR products, given that some of its products overlap with some of the applications in SuccessFactors’ portfolio. 

SAP mobile starts to come together. SAP’s mobile strategy began to fill out a bit more, with SAP announcing a raft of new and updated applications at the SapphireNow conference in Madrid, Spain, including those for GRC (governance, risk management and compliance), transportation management, CRM and field support as well as one for electronic medical records. Just weeks earlier, SAP rolled out more of its HR mobile apps. SAP also announced a new mobile apps store and announced the arrival of the Sybase Unwired Platform 2.1, which includes a much-anticipated software development kit designed to give developers tools to create mobile applications across a range of platforms.

SAP releases the long-awaited BusinessObjects 4.0. In February, SAP unveiled   BusinessObjects 4.0 promising full integration with SAP’s enterprise information management products, an improved user interface, improved mobility, social networking tools and the ability to gain meaningful insight from unstructured data, according to SAP. Customer reaction ran the gamut from eager adopters to those who were more cautious. By October, some were looking ahead to what the new Feature Pack 3 -- originally characterized as BOBJ 4.1 -- will bring next year.

The SAP cloud strategy took shape. Or did it? SAP’s pushed forward its cloud strategy on a number of fronts, including announcing that it is moving project River, part of its platform as a service (PaaS) offering, to private beta. Its purchase of SuccessFactors promises to open doors for both SAP and its customers, according to analysts. At the same time, the SuccessFactors deal creates some amount of confusion over SAP’s on-demand road map, at least in the short term, including whether SAP will move forward with Career OnDemand. And as a U.K. and Ireland User Group survey found, when it comes to SAP’s cloud portfolio, users are already confused.

HANA and BusinessWarehouse take center stage. It wasn’t all HANA all the time this past year, but close to it. SAP’s high-speed in-memory technology played a starring role at all of its conventions, including TechEd and the SapphireNow conference in Orlando, where Hasso Plattner proclaimed in-memory to now be “a reality.” At the Madrid Sapphire, SAP announced that SAP Business Warehouse can now run on HANA, opening up new doors for developers to create custom apps. SAP continued to drill down into HANA adoption at the developer level by launching a HANA sandbox and announcing other initiatives, including a HANA software development kit. 


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