SAP Sapphire: New Paradigm Needed?


SAP co-CEO Jim Snabe made some ambitious claims at the software giant’s conference, but were they justified?

Physicists at CERN were shocked two months ago, to be told of results that could show neutrinos travelling faster than light and throwing the laws of physics into question. The chief executive of SAP believes that established theories in business software could be in for a similar shake-up.

That, at least, was the kicking-off point for co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe’s keynote at this year’s SAP Sapphire Now/TechEd Madrid conference. Hagerman followed an unexpected (but tightly scripted) intro from actor Gabriel Byrne, and told the audience SAP was at a crucial point on its journey into the data analytics market, with its NetWeaver Business Warehouse component and HANA platform. pivotal position in terms of the influence they have on the software marketplace.

Core, cloud, mobile and in-memory computing

Talking about the four cornerstones of SAP’s central technology proposition, Snabe explained his company’s approach to core, cloud, mobile and in-memory computing technologies. Looking at SAP HANA, Snabe talked about the next innovation of this data appliance which has been engineered to run data analytics in an in-memory real-time environment. According to Snabe, this will change the way companies are building and managing their data infrastructures.

Snabe made two jibes at Oracle: “We innovate rather than consolidate,” he said, implying Oracle would just engage in corporate technical consumption and expansion. Going further he added, “We innovate in six month cycles, which is faster than most corporates can perform acquisitions.”

Features, less is more

In a breakout roundtable entitled The Mobilised Enterprise, Sybase’s Dr Raj Nathan (now listed as ‘SAP corporate officer’) used his audience address opportunity to suggest that mobile application development has changed. “Where once we might have identified 25 features in a desktop application and say that we need to have, say, 22 of those features present before  a mobile version would be ready or suitable for market, times have now changed. It is now far more acceptable to roll out an initial version of a mobile application with just three or four features and then build upon that foundation with updates.”

Nathan also said that Sybase is pushing forward in application development so that software engineers can develop on a platform for mobile that is ready for the fact that an app may have to perform at two distinct levels. Whether the application itself is data intensive or, conversely, user intensive – both use cases need to be able to be developed on the same platform.

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