SAP Sapphire: New Paradigm Needed?


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

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Silver (solution) service

But however the application and wider software “solutions” are developed, for SAP and Sybase alike, the future must lie in services. Lou Gerstner saw this at IBM and realigned the company to drive its Global Services division.  SAP also appears to recognise the value of this layer. In line with the company’s branded Rapid Deployment Solutions which encompass high-value services in areas from banking to retail, the most recent developments in this area are again focused on SAP’s in-memory computing platform.

Senior vice president of SAP service Jonathan Trew explained that HANA services are now wrapped into the product itself and therefore currently offered to new and existing customers alike. “On day one of a product release, not all layers of functionality are typically ready to be delivered as fully engineered services. Today this is where we now stand,” said Trew. Until this time, customers using this high-performance analytical appliance would not have had the benefit of these incremental layers.

So moving on, SAP’s Sybase has made much of its recent release of Sybase IQ now at its 15.4 release. This product now includes native MapReduce API, Predictive Model Markup Language (PMML) support, integration with Hadoop and an expanded library of statistical and data mining algorithms. To address the so-called big data market; SAP/Sybase has taken these tools, previously sold separately, and brought them together to “ensure consistency and simplify architecture”.

Serendipitous software

News has also surfaced this week of SAP enhancing its StreamWork social collaboration tool. StreamWork itself is said to be acollaborative decision-making application that directly feeds on information stored in SAP HANA. It produces a detailed list of changes to projects in current flow and is designed to produce the many-to-many communication channel that email on its own cannot provide. SAP says that email does not allow communication to be shared serendipitously and that StreamWork will allow project members to say things on a public (or at least group) basis so that people who didn’t realise they have something to add (until they read a note) can join the crowd effort.

New paradigm or not?

So, was Snabe right to compare business software with the paradigm shift in faster-than-light particles? In fact, though last week’s event provided a few news morsels, most of it has been more of the same.

For the most part this is in fact, postive. Significantly, SAP has said that all mobile applications that it will now certify have to be compliant with the Sybase Unwired Platform, so the bedding in process of acquiring Sybase’s mobile platform must now be fairly complete. SAP HANA remains the main news and is proving to be a multi-layered animal that is having a positive impact on the company’s bottom line.

So what’s the view for the year ahead? Still more of the above it would seem as long as the company can fend off some of the additional criticism it will now almost certainly draw from Oracle. But hey, nothing changes.

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