You can't fault SAP for a lack of vision. Since taking charge of the company 15 months ago, co-CEOs Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe have consistently hammered away on the themes of mobile, in-memory, and on-demand innovation. The hard sell at this week's Sapphire user conference was not so much about products as it was about what customers can do to transform their businesses.
That's not to say there weren't plenty of platform, product, and partnership announcements at Sapphire. On the mobile front, the company introduced the 2.0 version of the Sybase Unwired mobile platform, newly integrated with SAP application infrastructure and complemented by a software development kit for custom mobile app development. SAP announced 19 new SAP and Sybase mobility applications, set to debut in September. Dozens of partners on the show floor demoed mobile apps--invariably shown on tablet computers--built on SAP apps and infrastructure.
On the in-memory computing front, SAP chairman Hasso Plattner announced that the Hana appliance will be available in general release at the end of June, and he claimed 20X performance gains and big hardware cost savings tied to data compression and elimination of redundant storage and management layers.
CTO Vishal Sikka presented, by way of video testimonials, more than a dozen Hana pilot deployments by customers including BSH Bosch and Siemens, Caterpillar, Colgate Palmolive, Nestle, and Procter & Gamble.
The in-memory appliance delivers speedy analysis of both large-scale data and "real, real-time" data, meaning up-to-second data from transactional systems. Sikka noted "renewed and reimagined" capabilities such as instant profitability, customer, and workforce analysis, what-if simulation and planning, and real-time reporting.
Among several "completely new, never-before-possible" applications, Sikka shared a video testimonial from Canoe, a cable company joint venture that has a pilot application running on Hana that customizes delivery of ads to millions of individual cable subscribers in real time based on what they're viewing at the moment--which programs they’re watching, while they’re watching them, and which commercials they view and which ones they skipped and changed channels.
SAP also announced Hana Cloud, an Internet-delivered version of Hana. Customer Glen De Vries, president of Medidata Solutions, offered a live, iPad-based demo of the company's on-demand drug-clinical-trial platform with a new Hana-Cloud-based reporting and analysis application. De Vreis said embedded Hana Cloud services will enable Medidata's drug-company customers to quickly analyze billions of rows of patient data to monitor the progress, and cost, of clinical trials.