Hasso Plattner, SAP's Hana visionary, discusses customer ERP adoption, cloud deployment, and Oracle's alternative.
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SAP's Hana in-memory platform is gaining steam, but is there a big-company, small-company split? In this exclusive interview, Hasso Plattner, SAP's Hana visionary, discusses customer adoption and cloud deployment.
Everyone agrees that in-memory systems are faster and represent the future. The crux of SAP's promise of "radical simplification" is that its Hana in-memory platform can handle both analytical and transactional workloads, thereby eliminating "redundant" infrastructure and separate copies of data.
SAP introduced Business Suite on Hana (transactional support) last year, and at Sapphire 2014 SAP highlighted first-wave adopters. But are we seeing a split, with smaller customers leading on ERP deployments while larger customers are sticking with analytics?
In this exclusive interview with InformationWeek, conducted back stage after his SapphireNow keynote, SAP co-founder and Chairman Plattner discusses the embrace of Hana, the in-memory platform he dreamed up seven-and-a-half years ago. He also discusses SAP's cloud strategy and a wave of "Simple" offerings being introduced to streamline applications and make the most of Hana's performance.
InformationWeek:We've seen quite a few customer references here at Sapphire -- Burberry, ConAgra, Colgate-Polmolive, John Deere, Mercedes AMG. Is there one that would be the best poster child for putting the SAP Business Suite on Hana? ConAgra, for example, seems like an analytical application.
Hasso Plattner: ConAgra built their modeling and simulation on the lowest level of granular data without changing the ERP system first. They thought that if they changed the ERP system first, they wouldn't get to the benefit of real-time modeling [soon enough]. They're going to work on the ERP system later, but other companies are doing it differently. Which company is the best example? It's tough to say because they're all in different stages of deployment.
IW:It seems like larger firms are starting with analytical deployments.
Plattner: That's because we were wimps and thought we'd go the easy way and do the read-only [analytical] applications first. My radical approach, if I may say so, scares people, but they're starting to see that they don't have to be scared.
John Deere asked me three years ago, "should we go big bang." I said, "I would start with the most rewarding application." They said, "that's predictive maintenance." They can save so much money with predictive maintenance. If we also revolutionize their financial system, it will do something for them, but it will not give them the financial impact they'll have with predictive maintenance, so they're doing that first and they start now to change their first manufacturing system.
SAP Chairman Hasso Plattner delivering the keynote address at SapphireNow 2014
IW:Meanwhile, all the Business Suite-on-Hana examples here seem to be smaller companies, like Bangkok Airlines, Mercedes AMG, and Kaeser. Is it harder to get large companies to put ERP on Hana?
Plattner: Actually, the large companies are very close. They're not only monitoring this opportunity, they are preparing for it. All of the large customers I'm familiar with are going to [move to Hana]. If there is any hesitation or lack of urgency, it's at the smaller companies. The larger companies are excited, and they're strategically working with us and moving. Even the super-large companies are all doing something [on Hana], and they're all talking strategically.
IW:Do you think many companies are holding back to see what they can do with in-memory table capabilities coming in Oracle 12c or already available from Microsoft [in SQL Server 2014]?
Plattner: I assume that their massive salesforce is having an impact. If I put myself in the shoes of Oracle, I would try to tell a story to delay these decisions. That's not slowing us down. We are close to the maximum speed [of Hana adoption] we can support with our services and partners. Our biggest limitation is how many [technical] people can be educated on Hana. That's why we're moving to free Massive Open Online Courses, because thousands of people have to learn and understand what is different about Hana. I've been working on this for seven and a half years, so I underestimate how much you have to reset your brain to understand the possibilities.
Doug Henschen is Executive Editor of InformationWeek, where he covers the intersection of enterprise applications with information management, business intelligence, big data and analytics. He previously served as editor in chief of Intelligent Enterprise, editor in chief of ... View Full Bio
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