Since forcing out former CEO Leo Apotheker three months ago and offering a brutally candid assessment of his company, SAP founder and chairman Hasso Plattner has been keeping a relatively low profile. But with the company's Sapphire global customer event coming up in 10 days, Plattner has resurfaced in an intriguing 8-minute video extolling a new technology that SAP believes will give it enormous competitive advantages against Oracle based on raw speed for applications and interactions.
Saying that "the relational database has been around for more than 20 years and is the backbone of most enterprises," Plattner asserts that "there is a revolution coming on the applications side based on speed" and that, after two decades of business computing being built around the same database technology, "it's time for a change."
That change, Plattner says, will be centered on in-memory databases and the breakthrough his labs have helped pioneer that allows not only rows but also columns to be deployed, requiring much less space and enabling much greater speeds.
And the resulting capability will allow users to execute real-time predictive analytics and multistep queries, Plattner says, which could have a profound impact on the business world as companies in every industry are striving to accelerate the processes by which they manage transactions, interact with customers, and analyze that data to uncover future opportunities and other advantages.
Oh yes—speaking of breakthroughs, I mentioned above that Plattner interviews himself, and as strange as it sounds (and looks), that's exactly what happens—and it's particularly effective when the subject of Larry Ellison comes up. (Through some slick video technology and editing, the Plattner on the left—casually dressed, deep tan, flowing hair—is interviewed by the Plattner on the right, who's dressed nattily in suit and tie and sports a neatly trimmed haircut.)
"One of the leading experts in the field of databases, Larry Ellison, calls this idea 'wacko, ridiculous, complete nonsense,' and that's on his website," says Plattner the interviewer. "How do you take that?"
Responds Plattner the interview subject, "I don't know what 'wacko' is, but as an expert as he is, I'm pretty sure that he reads all the publications in the field of databases and a lot of stuff has been published recently."
After naming a few of the database advances discussed in those articles, Plattner the subject says of Ellison, "I think he knows about this, and he knows it is coming."
Plattner the interviewer then asks if Plattner the subject is bothered or concerned by Ellison's criticisms and arguments, and whether that criticism will result in holding the new technology back from customers. Here's the excellent response: