SAP Braces For Change - InformationWeek

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SAP Braces For Change

New sole-CEO Leo Apotheker wants the enterprise-software powerhouse to be more responsive to customers.

Apotheker at the Sapphire Conference.

The product is a combination of the Polestar user interface developed by Business Objects and SAP's in-memory database, Business Warehouse Accelerator, and T-Rex search engine. SAP is working with Dell, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM to optimize hardware for Explorer, which it will begin selling this summer. SAP will offer a cloud-based testing environment, where customers can try Explorer with their own data.

However, the first version will work only with SAP's NetWeaver Business Warehouse, limiting its value for companies that use more than SAP as their data stores. Early testers of Explorer from Molson Coors and Sara Lee bubbled with enthusiasm. However, others wondered just how much work would be required to get the product to search for topics and words in non-SAP data repositories.

In his Sapphire keynote, Apotheker sought to "kill a rumor" about the death of Business ByDesign, SAP's ERP-as-a-service offering that was sent back to the drawing board after an unsuccessful introduction. CTO Vishal Sikka suggested SAP may need to replace as much as 70% of the internal workings of Business ByDesign to get the costs down to what SAP requires. Plattner said a market-ready product will become available within two years.

Eighty early adopters are using a prerelease version of Business ByDesign. Apotheker wouldn't disclose whether that version uses a multitenant or single-tenant configuration. "Who cares?" he said. "What matters to customers is SAP has solved some very interesting technology challenges with Business ByDesign."

SAP already offers on-demand applications in areas such as CRM and procurement, and will expand its SAP On-Demand offerings into human resources (talent management, contractor management, etc.), as well.

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