The Village View

Thursday, September 28, 2006

SAP expands CRM On-Demand with service module

Services is the 3rd set of capabilities SAP launched for its CRM On-Demand product. (I blogged the original launch event here in New York back in February).

With all the press that (mostly rightly) gets, it's important to point out that the target market for SAP's On-Demand product is different. (Keep in mind SFdC's average number of users is around 20). The below is from my post on the initial launch.

Sales target- Groups/divisions within large enterprises with more then 100 users- upper segment of mid market- Non-SAP users among current SAP clients are major target- however, need not be a mySAP or R/3 client
-- Shai made a point that there are 60MM potential users. SFdC and Siebel on-demand have only several hundred thousands (less then 1%). Wide open market.
--Shai was asked why the upper mid-market was the first target. He answered that we had done the segmentations and that it was felt that this was the best place to start. While not specifically addressing downmarket, he did say that other segments would be addressed in the future. That was about as specific as I remember him being.

This is not to suggest that the two products will not compete (more) in the future. has been vocal about their desire to get larger enterprise clients and SAP is interested in moving down market. My sense, however, is that for the next couple of years, these products won't be going head to head.

BTW, what the heck are services capabilities?

The new capabilities include service ticket management, allowing customer service agents to monitor and comply with service level agreements. With multi-level categorization, agents can determine service levels and distribute service tickets based on priority, status, product and account type.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

SaaScon 2006

Jeff was there as well (actually spoke on a panel) and has some

My colleague Charles Zedlewski went to the Saascon conference in San Francisco and has a few comments. (Also, if you don't read his blog, I'd recommend it. He doesn't post that often, but when he does, damn if he isn't insightful).

The panel was light on contrarian views, so I found you needed to do some filtering to find the unique SaaS insights from the straw men the panelists enjoyed picking on.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Google's new New York digs & Skynet

I'm happy to welcome Google to the 'hood as it's good news for those of us in the tech industry in the City; options are always good. I just got back from the Valley and have been feeling some pressure to make a move out there. The more tech firms in NYC, the easier it is to justify staying here.

...the 300,000 square feet of space that Google plans to occupy in the heart of the city. It's a poorly kept secret that the company will soon open a huge new office and networking facility at 111 Eighth Avenue. Google's new base in the city will dump a sizable influx of Google employees into the social and professional environment of Chelsea and the West Village.

Here's what's really interesting:
"It turns out that one of the biggest global peering facilities is in New York City at 111 Eighth Avenue," St. Arnaud says, referring to the physical spots where tech firms hook up with one another. By positioning server farms in key locations like 111 Eighth Avenue, industry experts believe, Google is quietly, but systematically, building the most advanced computer network in history. "This is why Google is locating big server farms around the world," St. Arnaud says. installing itself above Chelsea's broadband "fiber highway" at 111 Eighth Avenue, St. Arnaud explained, Google can bypass many of the major telecommunications firms and interface directly with Tier 2 service providers such as Level 3 Communications or XO Communications, which also are located in the building. This will significantly cut down the costs associated with reaching business customers on Wall Street and in the media and fashion worlds, and generally throughout the Northeast power corridor from D.C. to Boston.

Although, I've got to say I'm a bit dubious of this claim:
others have suggested that Google is building something akin to Skynet, the malicious computer network that in The Terminator became "self-aware" and launched a war to destroy humanity.

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Friday, September 22, 2006

Jason Wood on Oracle's quarter

Jason presents a buy-sider's interpretation of Oracle's earnings announcement.

In many ways, Oracle's earnings release and conference call was atypical. Usually the company is fond of very detailed press releases and long conference calls chock full of details that were often meant, in my view, to obfuscate an inescapable fact; they were losing a lot of share to SAP.

Well this quarter, it was just the opposite. The textual component of the press release was only a bit more than one page, and the conference call was equally short as Larry, Safra and Chuck were in different locations so they limited Q&A to three analysts (the 'lucky three' being Jason Maynard -- CSFB, Peter Kuper -- Morgan Stanley, and Heather Bellini -- UBS).

Although Oracle appears to be backing up its rhetoric with results, the conference call was not without controversy. Larry Ellison took pains to attack SAP but made some bold proclamations that will be hard to back up with any evidence.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Ventoux (or van2.0 for those that are suffix besotted)

Fellow SAP-er and Enterprise Irregular Thomas Otter, will ride up Mt. Ventoux. As if this weren't heroic enough, he will be raising money for Warchild. He and his fellow riders even set up a wiki(guys, you shouldv'e used Socialtext!).
Please consider donating.

Here's a bit about the mountain from Wikipedia:

South from Bédoin: 22 km over 1610 m. This is the most famous and difficult ascent. The road to the summit has an average gradient of 7.6%. Until Saint-Estève, the climb is easy, but the 16 remaining kilometres have an average gradient of 10%. The last kilometres have strong, violent winds. The ride takes 2-3 hours for trained amateur individuals, and professionals can ride it in 1-1.5 hours.

A Reminder of the Facts

You see it's not just little ole subjective me. Finally somebody on the sell side is pointing out that revenues of Oracle and combined companies are actually down from a year ago. Also, provided clarity on a few of the other tidbits that were thrown out on the call.

This is from a Citigroup UK research report on SAP entitled, "A Reminder of the Facts" (bolding is mine)

* Oracle: Questionable Organic Growth — ORCL (ORCL.O - US$16.13; 1M) stated on its 1Q07 earnings call that it was "rapidly taking application market share" based on its headline 80% licence growth rate. However, pro forma licence revenues of the combined business were $249m in 2005 and thus licences have actually declined c8% y/y.

* SAP Product Roadmap on Schedule — ORCL also stated that "they've [SAP] just announced that they are delaying the next version of SAP application until 2010". The implication is that ORCL will have a 2-year product lead with Fusion. We think this is just not correct – SAP is on track to deliver the BPP in 2007 and continues to hold a 2-3 year product lead across its entire product portfolio.

* Underlying Market Resilient — What ORCL's results do show is that enterprise spending is robust. The better proxy for market demand is the infrastructure/database business which grew 15% and is less distorted by acquisitions. This maintained the improvement witnessed in ORCL's FY4Q06 and is a positive sign for the market and possibly SAP in the current quarter.
* SAP is the Axe of the Sector — ORCL's 12-month rolling GAAP EPS have grown 10% CAGR since CY4Q04 (pre PSFT acquisition). If SAP had spent $14.6bn on share buy-backs (ORCL's acquisition spend) over the same period, its EPS CAGR could have been 32%. Like-for-like SAP has shown it is creating more shareholder value than ORCL and this supports our view that it should trade on a premium rating.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Thoughts on Oracle Q1 '07 earnings announcement

so, not surprisingly, I've got a few thoughts on Oracle's earnings announcement yesterday. In general, I think you have to say that Oracle had a good quarter, generally meeting (and in Non-GAAP EPS exceeding) guidance/consensus. As is my style, I'll bullet point some things I thought were interesting or on which I think some color commentary would be helpful:

Growth Analysis

Q1 06
Q1 07
Oracle apps76
Total app license rev127

- From the above, you can see that Peoplesoft was the largest organic growth contributor (34M) with a 69% growth
- Probably largely due to pent up demand as a result of Applications Unlimited
- Peoplesoft to Fusion will be major re-implementation and customers may slow purchases again as Fusion approaches
- Oracle Apps was up 18% - 76M to 90M. Because this likely includes 2M of Portal, the "real" Oracle Apps growth rate is just under 16%. - i-flex was not expected to be included by the Street (think Oracle owns just over half). Without this 9M, App license rev was 219M (still above consensus of 213M)
- Siebel down from last comparable quarter (Siebel's Q3 05) of 112M to 31M). See my previous post.
- Organic growth was 47% over a pretty weak Q1 05

- If you compare Oracle + Siebel Q1 06 (using comparable Sept 05 quarter for Siebel) to Oracle (including acquisitions) Q1 07, new app license revenue is actually down about 5% - 239M (127 Oracle + 112M Siebel) to 228M
- The decrease is even larger if you compare to Oracle + combined pre-acquisition companies Q1 05

Oracle Assertions

Some of the statements made on yesterday's call (especially by Chuck and Larry) were in the ludicrous category. Oracle are great marketers, I'll give 'em that.

- It takes some big ones to say that SAP's SOA enabled applications are 2 years behind Oracle's Project Fusion Apps. Basically, they twisted statements Shai announced at TechEd about the "core" plus enhancement packages. mySAP ERP 2005, delivered on SAP NetWeaver (read SOA) , is the core ERP platform SAP delivered in June 05. SAP will release regular functionality enhancements that do away with the need for major upgrades through 2010. In other words, you don't have to rip out your system constantly in order to upgrade. This is a good thing, isn't it?

- I thought I heard Larry say something about more SAP customers on Fusion middleware than on NetWeaver. My sense is that somehow they are counting something they sell alongside the database as "Fusion MW." I'd be shocked if this statment were even remotely true with regards to the app server. Heck most Oracle customers (Peoplesoft, JDE, Siebel) aren't on Fusion middleware.

- I haven't seen anything to say that SAP is changing its acquisition strategy. All I heard Henning say was that SAP will continue to look at acquisitions as part of our strategy (at SAP they're generally around building out the product set, not acquiring customers).

- Oracle claimed 88 "head-to-head" wins against SAP. If you listened to the Q4 earnings call you heard Chuck claim they beat SAP 585 in fiscal 06. Jeff did a pretty good job of debunking that one. Call me dubious on this one too.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Oracle Earnings announcement - What's the deal with Siebel?

Ok, haven't had much time to digest this, and may post more later, but here's something that jumped out to me

- CRM - What's going on here? I think Safra said that Siebel contributed $31M to new app rev numbers (Organic i.e. EBS & PSFT was $186M, iFlex was 9M). Ok, so i went back and checked Siebel comparable quarter pre-acquisition. New software license was $112M. So what's the story? Did SAP (or kick the crap out of Siebel this quarter? Is some of that Siebel app rev being counted somewhere else? Maybe it's showing up in CRM, but in a different budget to show organic growth e.g. they sign a CRM deal that includes Siebel and EBS CRM component and count it as EBS and thus organic. Any ideas? (now, i heard that Oracle has put Siebel analytics revenue in the database & technology bucket, but I don't think that that revenue has ever accounted for more than a 1/3 again of what Oracle counts as Siebel software revenue. Meaning, i'd give them maybe another 8-10M in Siebel analytics revenue this quarter).

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Bloggers Corner at SAP TechEd

I was helping host the Bloggers' Corner at last week's TechEd (along with our great Comms guys: Mike Prosceno & Geoff Kerr). I had a dual role as a "Blogger" and as a liaison. (I was the only blogger that had an SAP affliation by the way, contrary to what some folks thought).

The others present were:
Michael Cote
Ismael Ghalimi
Tim Marman
Mike Masnick
Niel Robertson
Charlie Wood

here is a selection or TechEd blog postings from the Bloggers' Corner:

SAP TechEd '06: More Thoughts on SAP Enterprise Search
Technology: A case for Enterprise Widgets
SAP TechEd '06: SAP Tools Make Download Squad
SAP TechEd '06: TechEd Bloggers Accused of Bias
SAP TechEd '06: Stallgeruch
The New SAP
A Discussion with SAP's Shai Agassi
The SAP Developer Network (SDN)
Alleged Bias in the SAP Blogger's Corner
Building an ecosystem around SAP
Enterprise Search with SAP Argo
myERP 2005 as Business Process Platform
SAP TechEd 2006: Enterprise Search
SAP TechEd 2006: SAP Identity Management, Rails Goes Enterprise
SAP TechEd 2006: The SDN Clubhouse
SAP TechEd 2006: More Notes
SAP TechEd 2006: Applications/SOA Roundtable
SAP TechEd 2006: The New Services Platform
SAP TechEd 2006: All Coffee'd Up

Additionally, check out the podcasts from John and crew at

Also, a couple of my "key takeaways" (see McKinsey partners, I DID learn something):

- The bloggers know their s&*t. I was impressed by the level of detail these guys were able to go into when they were asking questions of SAP execs and developers. Additionally, Ismael, Cote and Charlie were schooling me on Oracle vs SAP middleware and PL/SQL vs ABAP vs Java at dinner on Tuesday night (yeah, bet you wish YOU were there). Four of these guys are running their own companies (Ismael, Charlie, Mike M., Niel). I learned a lot this week: from the execs, the presentations and, definitely, from my fellow bloggers. Thanks guys. (As an aside, they were also all pretty cool guys. We had a couple of dinners together and there was pretty good banter most of the time in the Bloggers Corner. I'm looking forward to seeing some of the guys at Office 2.0; Tim and I are gonna grab a beer here in NYC)

- SAP execs, management and developers got a lot out of interacting with the bloggers. Mike and Geoff and teams were able to set up a bunch of sessions with interesting SAP folks who are involved in developing product, driving stratgey and building communities. I'm not sure how many major software companies would go out of there way to schedule time with their executives to meet with with bloggers, but SAP did. Here's a partial list of whom the bloggers met with:
- Shia Agassi
- Zia Yusuf
- Nimish Mehta
- Kaj Van De Loo
- Mark Yolton
- Jeff Stiles
- Peter Graf
- Chris Hearn

- Being transparent is a good thing. You could argue that SAP takes something of a risk inviting (and paying for their expenses btw) of bloggers to attend two of their big conferences (SAPPHIRE, TechED). In addition to small gatherings with SAP execs, bloggers are free to attend sessions, receptions and generally mix and talk with SAP employees, partners and customers. There's no way SAP could control what the bloggers hear/write. It says something about the confidence a company has in its produts, service, strategy and employees to be this transparent. It also says that the company is interested in hearing criticism and suggestions. I thought that Tim Marman expressed it much better than I:
The other thing that is evident is that SAP is genuinely interested in engaging the blogging community. They've really gone out of their way to include the blogger's here in the conversation. They genuinely want to improve their transparency. They are doing a lot of things right, but people don't know it. They're also doing a lot wrong, but they're trying to remedy that.

- Another thing I heard from the bloggers is that by being at TechEd, they really learned more about SAP and/or gained clarity on some issues. In response to a question on SAP and Open Source (full disclosure, I asked the question) , Shai laid out a pretty solid picture of what SAP is doing in this area. Even if SAP could always do more, we've got a pretty good story in this area and SAP got an opportunity to share it with folks who understand the implications. (Ismael and Tim both included snippets on this in some of their postings). Some of the other bloggers who cover enterprise software, but may not have been itimately involved with it on a daily basis, say they will now follow SAP with much more detail. Considering that these guys have day jobs in which they work with, use, write about, and purchase or influence the purchase of enterprise software, this is a good thing.

A lot of credit SAP's blogger outreach goes to Jeff Nolan (who, unfortunately for me, as he was a great boss, just left SAP; I'm looking forward to working for Rob Halsey, the new Apollo Strategy lead). Jeff championed the idea from the beginning and found believers in his boss, Steve Mann, Mike P, and myself. I look forward to following in Jeff's footsteps and helping to drive SAP interaction with the blogging community.

Se fue el jefe - Jeff Nolan leaves SAP

My first reaction when Jeff told me he was leaving SAP was to drop the F Bomb. Not because I wasn't happy for him, but because I was bummed to being losing him as a boss. I had been reading his blog before I even interviewed with SAP. When in my first interview at SAP, I was told that Jeff would be my boss, I was pysched. I was very interested in the job, returning to the software industry and working for SAP, but after my interview with Jeff I was convinced. We spent about an hour just shooting the breeze about software. I remember leaving the Palo Alto office thinking, "I could learn a lot just being around this guy." And I have (and will continue to because he's on my "mentor" list of folks whose opinions I value and whose input I seek when thinking about my career). After my initial reaction, which I know that Jeff took as the compliment that it was, I congratulated him on his new (still not publicly announced) role.
Luckily for me, and the rest of the Apollo Strategy team, we're getting a great new boss as well. Rob Halsey is a former Coast Guard officer and, like me, a recovering consultant. He's very suppportive of the work Jeff initiated around social media (blogs, wikis, podcasts) in the enterprise. I've worked with him for almost a year and I'm fortunate that he's taking over the group.

In case anyone noticed, I have been 1) blogging less these last few weeks, and 2) increasingly difficult to get in touch with. The reason is that I resigned from SAP a couple of weeks ago and Thursday will be my last official day as an employee of the company; I’ve been busy cleaning up loose ends and decompressing.

Shai Agassi's Keynote at SAP TechEd

Finally got this up. I've got to stop being so 1.0 and taking written notes and then transcribing! Usual caveat: below is what I remembered/thought relevant/ had readable notes on from watching Shai's opening speech at TechEd. Enjoy.

Shai Agassi, President of the Product & Technology Group and member of the board at SAP gave the keynote speech yesterday at SAP TechEd 2006. Below are some of the key points he made and what I thought was particularly interesting:

Shai started out by welcoming the members of the new Business Process Experts Community. This is a group for business process pros that was officially announced yesterday.

Next he launched into the meat of his presentation. It was built around 4 "strategic IT projects" that customers should undertake.

  • Solidify the Foundation
    • Clean up & manage Master Data
      • If you don't have this in place, nothing else matters
      • This is the 1st step
    • Consolidate Application Infrastructure
      • Take out apps and related hardware that don't bring you value
    • Asses your organizational skill repository
      • Understand your peoples' skills and where they want to go
    • These are the pillars of the foundation and as such you need to do all of them
  • Modernize the Core
    • SAP has more than 12,000 developers working on innovation
    • The Core is based on MySAP ERP 2005
      • Think of this as Grand Central Station
      • Quoted a Fortune 1000 CIO, " you, SAP, can touch my core processes once every 5 years….but my CEO wants me to innovate every quarter."
        • There's an apparent dichotomy: innovate, but don't touch the core
    • SAP's answer: Enhancement Packages (this was one of the major new announcements of TechEd 2006)
      • These are optional packages that are extensions to the stable core of SAP ERP 2005.
      • The idea is to allow "continuous business innovation" without having to go through upgrades
      • Optional: with every enhancement package you can choose to install or not
      • Enhancement packages may have new functionality, industry-specific enhancements (e.g., Travel) and/or business services
    • Jeff Word came on stage to demo how SAP can help the customer make the business case for installing Enhancement packages
      • Demo of the MySAP ERP Solution Browser
        • Shows the functional description and business benefits of each enhancement package and the delta between those and where the customer is now
        • A user can export the analysis done by the browser to a Word document to build a business case for while the Enhancement packages should be installed
    • Multiple upgrade paths to MySAP 2005
      • Big Bang - immediate across the board (all divisions, functional areas)
      • By Instance - by Business, Subsidiary
      • By Function - General Ledger
    • SAP offers services in this area to get you there
      • Upgrade Check Services
      • Systems and Landscape Optimization
      • Quick Upgrade Evaluation
      • Accelerated Value Assessment
      • Data Expert Services
      • Testing Acceleration and Optimization
    • ASUG Benchmarking survery on customer upgrades
      • 86% meet or exceed functional expectations
      • 88% meet or exceed ROI expectations
      • 92% on-time
      • 94% within minimal variance of budget
  • Optimize Business Usage
    • Thrill Your Users
      • Offer user experience of choice
      • Not one way to use/access SAP - based on context
      • Duet, Mobile, Adobe Forms, Widgets, Portal, Voice, Dashboards, SAP GUI, RSS, Embedded
      • Take SAP into what users are doing
      • Shai and Jeff demoed different ways for Shai to reject Jeff's leave request
        • Showed the new SAP Portal which is Ajax enabled (to be launched next year)
        • Project Muse - new smart client
          • Same enterprise service was called for "reject leave" in both Portal and Muse
        • Duet
          • Rejected leave request right from Outlook mail by clicking on "reject" button in mail
        • Widgets - based on Yahoo widgets
          • (Check out Charlie Wood's posting on SAP widgets
          • Displayed Shai's "work list," Jeff's vacation day balance and buttons for accept/reject
        • Voice
          • Jeff's leave request caused a call to Shai's cell phone. Shai was able to say "reject" to reject the request
        • The above have shared UI services
        • User roles & profiles
        • Interaction model
        • Navigation
        • Single Sign On
        • Contextualized processes
        • Events & resolution
    • Leverage our (SAP's) Ecosystem
      • The Community wants you
      • Industry Value Networks
        • Place to be if "you want to affect innovation in your industry"
        • Common enterprise services definitions
        • Enterprise SOA best practices
        • Banking ES Definition group given as example
          • First delivery - 70 enterprise services specific for banks
        • SDN Community
        • Business Process Expert Community
        • Industry Titans - "Enterprise Services Ready"
        • SAP xApps Certified - Powered by NetWeaver
        • Enterprise Services Communities
    • Free Your Information
      • Business Intelligence Accelerator
        • Takes your Data Warehouse and improves price performance by 2 orders of magnitude
        • Performance - 10x faster, 1 Billion records analyzed in 3 seconds
        • Affordability - 10x less expensive to acquire, 20x less expensive to operate
        • Simplicity - off the shelf hardware, appliance set-up - 2 hours and you're up and running
      • What makes this possible now are a series of Technology and Architectural Drivers
        • Technology - Substantial improvements: CPU, Memory, Addressable Memory, Network Speed
        • Architecture - In memory data stores, multi-channel UI, application aware and intelligent data management
      • What hasn't changed: Accesing data from the database is still slow
      • Early Adopters have had success
        • Brown-Forman - With 650 M records, queries are running 300x faster
        • BP - 60M records and queries up to 250x faster
      • SAP Enterprise Search (New Introduction)
        • Business Intelligence Accelerator and SAP Enterprise Search = Ubiquitous Information Search
        • Free developer version available for download now on SDN; will be commercially available in 2007
    • Simplify Your Deployment
        • Hybrid deployment options
        • On Demand is fast
          • Useful deployment option if your processes are like others in your industry
          • On Premise is strategic
            • This gives your business more flexibility around process
          • There are customers with both deployment models
          • It's not a one or the other issue, you can deploy the way you see fit
  • Drive Strategic Innovation
    • The role of the CIO is forking
      • Chief Process Innovation Officer
        • Business person who understands process
        • Tasked with innovation of processes and how processes fit together
      • Chief IT Officer
        • Reposible to see that underlying systems are working 100% of the time
        • Squeeze out inefficiencies
    • Different skill sets or groupings will be needed
      • Consolidators
        • Look at systems and how to consolidate
        • "running fast on a treadmill"
        • Work for CITO
      • Repository Keepers
        • Charged with maintaining enterprise services repository
      • Composers
        • Plug language of business into services
      • Disruptive innovators
        • Figure out those things which can't yet be coded
    • Announced 2nd version of Discovery System
      • A pre-configured "sandbox" for test driving Enterprise SOA
      • "ESA in a box"
      • Core processors with NetWeaver and tools
    • Announced NetWeaver Composition Environment
      • Simplified composition environment
      • Application server, compositions tool, composite framework
    • Announced xApps Hub - code named Project Sidecar
      • Connects community that builds composites with community that uses composites
      • Lean comsumption model for composition
      • Risk-free testing and development
      • Plug and play tool - "Innovation without disruption" - "iTunes for xApps"

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Ismael on Open Source NetWeaver

A couple of folks from that deal with open source issues at SAP came by and talked to the Bloggers' Corner yesterday. They talked about how SAP customers can use a mix of development models/environments and talked a bit about what SAP is doing with scripting languages (and how this was in response to community demand).

Ismael Ghalimi raised a question in this session that is close to his heart: Why not make parts of NetWeaver open source? He likened it to what Sun did with with J2EE and opined that doing so would extend the base of ISV partners. He thinks that the roadblocks are solvable.

Response from SAP open source contigent:
IBM has done some great stuff with Eclispe. IBM primarily benefits because they have a services business. Open sourcing allows them to come into services model(To which Ismael stated that Websphere license sales is a $5B business).
SAP cold theoretically do it, but there are differences from a pure infrastructure provider. SAP infrastructure is linked very tightly to the applications. There are however, potentially, parts that could be open sourced. SAP is watching those spaces closely to see how they develop. SAP has historically been a very honest company and only delivered software that customers really want and that doesn't damage the customers environment. The feeling is that parts of the open source market are still maturing and that SAP is gaining experience and evaluating the situation. (Mark's note: SAP is doing a lot in the open source area: investor in MySQL & Zend, one of first ERP systems to run on Linux, contributions to various open source communities/projects).
Ismael asked with which community SAP has the closet relationship: Eclispe. SAP contributes and is on the board.
What is SAP's vision or wish for open source in 5-10 years?
Answer: In the end, it shouldn't matter. SAP customers want three things: stability, flexibility and cost. SAP's goal is to provide software that provides all 3; if SAP does it with open source or proprietary software, it shouldn't matter.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Scoble & Shai - the audio

As promised, here's the post on Scoble's interview with Shai. I believe there should be a video coming soon.
If you want to go directly to the audio, here's the link

The audio from my interview yesterday with Shai Agassi, one of seven people on SAP’s executive board, is now up on Podtech. Shai has a unique view of the world of business (SAP is used by most of the world’s biggest businesses) and we talk about the trends he’s seeing, along with a little bit about what SAP announced today at its TechEd developer confab.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Intro to Building Apps Webinar

after seeing the presentation at the AppExchange developer seminar in New York, I'm pretty sure that even I could "develop" one of these apps.
Now, I can watch the video if I need a refresher.

TechEd photos care of Charlie Wood

First real day of TechEd. Went to Shai's keynote this morning (will post later). Then there was a briefing with Peter Graf (Solution Marketing) and Zi Yusuf (ISV/Partners) for press, analysts and yes, bloggers.

Went for sushi last night with Charlie Wood and Ismael Ghalimi. Charlie has taken a bunch of photos, including a not very flattering one of me.

Here's some more:

Press room

Scoble and Shai Agassi

Monday, September 11, 2006

PodTech.Net at SAP TechEd

Robert Scoble and John Furrier, both of PodTech.Net are at TechEd. They've been walking around recording (video and audio) folks at the conference. In addition, they are doing some podcasts with SAP execs.

I'll post a link to the podcasts once they are up.

here's a picture of Scoble interviewing Shai Agassi (thanks to Charlie Wood for this pic):

SAP announces enterprise search

UPDATE: Check out the tips from my colleagues Andrew & Craig in the comments on how to download Enterprise Search. Thanks guys!

At TechEd today SAP announced its enterprise search product. Described as:

a new application that allows information workers to easily locate and leverage critical business data from internal and external sources

I've heard the term information worker used internally to refer to "knowledge workers" many of whom aren't accessing SAP today. Usually they have to go thru a 3rd person e.g., a power user to get information in/out of the system. Search is a way to get these users access to SAP. I've hear this internally "enterprise search makes SAP instantly useable for everbody."

The cool thing about this search product is that in addition to giving you just search results, it gives you what SAP is calling "business context." For the rest of us this means you can take actions on the results. For example, if you do a search on all your customers in Manhattan, you get the customer master record. From here you can go ahead and enter a transaction; for example, enter an opportunity. You can also access Business Intelligence functionality from the results.

Another thing to note is that the search is not purely text-based, but rather takes into account the SAP data schema as well as the user's permissions and roles. Not all information will be accesible to all users.

The product can be federated with different search engines as well different backends (so you can search your Oracle/Siebel apps for example). Additionally, the search algorythms are extensible.

There's a trial version that is availale as of today (Can't find the link on SDN!!!!!), with a production version in 2007.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

ZDNet interview with Shai Agassi

As a run up to SAP TechEd, fellow Irregular Dan Farber has posted a video interview he did recently with Shai Agassi, president of SAP's Product and Technology Group (essentially the development organization).

...he[Agassi] said that the software industry is in a transition period in which the fundamental rules governing platforms are changing...."When that book is written, no company will be able to sustain itself without this technology[SOA]."

Given Oracle's claims around wins versus SAP during their Q4 earnings call, I'm glad this was mentioned:

he knows of no company that has converted from SAP to Oracle...

Socialtext meeting

Went by the Socialtext offices in Palo Alto on Thursday and had a great chat with the folks there. One of the things we talked about is how we can get information from the wiki into the SAP NetWeaver Portal and vice versa. Now that Socialtext has released their API this should be very doable. I think there are likely applications for both within SAP (we use the SAP NetWeaver Portal to power the SAP Corporate Portal obviously) and for our joint customers. There are several groups within SAP that have asked for this and we're looking at developing a use case to prove that it can work. Stay tuned.

Kirsten Jones of Socialtext came by the SAP Palo Alto offices on Friday and set me up with some admin and management reports so that I can better monitor who's using the wiki, how much etc. Right now we have over 30 workspaces on our appliances with a couple hundred users.

Also, special thanks to Socialtext marketing guru Julia French. She knew I was spending the weekend in San Francisco (between Palo Alto visit and TechEd in Las Vegas) and took me to a great sushi restaurant in Japantown on Friday evening and even showed me the hospital where I was born. Thanks Julia!

Monday, September 04, 2006

SAP TechEd

I'm heading to SAP TechEd in Las Vegas next week. I'll be at the event starting Monday, Sept 11 thru Wednesday (night) Sept 13. Let me know if you're going and would like to meet up or if you'd like me to ask/find out about anything in particular. I hope to blog fairly extensively about my experience. A few of the other Irregulars will be there too: Charlie Wood, Niel Robertson, Jeff Clavier.

Postings may be a bit light as I'm traveling this week as well. : in Boston today/tomorrow and then SAP Palo Alto office on Thursday/Friday.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Irregulars podcast with Marten Mickos, CEO of MySQL

Yesterday our group of enterprise software bloggers, the Irregulars, recorded a podcast with Marten Mickos, CEO of MySQL. While the recording is being sent to us (by CD from the conference call hosting company. Very old school for a group of such cutting edge folks) I thought I'd give you a taste. What follows are my notes of the call. Please note they are not complete as I may not have written everything down (and I did get interrupted once). We're hoping to have the podcast done by early next week.


Erik Keller, Wapiti LLC (moderator)

Mark Crofton, SAP

Dan Farber, ZDnet

Jeff Nolan, SAP

Thomas Otter, SAP

Charlie Wood, Spanning Partners (btw, Charlie wrote a bit about the call too.)

Erik started off by asking Marten what the basic misconceptions around open source are

  • Marten Mickos: Open Source (OS) is not a business model or a market, but rather a production method (it consists in fact of several markets).
  • The misconception has positive and negative effects on MySQL. On one hand the exposure of OS is good, but it tends to get lumped into the wrong business models often

Is MySQL interested in the traditional (client/server) business applications market

  • It's a sizeable market, but fairly locked up with existing vendors; a lot of inertia and difficulty getting customers to migrate to a new database
  • That's why MySQL focused on new types of software applications which includes Web 2.0, but is really broader than that
  • A lot of applications are still being built, so the market is not shrinking. However, most companies already have applications such as payroll, HR etc (this is not growing).
  • What is new is that innovation is happening in the consumer space and going to the enterprise space (previously the direction was often the opposite)

Are SAP, Accenture et. al. not necessarily the best partners?

  • This is not necessarily the right conclusion because the leaders of the "Old World" see the changes
  • SAP is one of the companies that sees the changes that are happening and that's why MySQL partners with SAP.

MM: There is need for new software because users have more advanced demands

  • End user demands put new demand on infrastructure - it needs to scale quickly (scale out architecture)
  • Need architecture that allows you to add resources where you need them.
  • Open Source software has the best solutions for "scaling out"
  • Look at MySQL customer RightNow - no outages, linear (and inexpensive) expansion

Question: Is MySQL appropriate for SaaS, can it scale out cheaply?

  • Ask our customers (see RightNow above)

Question: why don't you have traditional players like Accenture as partners

  • Inertia - Microsoft, Oracle, IBM are dominant and utilize various forms of lock-in e.g., they make it difficult to migrate off of

Question: What about the new / different companies and new types of software

  • That's what's happening
  • Companies may have DB2 or Oracle for legacy apps, but use MySQL for new apps e.g., those with Web front ends

Question: What is the effect of Oracle's open source acquisitions on MySQL and open source

  • Best validation of open source, but Oracle buying open source companies doesn't affect the open source world

Thoughts on Ingres/EnterpriseDB

  • Going after a market, i.e., Oracle's, that MySQL is not going after.
  • Why is the market not interesting - Slow moving, inertia, entrenched players

Question from Mark Crofton, ehh moi: What resources and strategies are you employing to increase the number of downloads which convert to paying customers?

  • It's a long path from downloads to paying customers
  • 50,000 downloads a day
  • Key finding: many of those who download the software will never become paying customers themselves. They are the DBAs and Web Masters of the world. However, they can become champions within the company.
  • Follow-up question: what specifically are you doing then to get those business users who might indeed be in the position to make a purchase do so
  • MySQL uses newsletters and webinars aimed at business users
  • Sometimes a download will lead directly to a sale as in the case of Travelocity

Question from Dan Farber around the future of the hybrid open source proprietary model (have a few version for download and a paid, proprietary version)

  • Market doesn't seem to mind the hybrid model and therefore over the next 5 years or so you will likely see more of the this model
  • Free open source version plus a version with extra features for paying customers

Question from Jeff Nolan around the economics of the software business in which you have an upfront license fee (covers the cost of building and selling software) and a maintenance fee (where successful companies carefully manage their customers to insure the flow of maintenance dollars). The MySQL model is different in that there is no upfront license fee. Therefore, if one were a start up open source company, what are the key things you would need in your business model?

  • All companies have to spend on R&D and this is not going away. Even Red Hat spends on R&D.
  • However, the way you sell your product can be different. Start up open source companies should be careful not to fall inot trap of traditional software sales model.
  • Part of this is educating the market about what you will and won't do in your sales process. MySQL, for example, will not do "proof of concepts;" they explain to the prospective customer that this is part of why they can sell the product so cheaply.

Question from Thomas Otter: What would you say to SAP CEO Henning Kagermann if you had one hour with him?

  • Would suggest ways of moving into the online space. Look for open platforms that are emerging and build them into NetWeaver.
  • What about a message for what SAP needs to do this year?
  • Focus spending on NetWeaver and opening it up even more

Question from Charlie Wood ("happy MySQL user): Please comment on Adam Bosworth's presentation from the 2005 MySQL users' conference, in which he suggested that MySQL work with Google, presumably to offer a Google-powered storage engine for MySQL, to, "handle hundreds of millions of queries a day," and "scale up and out in ways that Oracle could only dream of." Can you envision such a collaboration?

  • Important to keep in mind that Adam's proposal was mostly technical, but yes, MySQL, could do that.
  • What many fail to realize is that the world's largest database today is the Google search index. It's an amalgamation of many small sources.
  • Follow up question: Recently Amazon has made several announcements about online, pay-as-you-go infrastructure services including storage (S3), message queuing (SMS), and compute power (EC2). Can you envision MySQL offering a similar database service?
  • This is the database "dial tone" and is a different question from the Google one. Not sure that this is MySQL's core competency, but hopefully whoever does this would use MySQL database to do it.

Question from Erik Keller: Where do you see MySQL (and other open source databases) in 2-3 years (in both general use and enterprise software).

  • For enterprises: many more running on open source databases. However, should not expect open source databases to be only databases in an enterprise. Look at Dell, all there data centers don't use Dell hardware.
  • MySQL will come in expanding on existing infrastructure. People are becoming more intense data users with BI, Data marting and data streaming becoming more common.
  • See MySQL growing outside of traditional ERP