The Village View

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Shai Agassi to Leave SAP

From the SAP Press Release:
SAP AG today announced that it will extend the responsibilities of its executive management team to reinforce the company’s growth strategy. These changes come with the announcement of the departure of Executive Board member Shai Agassi, who by mutual agreement with the company, will leave to more quickly commit himself to his personal agenda of environmental policy and alternative energy sources, and other issues. In making this announcement, SAP confirms its commitment to the company’s current product and platform strategy, and its dedication to the success of SAP customers and partners.

From fellow Irregular Josh Greenbaum:
Doug Merritt, currently an EVP at SAP in Palo Alto, will get the lion's share of global responsibility for product, and will take ownership of Duet, GRC, and some of the other successes that Agassi helped initiate. Jim Hagemann Snabe, will take over responsibility for the MySAP suite, and in general get a much-deserved higher profile in the company. Peter Graf will gain an elevated position in global marketing. I'll profile some of the other changes as they become known. Other power-hitters, like Leo Apotheker, Kraus Kreplin, Peter Zencke, and others are staying put or moving into more important roles...

From ex-SAP-er Jeff Nolan:
SAP is a complex culture and an even more complex organization, I suspect a lot of people will view this as Palo Alto vs. Walldorf, or the Return of Zencke, but the reality is far less dramatic. The bottom line is that life will go on, the depth of the bench will reveal itself...

From resident curmudgeon Vinne Merchandani:
Shai's biggest contributions to SAP - charisma, and talent recruitment, especially in Palo Alto
biggest liability - I thought was too much focus on SOA, NetWeaver, platform issues - not enough on applications which is after all SAP's core strength.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Desktop search: I switched to Microsoft

I recently downloaded and installed Microsoft Windows Desktop Search. I had been using Copernic because Jeff Nolan sent me the executable directly after SAP's image refresh kept deleting Google Desktop search. Copernic had been working decently well, but many searches didn't turn up files that I knew (just knew) were on my desktop (and yes, my index was up to date). Also, I couldn't figure out how to run Boolean searches on it. And some of you may groan at this, but I like the Microsoft UI better than the Copernic one. One of the things I haven't really tested yet is the "CorpPortal" button which portends to search the SAP corporate portal. The search feature we currently have on our intranet does not leave me very happy, so if this tool does any better, I'll be even more pleased with my switch. I'll let you know.

(Written early in the morning at the Au Bon Pain at JFK American Airlines terminal)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Economy - 2007 and Beyond

I'm at the CFO Rising conference in my home region of Central Florida (we're about 30 miles south of downtown Orlando). David Wyss, Chief Economist at Standard & Poor's gave a talk today with the title of this blog post. Here's a few things that I took note of:

How hard a landing?

* 1/3 chance of a recession (same thing Greenspan is predicting
*US growth rate of 2.5% and inflation of 2.5%
* In the 70-80's this would have been considered a boom
What could turn this into a hard landing?
* Oil prices
*Wyss thinks oil prices will stay around $60/barrel (S&P forecast)
*If it doesn't oil could become a major disruptive force
*Long run he's pessimistic about oil prices especially given China/India demands
* We know where oil is going (non-Japan Asia), just not sure where it's going to be coming from
*Oil price increase would have a smaller impact on US economy now than years ago
*The US has become more efficient in use of oil (per $1000 of GDP)
*Oil is smaller part of overall US energy use
*Federal Reserve
*He's "pretty sure" that the Fed is done raising rates
*However, inflation is still higher than the Fed would like
*By summer the Fed may begin to lower rates
*Expects rates to be down to 4.5% by summer of 2008
*Short term rate movements are having less of an effect on long term rates
*Foreign money is coming into US private bonds which has held bond yields down
*Quality spreads are getting tighter
*Spread between Investment grade & Treasurys - 130 bps
*2/3 of what is used to be
*Similar with Junk bonds
*Don't expect this to continue as it was largely based on low default rates which are expected to increase
*Spreads are expected to widen back out
*Financial Risk is greater
*More junk rated bonds today
* Fewer companies have high ratings
*6 AAA non-financial companies in the US
*Expensive to be AAA and not much reward (tightened spreads)
*Corporate debt has dropped
*Debt/net worth (lowest since '85)
*Cash flow / debt service (coverage ratio reached a record last year of 4)
*However, borrowing companies have a coverage ratio of 2.2
*US is lowest in debt to GDP
*US - 240%
*Japan - 350% (largely b/c of gov't debt)
*Europe - (largely because of bank loans)
*Most global GDP growth is coming from Asia
*69% on a PPP basis
*China, India and US accounted for 56% of global GDP growth
US budget deficit not worrying in the short term, but does worry Wyss in longer term
* Large number of retiring Baby Boomers
*Will require Social Security reform, but this not likely to happen until we hit the crisis point
*Trade deficit is bothering him
*Bigger than budget deficit and is "owed" to foreigners
*It's unsustainable, but this has been said for the last 35 years
*There are countries with a trillion $ surplus; someone has to have the deficit - that is largely the US
US trade deficit has come down recently, largely as the EU trade surplus has shrunk
*As the US and EU find themselves with deficits, this could cause trade-restrictive legislation to become more prevelant
US Employment is coming back
*Heart of recovery is US consumer
*Living beyond our means
*Negative savings rate
*Household debt has hit a record, but wealth has gone up
*Assets have gone up quicker than liabilities
Housing is making Wyss nervous
*Home ownership is up - in 1994 it was 64%, and now it's 69%
*Average home price / average income ratio hit record in 2006
*Most rise in average home price is due to people building/buying larger homes than in the past
*175 sq ft larger than 10 years ago
*Home prices have started to level off or drop
*All though not necessarily in markets where there was the largest increase
*Housing bubble was global b/c interest rates are now global -> cheap housing
*What will leveling/decling house prices do to economy?
*People were using houses as ATMs thru home equity loans - pulling cash out of homes
Stock market
*Return to normal volatility; expect volatility to remain higher than it has been the last few years

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Spanning Sync v1.0 Now Available

Charlie Wood's company, Spanning Partners, released the commercial version of Spanning Sync v1.0 today. I've blogged about Spanning Sync, which is a service that syncs Apple iCal with Google Calendar bidirectionally, before.

Comments about the product/service's functionality have been positive, but Charlie's getting hammered in the comments on the Spanning Sync blog on the pricing: $25 one-year subscription or $65 one-time. Despite that pushback, Charlie says that Spanning Sync "passed our first-day sales goal within 45 minutes of posting the announcement."

Looks like Charlie is going to stick to his guns, which I think is the right move. He obviously did an analysis of what his costs were going to be and came up with a price he thought was reasonable. My sense is that a lot of the folks complaining wouldn't be happy with $15/year either. They say they would, but I think a lot of them don't want to pay for something that they've gotten free before. Personally, if you're not willing to pay what it costs two people to go to the movies (w/o popcorn no less) for a piece of productivity software that you're going to use several times a week, then you don't deserve to use it. End of story.

(written at the bar in the Las Vegas airport, using the free wireless!)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Unexpected Salesforce Shutdown Hurts Partners

I've blogged about unplanned outtages before. Seems this time the outtage of the AppExchange (or Apex I believe, if we're following the new branding) was planned, but poorly communicated to the partners.
"That technology fails, we understand. The failure to communicate, we do not."

The end users of the products that run on the platform didn't call SFdC, but rather the ISVs that provide them with the end solution.
"Our customers think it's our fault; we looked like fools this week for suggesting they visit the AppExchange to access the product," the partner said

Likely just a bump in the road for SFdC, but it does show that in the multi-tenant SaaS model, a single mistake/miscommunication can affect many users across many customers. The sys admin or app support guy for an on premise solution just has to worry about pissing off users at one company. (of course, some of those users likely sign his paycheck, so.....)

(Posted from Email Station at the GRC2007 conference at The Venetian in Las Vegas)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Welcome Oracle to the Eclipse Board....we've been here all along

Oracle announced today that it became a Board Member of the Eclipse Foundation. I think this is great news, especially for a company that runs so many ads about being "open." (Love that PL/SQL btw).
SAP, which is often on the receiving end of the "open" attack ads by Oracle, has been a Board Member since it was formed in 2004.

Demand for SAP talent up; shortage of SAP skills

This is a bit of a double - edged sword: uptick in demand because SAP has been doing well, especially an "uptake" among smaller and mid-size companies, but that raises the problem of potentially slowing implementations because of not enough qualified talent. Good time to be someone with SAP knowledge as salaries are rising and companies are investing more in training their in-house SAP experts.
If this shortage turns out to be short term as the market reacts, then it's likely a sign of a healthy ecosystem and continued job security for folks with SAP knowledge. Damn, maybe I should have learned ABAP.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Good fences make good neighbors

Switzerland's army marched into neighboring Liechtenstein this week. But easy-going Liechtenstein seemed to take it in stride.
"It has happened before," Liechtenstein government spokeswoman Gerlinde Manz-Christ told ABC News. "Nobody really realized it."