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Insights from SAPinsider BI 2011 and IT 2011 keynotes

by Graceanne Bowe

March 15, 2011

The rise of the consumer and greater emphasis on TCO reduction were the themes of today’s keynote at the SAPinsider BI 2011 and IT 2011 conferences in Las Vegas. Over 1,000 SAP customers gathered to hear leading SAP executives expound on these themes and provide insight into SAP’s strategy for empowering customers to excel in these areas. 

Dave Weisbeck, senior vice president of BI and enterprise information management at SAP, emphasized the unprecedented and user-friendly access consumers now have to technology in the form of smartphones, tablet computers, and other devices.  They are relying on these devices more and more to access the business information they need to do their jobs better, and companies that wish to be successful need to enable consumer-friendly access to systems, data, and analytics.  Having a few dedicated specialists building and distributing reports is no longer the most efficient or effective way to get information out—users want to be able to pull the information they need and view it in a graphical format.  Weisbeck discussed the solutions SAP is creating to empower end users to do just that. 

Weisbeck introduced the audience to SAP High Performance Analytical Application (HANA), an in-memory based analytics solution that can be used to analyze extremely high data volumes at a high rate of speed and perform complex calculations on the fly.   He also provided some insight into what it coming with the SAP BusinessObjects 4.0 release, such as the ability to perform analytics on event-based data, such as stock trades, in order to respond better to events in a short amount of time.  The new Information Steward is designed to improve governance of  both structured and unstructured data, giving consumers greater confidence and trust in reports and analytics.  New mobile analytics presented in graphical, interactive views are designed for compatibility with touch screen displays—they do not simply retrofit the SAP desktop experience to mobile devices. 

All these new solutions, according to Weisbeck, are designed to help companies run better and smarter.   But what about cost?  How do companies take advantage of the new software and still reduce TCO?  

Enter Jason Fox, National VP of IT Transformation Services at SAP.  In his address, he outlined five specific ways that customers can increase efficiency and reduce TCO through a more simplified approach to IT. 

Mobility: Given the diverse array of devices, operating systems, and programming languages in the mobile space, there is a great deal of confusion about how to mobilize enterprise applications.  As a first step toward enabling customers, SAP acquired Sybase.  The company also developed the SAP Unwired Platform to streamline and integrate mobile apps with back-end systems.  Raymond Pace, whom Fox referred to as one of the “best mobile programmers in the world,” stepped on stage to demonstrate the SAP Early Alert Monitor, which is used to develop a single business application that can be deployed to multiple mobile platforms, such as BlackBerry, iPhone, and Android. The EAM allows users to manage back-end SAP systems that are connected to SAP Solution Manager.

Fox introduced Afaria, a management tool that distributes applications to any mobile device, secure them, and wipe data fro m lost devices.  Fox noted that Sybase reduced TCO by allowing users to buy their own devices (no hardware costs to the company) and access applications via Afaria. 

Fox offered a single piece of advice for customers considering mobility:  Develop a mobile strategy that addresses issues like who gets a mobile device, and should the company standardize on a single platform or allow multiple platforms.

Fox moved on to virtualization as a means to reducing TCO.   SAP is running its entire landscape on a virtual platform.  The potential to reduce hardware and maintenance costs is tremendous, and SAP has not faced any significant back-up or security challenges. With regard to cloud computing, SAP is running a virtual private cloud on Amazon Web Services (AWS).  The cost is roughly 50 cents per hour, and SAP pays only for the time they use, rather than paying 24/7 for internally run systems.   Online training is currently delivered via AWS, and with Amazon Cloud being PCI certified, data is safe and secure. 

Fox provided a glimpse into the future of SAP Solution Manager.  While a few new features are not quite ready for prime time, customers can expect an enterprise resource planning tool that fits IT needs, ITIL-certified application lifecycle management, flexible ChaRM that allows advanced task lists, use of multiple test systems, and early warnings of potential issues.  Customers will soon be able to better plan and optimize their IT resource needs and prevent system problems before they occur. 

SAP NetWeaver 7.3 improvements in Process Integration, the portal, and Business Process Management could lead to a reduction in energy consumption costs.  There is greater interoperability than ever before between the SAP NetWeaver Portal and other portals su ch as Microsoft SharePoint. New single stack Java is far less expensive than the dual ABAP/Java stacks. 

If you are attending either the BI 2011 or IT 2011 events in Las Vegas, we’d love to know what you thought of the keynote.  Please take a moment to post your comments here.

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