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... blogging on what is happening in enterprise software, with a focus on Future of Work and Next Generation Applications, sparkled with occasional musings on the the state of the industry and outlooks where we are heading.

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    For most of the life of enterprise software we have seen the classic separation between transactional and analytical applications. OLTP vs OLAP is as old as data warehouses have been around.


    A recent discussion on LinkedIn though triggered some thinking, discussion and research for me - and question the traditional, conventional wisdom.


    Why did we separate OLTP and OLAP?

    Right it was for a few relevant reasons, but mainly
    • Storage Cost
      Let's keep in mind the venerable relational database concept was also created to save disk space. For 98% of the life of computing, disk space has been the critical and expensive resource.
      But that time is over - when you see that a smart start up like BackBlaze can offer unlimited backup for as little as $3.95 per month - with internal costs for one TB being around 50 cents. It will be hard to challenge any IT budget on disk cost these days.
    • Performance
      The transactional systems were tuned to allow good insert record performance - not so much for the need of reporting, creating dimensions on the data (or facts). So information needed to be stored in a different way.
      But that time seems to be getting over, too - when you see that, thanks to Hadoop et al we can search data at will - though not like with the performance that we would like, but that is getting better every few months.
    So let's be aggressive and to use the famous Gretzky's quote - skate where the puck will be.

    Taken from Indicee Webinar announcement here.


    Ditch the data warehouse...

    ... and move all it's content into Hadoop clusters. For any reports built upon the data warehouse - find a solution on top of Hadoop. You may have to setup a report generation infrastructure - so canned reports are instantly available. You did or even do this for your existing reporting, too. But you will have the instant benefit of allowing skilled users to find new insights in the enterprise's data. 

    • Go back to the wish list for dimensions that there was never time and / or money to build them.
    • Go back to the reports that were not feasible or nice to have. 
    • Go back to insights the business was suspecting to have - but never go to because of... you know. 
    • Don't forget the requests made but postponed because that data mining software package was too expensive. 
    • Make your user community happy in regards of announcing that any query is now possible ... start with a hack a query workshop with your technical users and then an ask for any insight workshop with your business users and make sure there are no silly queries being excluded. Pretty sure you will run into some insights. 

    ... and add the enterprise OLTP data en route!

    So why stop with de-commissioning the data warehouse? Doesn't most of the data come from the transactional systems in your enterprise anyway? So while you do changes in your ETL software to feed your Hadoop clusters - why stop with the information that was foreseen for the data warehouse? You will end up with limited data and thus limited insights if you follow that approach... So get all the data from the origination in the transactional systems to the destinations in your analytical system - your Hadoop clusters. Something truly revolutionary - as traditionally the insight questions triggered the transfer of data into facts and dimensions. Now you just move data from the transactional system to the analytical system... and execute the analysis on that later.

    Wanted: Identifiers

    But how would Hadoop do it's magic and combine the data. After all you can't relate something that is not related. So it's time to enrich your transactional data. Some examples:
    • Your customer master should include the website address of that business. In a batch job you can add the IP address (no need to confuse a business user displaying it). And web traffic starts making sense.
    • Your contacts should have email addresses and more social identifiers - like twitter and Facebook IDs. And your social data can get tied into your transactional contents.
    • Your employee records should have links to all user IDs you have in house - as well as all their social identifier you can get the employees to disclose. And your system usage gets meaningful.
    • ...

      Crazy - could you do it? LinkedIn and Facebook will help...

      The good news is, that the large internet properties are working hard on this, have larger problems to solve than the average enterprise and are ... opensourcing their tools. Just this week LinkedIn announced to opensource its DataBus code-that will help you to keep all the different operational stores in synch. A very good tool to run your Hadoop clusters in experimentation mode. 
      And as I mentioned above - performance is still a concern right now - but if it really matters to you - have a look at memcached (to which Facebook contributed), equally being open source. If it can serve 150 GB per second from a cluster of flash memory servers at Facebook - it should give you some confidence, that the Hadoop performance problem is addressable today and will be put to bed soon for good.

      MyPOV:

      The purpose of this post was to push the needle from what is possible today, imposed by conventional wisdom - to what will be possible soon - and could be done by an agressive - type A company (as Gartner calls them) today. Well ok, I would experiment on it first, too. 

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    • 03/13/13--17:30: Why Oracle bought Nimbula
    • Oracle always seems to be able to pull off a surprise and today announced the acquisition of privately held Nimbula. Nimbula has $20M of investment from Sequoia Capital and Accel Partners and was an interesting SA/SV (South Africa / Silicon Valley) based start up  More interestingly it was founded by two former Amazon EC2 development honchos, Chris Pinkham and Willem van Biljon. Oracle did not even dedicate a press release to the topic - just a short statement.




      Nimbula's meets ... Oracle

      Nimbula was founded in the hey day of private cloud euphoria that prevailed 2-3 years ago. Pretty much all private cloud vendors stumbled over the reaction of the entrenched enterprise players - who curtailed the success of the smaller startups with all actions at their disposal. And then enterprises remained conservative - and kept asking - can we just keep buying VMWare.

      Nimbula had a great founding team with Pinkham and Biljon, who applied some of their lessons from building the Amazon's EC2 cloud into their private cloud offering called Nimbula Director. With a great focus on the power of self service, the product offers one of the fastest and easiest ways to get a private cloud going on x86 raw iron. Kudos to the Nimbula development (and marketing teams to expose this) to adopt a persona based development of the product, catering to the roles of cloud administrators, tenant administrators and end users. 

      After a short attempt to liase with Hadoop and a partnership with MapR - Nimbula went to support Openstack, opening their Director product to Openstack APIs. 

      Oracle in comparison had no similar offering, anything for orchestration across the private and public cloud. The work ahead will be to let Nimbula Director work and support Oracle's virtualization products. Moreover, once the ACME Packets  acquisition will have happened  - the IP will improve firewall throughput siginifcantly, which is critical for the performance of private / public cloud offerings. 


      Complimentary and / or Competitive Acquisition?

      As we have seen Oracle may really need some cloud functionality from Nimbula. At this point in the speed of the cloud market, it's probably cheaper for Oracle to buy then to build that functionality. And the statement stresses the complimentary nature of the acquisition and indeed Oracle does not offer anything in the area of private cloud orchestration like the Nimbula Director product does. 
      On the other side it does not hurt that Nimbula was a key RedHat partner (though RedHat put their chips down already, with the acquisition of ManageIQ, which left Nimbula in a somewhat weaker position. Likewise VMware was supported by nimbula - and VMware is closer as a competitor to Oracle given the focus of Oracle in the virtualization area.



      OpenStack implications

      Oracle was the last to join - via proxy of acquisition - the OpenStack party. Just two weeks ago IBM announced the support of OpenStack. Personally I don't think Oracle could stand out and wait longer. Nimbula now gives Oracle a board seat (with IBM, HP, Dell and VMWare - that will be a lot of fun meetings). This could be a bright future -- or the end of OpenStack. Remember UNIX - similar setup.

      Strategic value for Oracle

      Oracle gets a very good private cloud product, with good orchestration capability across the public cloud. Through the OpenStack cloak, Oracle can even get visibility into machines and private clouds managed and run by their competitors. I am sure someone in the towers around Oracle Parkway is already building the Oracle Enterprise Manager extension to calculate the benefits of moving off other vendors hardware and one of Oracle's Exaxxx products. The low setup cost of Nimbula Director makes even a trial installation realistic.

      Advice for Buyers

      This is good news for Oracle shops. Wait though till Oracle has a date for support of Oracle virtualization products by Nimbula Director. For non Oracle shops it comes back to trusting, that Oracle will keep the product open and running on OpenStack. Oracle would be foolish to say anything else at this point. But watch this area.


      MyPOV

      A very strategic acquisition of Oracle, possibly at very low cost, given the challenges private cloud startups are facing. Oracle gains some key cloud talent, we will see if it will stay on board. And it's clear that Oracle really means to be in the cloud game and Oracle is in it to win it. 

      I expect also less hyperbole around Oracle's False Cloud - as you would have to argue that an OpenStack compliant product isn't a cloud product. And that would make all OpenStack vendors False Cloud vendors. Ironically that's something that could happen, if the elephants at the table at the OpenStack board meetings play it out as it once happened to ... UNIX.  





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      Late in the week we learnt that Google has acquired privately held Talaria, based in Palo Alto, a company with less than 20 employees. [Talaria, is Greek for sandal, a symbol for the Greek god Hermes - and with some fantasy you can see a sandal in the logo below].



      Talaria meets... Google

      Not much was known about Talaria before this acquisition, the company had a one page only website - which even disappeared after the news of the acquisition was out on Friday. Thanks to Google's Internet caching though - it was easy to see what Talaria claimed to be up to: 


      The product idea is to improve website performance, and the trick is to move code from more popular, high level programming language via a JIT compiler into machine code. Talaria claims to have done this successfully for PHP code being generated by Wordpress, as well as  for the content management engine Drupal.

      Talaria was in private beta and soliciting sign ups from their (now defunct) website. They built a web server that seamlessly integrates into an existing web architecture by replacing the scripting engine. With support of FastCGI, there is standards based support to speak to a variety of web servers. 

      Talaria has also been smart about productizing intermediary products: Naturally, when compiling code to byte language, you need to analyse and parse the higher level code. That allows you to profile code and pin point to non working (it simply won't compile) or badly performing code (that's the one you may want to move first to byte code). So Talaria productized this functionality into a Profiler. Smart. 

      The Talaria business case

      If you are able to replace slower, often only interpreted code from popular programming languages such as Phyton and Ruby - you gain dramatic efficiencies, often even better than the 10x Talaria claims. That allows you to either push your functionality further on existing hardware - or reduce the hardware needed to run the same functionality. Pick your business case - it works. 

      Talaria will become part of the Google Cloud platform, where it will create the same benefit - with the nice differentiation for the Google Cloud sales team, that they will be able to tell customers and prospects that they can keep coding in e.g. Ruby, but on Google Cloud platform they will be able to run them faster than anywhere else. This creates much desired stickiness and value for Google Cloud platform - both for their customers and Google themselves. 

      And with Google running more than a million severs [side note - that's approx 20 per employee (!)] - makes a pretty good business case on the side. 

      That there is a business case transforming slow running e.g. PHP code to a closer to machine language, has been proving by Facebook's (now open sourced) HipHop PHP to C++ converter)  - a little more than three years ago. It may have inspired the Talaria founders, even to the point that they built on HipHop. Only speculation.  

      Why does Google buy a company in private beta

      Talaria must have been up to something very good... And its founders, Austin Robison and Solomon Boulos (now LinkedIn job title- person who builds things at Google) must be two pretty smart engineers, which works always well with the Google culture (see Boulos impressive publication list at Stanford here). 

      For Talaria the road to success was pretty steep - in order to embed another web server, you need to trust that it generates pretty good code - and that takes some time and hand holding before anyone makes the switch. And then there are a lot of languages to parse, many web servers to embed etc. Not sure Talaria had the funding for that. The support for NGINX also points to some potential russian adventures in funding [Speculation]. Now things get easier - as the Talaria web server only needs to work for the Google Cloud platform - and creates instant value, starting with PHP.

      MyPOV:

      When Google acquires a small and unproven company, they must be acqhiring smart people. There are significant benefits for Google both internally and externally, by building out the Talaria web server for Google Cloud. Look at Amazon's AWS to either finish internal work or acquire another JIT vendor soon. 
      And lastly: Hopefully a nice exit for two smart University of Utah alums, may they and their product idea thrive well inside the Googleplex. If they succeed the cloud will be the winner

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    • 03/25/13--10:34: Why Oracle is buying Tekelec
    • This morning Oracleannounced, that it has entered into an agreement to acquireTekelec, a leading provider of network signaling, policy control, and subscriber data management solutions to communications companies. Terms where not disclosed, but Tekelec was taken private last year by a number of equity investors, under the lead of Siris Capital Group, then valued at 780M US$. 


      Who is Tekelec?

      Tekelec has been around since a long time, originally started in Europe, incorporated in the USA in 1971 and since then going from test equipment and hardware to software. Most recently the company has been losing money at the rate of 30M US$ in the last 15 months. It is lead by telco veterans who looks like have turned around the company by focusing on diameter signalling. That's the signalling growth you are aiding with when using a smartphone over an LTE / 4G network. 

      Tekelec has also been smart to build more value added services on top of the diameter signalling, with subscriber managment, policy management and the not-to-be missed intelligence solution on top of the data packets. 

      Oracle isn't wasting time

      It's less than 7 weeks ago that Oracle acquired ACME Packets and with that got involved in the whole signalling market. ACME packets provided session border protocol tools - and Tekelec provides the same - only for diameter signalling. 

      In modern IMS networks the SIP protocol is used for VoIP and video-conferencing, the diameter protocol is powering the triple A of Authentication, Authorization and Accounting, for mobile networks. Both protocols meet in modern mobile networks: When a smartphone is used for a Skype video call - while the load of that video is going over SIP, the administration of all the data is going through the diameter protocol. 

      Due to the chattiness of mobile devices, the expectation is that diameter protocol traffic will be 2-3 times higher than mobile data growth, which by itself is of course growing dramatically.

      The engineered system is getting  more powerful

      In my post about Oracle's ACME Packets acquisition I dared to predict that Oracle will bring to market an engineered system dedicated for Telcos, naming if ExaNetNet (in allusion to the ACME products). That option gets even more likely, though the naming will now be something like ExaProtocol or similar. Remember that at some point in the not to distant past, Sun owned a large chunk of telecom protocol equipment.

      MyPOV

      Oracle is shrewdly expanding their value proposition to the Communications Industry by leveraging the mobile (Tekelec) and overall data (ACME Packets) explosion. And while these acquisitions run all under the banner of Bhaskar Gorti's Telco Unit, they will equally benefit Oracle's cloud offerings. At the end of the day - if the packets get routed faster and  more efficiently on a telco server - or an Oracle cloud server - they don't really care. Oracle will be in a good position to make money from either of them. 

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      The headline of this post may sound surprising at first, given the history of neither SAP nor Oracle really appreciating publicly, what the 3rd party maintenance providers are doing. But keep in mind, the only big tuzzle in the history of  third party maintenance, has been between Oracle and SAP - and not so much for the service itself, but for the intellectual property violations committed by the SAP subsidiary TomorrowNow.


      SaaS vendors get paid maintenance, too!

      The often forgotten fact in the discussion around support and maintenance rates is, that SaaS vendors do charge for support and maintenance, too. It's part of the monthly subscription fee, which funds the error corrections, compliance work etc. And pays for the support desk, hotline etc on the support side. SaaS vendors have not been scrutinized much in this regards (yet). Mostly they have been able to keep the value side of the equation up for their subscribers with the regular release of highly functional updates. But as less functional white space will be available to be covered, the functional richness of these releases will get reduced (compare Workday releases over time, for instance) and with that the question of the return of value for the monthly subscription will creep up, sooner than later in my view.

      When it comes to maintenance, the only true difference between a SaaS vendor and a traditional enterprise vendor is, that they usually do not support back releases. And that is a sizable reduction in maintenance labor, as any defect detected needs to corrected and tested and released only in the production and latest code line. No need to do that for any of the older, but still supported releases, as Oracle and SAP obliged themselves to do in their maintenance contracts. This is a very size able chunk of workload. 

      Egalitarian Simplicity

      Oracle and SAP want to keep the rates identical, for simplicity reasons. In reality, what they spend on support and maintenance for each of their products, varies significantly. But think what complexity would come up of maintenance and support rates would become variable, depending on functional footprint and age of release. Very difficult to explain and even more difficult to budget for. So it's better to keep the maintenance and support rate at their respective steady percentages of 17% etc vs 22% for all customers.

      When on premise meets a SaaS value proposition

      There is one more factor, that is often forgotten in the discussion around maintenance rates. And that is, that an active subscriber to maintenance, is always eligible to the latest release of the licensed software. This used to be a significant value proposition, until the enterprise vendors carved it out with more creative license changes, think of the SAP engine model for instance. 
      But in itself there is a contractually identical value proposition between the SaaS vendors and the traditional on premise vendors. If you keep paying your subscription / maintenance fee - you have access to the latest release of the software you have licensed, free of charge. Personally I would not be surprised of the SaaS vendors getting creative in this respect at some point of maturation of the SaaS model, too. It's just too tempting to go back and charge customers again.

      The Arbitrage Model 

      For the traditional enterprise vendors it comes back to a simple arbitrage: Keep the model simple (one rate) and as high as possible, to get the most revenue from their install base. A few defections do not matter, as they make the rest of the customer group more coherent, less noisy, less unhappy. I am sure, that some customer have not been wept after too much when they moved to the 3rd party maintenance vendors. Of course that would never be admitted publicly of course, but everybody knows a difficult customer. 

      Success of 3rd party maintenance?

      While the number of customers serviced by 3rd party maintenance vendors is certainly up, the business model is not a screaming success. How can you tell? Well, if customers were leaving the enterprise vendors in buses - then they would react. They would either increase the value of their services or lower the price for support and maintenance. 
      But the prices have not been reduced, au contraire SAP is ramping up prices year over year. To be fair, SAP has also unofficially increased services, e.g. with the announcement of lifetime support for the HCM functionality till 2020 at their recent HR2013 conference. But that was a proactive move by SAP - not a reaction to the 3rd party maintenance vendors carving out a significant chunk of their customer base. 

      MyPOV

      So the Rimini Streets and companions do not seem to trouble SAP and Oracle too much. They extract the most vociferous and unhappy customers, making the remaining ones easier to deal with. It's a good option to have for the customers of the enterprise vendors, and agree with a colleague that it should be re-visited regularly. But more importantly they keep Oracle and SAP honest to provide good enough value for their service, and this is a key success factor for these vendors. 

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      Last week saw the clarification of all the myths, hype and speculation of the Facebook phone... which turned out to be a software offering.. and a phone. The software offering is a application that can be installed on selected Android powered phones, the phone (the HTC First) will be shipped in a few days starting with AT&T. 

      Facebook App Launcher from Facebook Home site

      A category crossover

      If you think of the high tech landscape as different categories of products, cross overs between categories are notoriously seldom happening... because they are very, very hard to achieve. 

      Think of Oracle getting a leg in the application business. Think of they many failed attempts by Cisco. Or HP buying Palm WebOS. And so on. 

      Facebook's move from the social software category to the mobile phone category is such a move. It certainly helps to be the social software market leader, nonetheless it's not an easy step. Remember how Mark Zuckerberg even admitted less than 12 months ago, that Facebook got mobile wrong. Or remember the ill fated cross application effort Facebook tried with a pure HTML5 application, that faltered and turned out to be a move back to native apps? 
      And while Facebook stopped short of building their own mobile phone OS - a move which makes a lot of sense - if Home succeeds, it will become what really  matters in regards of monetization on the smartphone - the application that gets the most eyeballs. 

      Why not stop at the app level?

      As mentioned, Facebook had a rough start into the smartphone apps business with their ill fated gamble on HTML5. Facebook even missed the influence of mobile in regards of their business model - selling advertisement. And while the monetization is still not yet fully fleshed out, it is clear that a normal smartphone app only gives limited control of a user's eyeballs. A user may see notifications posted from a social network, but still needs to go through a OS dependent lock screen, often an app launcher - so plenty of chances to get 'distracted' with other advertisement options. 

      I also think it must irk to some point all the social vendors, that they basically need to reveal the content of the social interaction to the smartphone OS vendor, when latching into their proprietary notification system. It really comes back to the smartphone OS vendor to become more clever at exploiting the content of these messages for more directed, targeted marketing.

      Moreover Facebook has been dabbling beyond the pure social feed model with the Instagram acquisition, with offering a messaging platform and even free phone calls for a number of countries. These additional apps - all driven by getting more information on the user's interaction and thus being able to pin point marketing messages better, require to tie in different applications and with that outgrow the capability and functionality of the typical app. 
      So Facebook creating an individual app launcher with Home and exposing the native Facebook communication services through Home, is the next logical step. 

      At the core... openness

      Facebook Home was only possible due to the open standard nature of Google's Android smartphone OS. If Google would not expose lock screen, app launcher, dialer and message APIs, Facebook could not have pulled Home together. As Facebook managers and industry observers quickly noticed, good luck trying to do this on Apple's iOS. You can't as they all agree, as iOS is too closed, locked down. 

      But Facebook also deserves kudos for keeping Home open to a certain point - as you can put 3rd party apps in the launch center. This of course is not only a noble pledge to openness, but another mechanism to track more about the user's behavior and usage for the purpose of more marketing data.

      It will be interesting to see what Google's reaction to Home will be - as Facebook is basically taking advantage of the openness of the Android OS. But so have HTC and Samsung with their value add apps - but that was how the ecosystem was supposed to work... 

      The trend - UES - User Experience Softare

      A few weeks ago I blogged about the rise of a new software category, user experience software. The example was the small Swedish startup Dexplora creating getsalesdone a more usable front end to salesforce's backend. Granted - Dexplora did not provide underlying applications as Facebook does - but at the end of the day for Facebook it's all about putting a better user experience for all of their services in the hand of the users. So the motivation is the same, the benefit for the user similar, only that the Facebook offering is vertically deeper

      But at the core - let's not forget that Facebook needed to do a very good job from a UIX perspective to make Home a success. And the early reviews confirm that - in every review I have read - the usage of Facebook went up. 

      Simple UIX mechanisms like adopting the Instagram double tab for a like action are very powerful. Likewise the adoption of two dimensional swipes to navigate the Home app, a mechanism only promoted by Blackberry in their recent BB10 launch, gives credit to good UIX design as well the speed of adoption of working UIX features in the mobile apps market. 

      But Facebook was also innovative - with the chatheads mechanism, which give the user a representation of themselves across the applications as well as a application control metaphor.  Kudos for this powerful new UIX mechanism. 

      From Facebook Home website.


      On the flip-side - Home acknowledges that despite all the effort Facebook has put into getting much improved apps out in the last 12 months - the effort was still sub optimal in tying their offerings together before Home. 

      The enterprise impact

      I see a few trends that will come up for enterprise vendors:

      • If Facebook Home succeeds - it will change the mobile advertisement game... while in app advertising will work the same process wise, the smartphone OS provider will no longer know, which apps have been run on a device. Facebook will be able to prominently display featured apps and ads instead. The fact, that Facebook denies any intention to do so (for the time being) - implicitly confirms that they are well aware of this potential.
         
      • Despite all the BYOD frenzy, there is a market for closed down smartphones. Just look at your parcel service delivery rep, your limo driver, your flight attendant etc - they all carry smartphones (or tablets) that have been locked down to specific applications for their work related tasks... Facebook only phones may emerge and make it harder to find a presence on them going forward. Or to ease to BYOD pressure - the Facebook Home app may become the step to open the device a little bit - but not completely.
         
      • It's an opportunity for all the marketing automation vendors to provide Facebook Home style applets to allow their clients to create Home based apps to promote their business.
         
      • It's likely that Facebook may start an application market place on their own, to control the Facebook Home experience... that will create even more fragmentation to the smartphone app market place and make it harder for the contenders of the #3 stop (Nokia, Blackberry etc) to e compete for development budgets.
         
      • The biggest criticism of Android has been the cluttered, non cross platform consistent user experience.  So far Google has let this go - even played it to Android's advantage. Facebook Home may spur Google into a clean up mode and even offer a similar app like Home - maybe expand the Google Now offering.  Similarly I am sure Yahoo!'s Marissa Mayer maybe itching to provide a similar offering to Home - with Yahoo! services and products... maybe she is up to that with Apple already as you read this.
         
      • If Facebook can do it - why can't you do that... granted an enterprise vendor may not have the messaging and calling apps that Facebook has rolled out in the last 6  months - but with a bit of imagination I can well see salesforce doing a similar move with Chatter. Maybe even SAP gets carried away and dreams up a Sapphire announcement to propel their mobile business.
         

      MyPOV

      We are witnessing a very strategic category cross over move in the very dynamic smartphone marketplace. Monetization of smartphone apps has not been fully figured out - and Facebook's move with Home may have a long lasting ripple effect in how smartphone apps are built and monetized. Similarly it maybe a wake up call for Google et al and ambitious social enterprise vendors - salesforce anyone?

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      When LinkedIn released their Q4 and 2012 results about 2 months ago, not too much was noted about the impressive increase of HCM related revenue. This marks the first full financial year in which LinkedIn's HCM solutions have brought in more than 50% of overall revenue.


      From LinkedIn's Earnings call (Slideshare)

      Who is LinkedIn?

      So what kind of company is LinkedIn? We all know (and use it) as a professional social network. If you work in the high tech industry, it's almost impossible not to be present on LinkedIn. The network passed the 200M member milestone late in 2012 and now claims that its adding a member every 2 seconds, almost two thirds of them coming from outside the US.

      LinkedIn makes money by selling advertisement (Marketing Solutions), Premium Subscriptions (which give a user more access to work the social network) and Talent Solutions (basically recruitment on the social network) . 

      So if you only take it narrowly with the Talent Solutions - LinkedIn is more a HCM company than anything else. If you take a more progressive view of HCM - where social is part of the fabric, then clearly the premium subscriber content should be part of a next generation HCM system, making LinkedIn a full and square HCM company - with 80% of revenue coming from HCM related data and processes. If you then think it through to the ultimate step - if a social network is part of the HCM fabric, then it needs to be externally available, making it a candidate for targeting, marketing, advertisement etc. So you could even argue the  marketing revenue is related to LinkedIn's HCM business, but for the sake of this post I won't go there.


      How big a HCM company is Linkedin?


      If you compare LinkedIn to recent HCM stock market rockstar Workday, the comparison was a big surprise to me: 


      Metric (all inMUS$)
      LinkedIn
      Workday
      Q4 2012 RevenueLinkedIn: Excl. Marketing
      Workday: Only Subscription
      243
      59
      Last FY Revenue
      LinkedIn: Excl. Marketing
      Workday: Only Subscription
      776
      190

      Effectively LinkedIn is running 1.5 years ahead of Workday in HCM revenue... and is profitable.


      So why a media company?


      The declared direction of LinkedIn has been over and over to become a media company. The recent acquisition of Pulse goes in that direction. But why try to be a media company, when you are effectively a HCM software company, potentially the market leader in next generation recruitment software?

      I see two options:

      (1) Media is the cheese in the social network mousetrap

      To attract professionals to keep their resumes up to date and to come back to LinkedIn, content is key. LinkedIn has paid for some content creation recently, but makes it also easier and easier for members to publish their content. This drives page views, which the company still sees as a key metric. 






      (2) The executive DNA is not enterprise software

      Check out the bios of the executive teams - they are all more media then software, not to mention even enterprise software. Especially where it matters - with the CEO, CTO and product heads. Not that they are not smart enough to figure enterprise software out - but it may not be the instinctive path they have travelled on before. 

      If you look for proof - checkout the reviews of the pretty much botched Skills & Expertise rollout. While a brilliant idea, have members attest capabilities of other members and build a skills profile - the implementation was a little bit to simplistic is the common verdict. LinkedIn may counter that with the crowd sourcing of the skills you still get a somewhat valid picture - but it remains questionable. Similar for the recommendation / endorsement functionality.Great idea, essential for a professional network - but a little bit too little to really work. Has anyone used the recommenders as references in a serious job interview?


      Maybe Weiner is just smarter...

      But then there is another option: Maybe Jeff Weiner is just too smart to enter the enterprise software fray and start battling around with the SAPs., Oracle and newer entrants like Workday and Ultimate. Right now I am sure the budget for the payments for talent solutions are flying under the IT radar screen and are paid because it's Linkedin. And with close to half a billion in yearly revenue, that's a lot of money spend on software subscriptions. Why compete with the enterprise vendors when you can get this revenue anyway, with no competition?


      But longer term...

      Longer term I see a challenge for LinkedIn, if they do not extend their HCM functionality. While their core - the professional social network, will remain intact, there will be simply no runway to sell more talent (aka recruitment) licenses. The audience will be saturated, too - you have your members, and your professional users - no growth for the marketing solutions, as no more eyeballs. 

      What would be low hanging fruits for LinkedIn? Performance Management, 360 degree reviews are a natural extension to what LinkedIn has already. eLearning would be an easy add on and plug in, too. Complement and upgrade your skills, get a LinkedIn accreditation, certification.

      More risky, but also more rewarding would be forays in Compensation. Why not have members confidentially share salaries and benefits and return them to them (and their employer) in a benchmark? My hope would be also that LinkedIn would make a stab at the portable Employee Profile. With that I mean the capability to maintain a web identity of a professional's skills and abilities, and be able to plug that back into the transactional systems for the information that matters. 


      MyPOV

      When looking at LinkedIn, we need to realize, that we are looking at probably the 2nd largest HCM software vendor (after ADP). Luckily for the enterprise vendors, LinkedIn does not really seem to be interested to give them a run for the money - for now. But when growth potential and growth get more limited - this will be an option. An option where LinkedIn, not having the enterprise software DNA (and baggage) has serious change game potential for the HCM market place. 


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      Last week was the time of the year again - the Workday spring Update was being made available on the companies servers. It's now the 19th time that Workday has made available an Update of their latest products - on a metronome like pace. That in itself is a fact worth congratulating the company for.


      [For the rest of this post I will only focus on the HCM side of the Update.]

      So what was in Workday Update 19?

      Update 19 Functionality

      Here is an overview of Update 19 features, as presented on Workday's website

      • Cross Application Enhancements
        With this Workday refers to platform enhancements, that benefit both Financial and HCM applications. The most critical, though the least promoted from what I see, are additional 6 connectors of Workday to the rest of the world, like e.g. T&A Data, Check printing etc.
        A lot of attention was spent by Workday on the capability to add custom fields and labels - see here. To my surprise this is not a system wide capability, but needs to be introduced object by object (e.g. cost center, supervisory org, region etc). I really would like to know why.
         
      • Mobile
        Like many other companies betting on HTML5 to work out for their mobile system needs, Workday has realized that the industry was too optimistic in the HTML5 capabilities (or too hopeful HTML5 would cut significant platform specific development investment). The most notable renegade to HTML5 is actually Facebook. So Workday introduced a native Android application for smartphones and extended functionality to the existing iOS platforms (enhancements to time entry, update contact information (surprised you weren't able to do this before) and job change management). Going forward customer will have to be aware of different levels of capability between the iOS, Android apps and the HTML5 support for other smartphone OS.
         
      • HCM, Payroll Enhancements
        This is a mixed bag of new reporting (Workday Trending is now GA), availability of time series data in modifiable reports, new headcount planning capability.
         

      The SaaS release conundrum

      One of they key benefits that SaaS provides, is a regular release cycle, usually multiple releases per year. Workday for instance releases every 4 months. There are a lot of benefits of the regular release cycles, as customers can adjust their implementation and go live plans, it gives a cadence to the sales, training and partner efforts and last but not least imposes discipline on the vendor's developers.

      When you compare it with the large internet properties though, it's significantly different, as e.g. Facebook releases Home when they are ready, it's basically release when ready vs. release on schedule.

      Release on schedule has the disadvantage, that the vendor needs to release something, even when there may not be so many value creation features in the release than you would usually see. That problem gets acerbated, when vendors need to split their development teams because of development projects, that need more time than the regular release cycle and with that reduce their capacity for building features for the immediate next release.

      The challenge for all SaaS vendors in a similar scenario is, that the regular releases create trust in their ability to release more functionality, and many - like Workday - have made this a key differentiator vs.  the dinosaurs of the industry. But that makes them also a slave to the cadence

      Workday release richness trending down

      So I did a small, quick and dirty assessment of how much Workday has packed into the last 5 updates  functionality wise, with the yellow highlight marking a heavy hitter that required significant development capacity, but also provided significant new feature benefits to customers:


      And - not surprisingly - the feature richness of Workday updates fizzles out a bit... as predicted in a recent post

      Financials, Recruitment and BigData weigh heavy

      As mentioned above in the conundrum - keeping up with the regular release schedule is a challenge, when you need to work on other development projects, that take more than one release cycle. Always a challenge for any development organization (fork code, double error correction etc) - but Workday is undergoing three significant major investments.

      Workday CTO Stan Sweete confirmed again, that development resources are split 50 / 50 between HCM and Financials. On the HCM side, the new recruitment module will keep large capacities of the HCM development team busy, and while the support for the Workday BigData offering will be most likely in the foundation / platform - it will need exposure and expertise from the applications, notably HCM. 

      It will be also key for Workday, to add all the custom fields they can now, so they will be part of the upcoming BigData update. Customer won't be too happy, if they realize that the just added capability of custom fields will not be part of the upcoming BigData update, so I am sure Workday will include these. 

      Does the headline make sense now?

      Very much hope so - if not, here is how it's meant: When you are bound to a regular release cycle as a SaaS vendor, you may have to endure some thinner than usual relases, as you developers are busy working on the other, longer running projects. The challenge for the vendor is to keep credibility and to have enough substance in the release to create value. 

      If Workday Update 19 passes that threshold - we will see from customer feedback in the next weeks and months. If Workday would be a traditional enterprise software vendor, I would expect most customers not taking this update and waiting out for Update 20 and 21 later this year.

      If you think it through - you can even discover one of the (few) downsides of being a SaaS customer, you may not want any of the Workday Update 19 features, but still will be upgraded and may have to work through some training, maintenance and documentation needs. 


      MyPOV

      Workday hat a thinner than usual release with Update 19 - but that was to be expected

      The real surprise to me was, that Workday has been able to hold off on standard enterprise software customization - or even personalization options for more than 6 years, and only now introduces these capabilities gradually. It speaks for the guts of the company to even herald this as a feature, and the weakness of the competition to not take advantage of this missing capability more successfully till now. 

      The losers on this situation have been Workday customers, who had to wait a long time to get some standard enterprise customization features for their Workday system, and even now only with a gradual, object by object introduction. Surprisingly this has not been discussed earlier and elsewhere. 

      On the flipside - congrats to Workday for keeping the trust in the 4 monthly update schedule and bundling up the most you can out of a release that was understandably and as expected thinner in functionality. And it looks like the big development projects around Recruitment and BigData are on track for the respective fall and winter releases, so the future Update functionality richness should increase again.

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      I have been looking forward to Infor's user conference, that has started today in Orlando, for a while. The company has been talking and hinting at their microvertical strategy a lot - but never in a public forum in combination with their new products. So today was going to be interesting, and it was:

      [If not familiar with Infor - read today's well timed USA Today piece about Charles Philips here.] 



      The Good

      If you follow enterprise software as a customer, vendor, partner, analyst or blogger - you have to pull for Infor. The SAP and Oracle duopoly really needs a run for the money - for the better of the  market and the industry. And Infor is doing a good job, labeling themselves as the greatest startup around, given the recent over 1 Billion investment, the impressive hiring of talent and the ambitious re-architecting of platform and applications. 


      Inforum 2013 Keynote - Day 1

      To differentiate themselves, Infor has chosen not just a vertical strategy - but a microvertical strategy. Go beyond the 20+ or so industries all the way to 200+ microverticals. That's a very clever differentiation, driving business automation further than SAP and Oracle have done. Infor CEO Charles Philips drove this argument home with a slide of labeling enterprise application eras:


      Inforum 2013 Keynote - Day 1
      And I very much like the slide, as it clearly outs the design  mantra of current enterprise applications: There is only one monolithic way to automate the business. To allow different functionality, the vendor may allow configuration of the monolithic application. If the scope of the configuration does not go far enough though, you need to customize (or with SAP modify) and then the ugly TCO monster rears it head.

      And Infor has done good work to understand the underpinning of such a strategy - with its Ion middleware. Not enough details on Ion were presented in the keynote to assess it [hope to be able to do that sometime soon] but it looks promising. 


      Inforum 2013 Keynote - Day 1
      I give Infor high marks for sticking with standards based on OAGIS / XML, which should make it easier to operate with other applications from 3rd party vendors. And its good for the #3 and beyond vendors to be able to hide behind standards. 

      But not only do you need to make data flow and make APIs available (still a lot of questions how that works) - users need to be able to co-operate across their current application boundaries, which requires a interaction / social / collaboration platform, which Infor has unveiled earlier already with ming.le. 



      Inforum 2013 Keynote - Day 1


      ming.le serves practically as an interactive communication tool, as the presenters made very clear, that key identifiers such as the customer ID, product ID etc are passed along with the ming.le interaction. 

      But then users may find themselves in enterprise applications, that they are not familiar with, so it's key to unify the user interaction across the many Infor products, and that job falls to project Soho, an HTML5 based set of UI tools, forms and standards, that achieves - at least at screenshot and demo level - a very high conformity of usability across the products. 


      Order Screen after applying Soho - Inforum 2013 Keynote - Day 1
      Last but not least - and that was brand new news today - Infor needed to address the reporting / BI challenge. With separate silos of information that are glued together with XML messages, and despite a social collaboration platform and harmonized UI across them, enterprises still want to report on cross silo data. As none of the silos (or products) have all the data, Infor had to come up with a solution and did so with a very elegant approach: 


      SkyVault - Inforum 2013 Keynote - Day 1
      The design is for Ion to puts copies of all relevant data - probably not only what it carries through for transactions across the different products, but also beyond that - into one large storage in the cloud. Interestingly Infor choose Amazon's Redshift (former ParAccel) as the technology to power the new SkyVault solution. A smart move as it gives Infor flexibility and avoids significant investment in capital for their own cloud - given the uptake of SkyVault with customers is at least a bit uncertain in the next quarters. Needless to say the low cost of Amazon's Redshift offer is of appeal to Infor, as Infor does not want to loose too much share of wallet with their customers with this architectural decisions. $s for Infor, cents for Amazon you may think.  

      So amidst all this enabling technlogy, Infor also upgraded and revamped the underlying applications from Infor 10 to Infor 10x. To make it into the 10x club, applications had to fulfill a number of conditions, namely to leverage the above investments, as the below slide sums up well: 


      SkyVault - Inforum 2013 Keynote - Day 1

      Moreover Infor announced that a number of their applications will be available through IBM's Smartcloud services. A good move by Infor, as it again alleviates heavy capex investment (that should go to product development in this phase) and offers a large brand name to create trust into the cloud offering, that some of the 70000 Infor customers may not yet have. The other compelling feature of choosing IBM's cloud products is, that they fully support private, public and hybrid cloud as there is no way for Infor to foresee how their customers will migrate their applications to the cloud.

      And finally Infor had an interesting investment around a (fittingly) (micro)vertical cloud for equipment vendors. Taking the M3 product, leveraging an investment that NTT Data has done together with Velocity Technology Solutions on IBM cloud services, there is a compelling cloud offering for companies that rely heavily on equipment. Fittingly the offer has been endorses by Caterpillar dealers around the world. 

      Unrelated to the architecture announcements, it was good to see the strong commitment to design thinking, with creating an in house design team with Hook&Loop. The impact is already seen in the new product releases and is encouraging. I was impressed by the example of the re-designed hotel check-in application. We will see over time how more continuous improvement can be instilled in the Infor applications. But it's a very promising start.


      The Bad

      Even if you invest around 1B in your enterprise company, and can show a significant shift forward, with the over-quoted massive investment in products (over 850 new developers) - you are still tying together old products - with modern tools. 

      Pretty much all the Infor products have their inception as a product, their basic design, data structure and capability to automate industry best practices from over 10+ years ago. That by itself doesn't have to be bad - but creates significant technical debt on Infor and Infor customers. The good news is, that some of them, like the customer reference proudly talking about their AS/400 solution - don't even mind. The bad news is, that you cannot build a next generation, best practices enterprise system.

      Infor - unwillingly of course - even documented that in the two key note demos. Of course ming.le was used to tie different Infor acquired apps together- but what was missed, was that a business automation system in the 21st century, should have automated flows a little differently and better:

      • The 1st example was the classic front office to back office demo: Sales rep realizes that product will be late for a key customer, he contacts the back office (granted, nicely done 21st century style a ming.le @production message), production manager finds out why, it's a planned maintenance, moves the planned maintenance and all users are heroes, the customer wins.
        But: The plant maintenance should not have been scheduled in the 1st place - as it disrupts the ETA of a key customer's products. All what we have seen was a lot of messages and rescheduling (I may say dust) about something a 21st century business app should not have let happen in the 1st place).
        [Ironically this will be a sales argument of Oracle and SAP against Infor, given they operate one one information set / schema - and Infor does not. Why show this demo at Inforum? No idea.]
         
      • The 2nd example was another classic I have seen in many incarnations: The urgent search for a spare part, again powered by ming.le, the obligatory internal check if other locations have the spare part inhouse and you could transfer them internally, and then the purchasing manager buys from the 2nd highest bidder, because they can deliver the critical spare part today - not later. Then we see how the VP of purchasing gets a message that the lowest bidder standard process was violated, but after back and forward with the purchasing manager, approves the purchase. Heroes all over again.
        But: A 21st century application should have allowed the purchasing manager to notify the VP why the lowest bid was not selected. Ironically it looks like the products could have done that, but the demo didn't. But even better the procurement rules should have allowed for exceptions to the lowers bidder rules, based on delivery speed, criticality, business impact etc .
      Don't want to be too picky, but demos matter, as they show the capability of products, vision, direction etc. But it's intuitively clear that tying together past business practices with modern tools, does not allow for tomorrow's business processes.

      My second concern is, that Infor needs to pick where to invest - and where not. I picked up a tweet, that ming.le runs on top of Microsoft Sharepoint. I have no further details and confirmation, but if that is the case, licensing may be so prohibitively costly, that it may never take off. Similarly using Amazon redshift is a smart move to save infrastructure capex, but longer term no enterprise software vendor can afford not to have significant IP in their BI offerings. You do not need to build something like Hana, but you need to have enough chops in the game to nail BI / Analytics vis a vis your transactional applications. 

      My last concern in the The Bad category is, that all the acquired Infor applications sit on very different, some on pretty old technology stacks. When the Infor executives transport their microvertical message through examples of deep vertical automation, so deep that it makes a monolithic vendor developer cringe, we cannot oversee that all that deep automation is being built on old platforms. And though Infor has done a very good job to access that functionality with their modern Ion platform - it's still an older technology platform with lots of old code.

      The Ugly

      Infor touted many very impressive numbers about the ongoing transformation: 

      Order Screen - Inforum 2013 Keynote - Day 1

      But the scope is simply huge, I'd say breathtaking: 

      Order Screen - Inforum 2013 Keynote - Day 1
      In the past history of enterprise automation many well starting verticalization efforts have fizzled, due to architecture issues and lack of development capacity. Remember the Oracle CPG offering? It was a lack of architecture and the move to thin clients on the underlying horizontal applications that required a reset of that effort. Or all the SAP verticals announced in the 2nd half of the 90ies that fizzled for lack of customer uptake to finance the sheer amount of manual work to keep them up to speed?

      And while I think Infor has a good strategy and approach on the architecture side with Ion, I am very worried about the development capacity. 

      Yes Infor has 3500 developers. Let's assume the two large blue boxes above came for free and all capacity would be available for building business functionality. That means still 21 horizontal apps flavored by 5 verticals. Making it 105. Let's discount some for reuse and make it 70 specific microvertical / horizontal flavors which require investment. That would make it 50 developers per offering. Sounds like a lot for the start, but take away 20 heads for product management, quality assurance and documentation. Now factor in that Infor is not a pure SaaS vendor, and allows on premise installs, which means customers will be on older releases. Which means different code lines for error correction. So the 30 boil down to 10-15 for new code. Still nice to have - but in my experience short of moving the needle permanently. Now don't forget that the two blue boxed above are not free and will take a chunk of development capacity out of the above numbers. 

      Infor may say, that they will grow themselves out of the problem, growing revenues and hiring  more developers, and I am pulling for them. But I think they will not be able to maintain this very wide scope. It will be a good sign in my view, when Infor will stop some less selling microverticals. That will be painful for the affected customers, but good news for the remaining customer base, as they should  see higher per microvertical investment.

      If you think this through, it means that a former Baan, Lawson, epiphany customer, who was worried about their vendor viability back then, is not in a significantly better position now. Granted the investment is impressive, the sharing of the technology across the products is more investment any of the vendors could have single handedly done before - but the problem - how many customers share this vision on how to run a business in a microvertical - remains the same.

      MyPOV

      Impressive work done by Charles Philips and team in about 18 months. Infor has done all the right things you can do in this short amount of time. If the underlying products are still in tune with 21st century business practices, if their technology allows still for productive coding of new business practices and if Infor will be able to grow the customer base to make investment challenges on a microvertical level disappear - remains to be seen. 

      A lot of Good, some Bad that can be corrected and some concerns in Ugly that need Infor needs to address. 

      In the meantime, I am pulling for Infor, as it will help the enterprise software market to give SAP and Oracle a run for the money. 

      And that really no one will show up with the a slide like below again:


      [Update April 23rd 23:58 PST:] Don't miss my takeaways of the Day 2 keynote here.
      [Update April 25th 8:03 PST] - You can watch the replay of the keynotes here.

      P.S. An interesting conversation between Dennis Howlett and Duncan Angove can be found here.



      P.S.S. And a good conversation of Dennis Howlett with Ray R Wang on today's takeaways:


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      When watching the Day 2 keynote of Inforum 2013 today, I could not help but thinking that it was somehow of a let down in comparison to yesterday's Day 1 keynote. That's often the case at user conferences, but I have not experienced such a contrast in a while.




      And I wonder why? The keynote started with LMS and then spend a lot of time on HCM, two topics I am quite passionate about. So hope it wasn't me... I am still a bit puzzled... let me know if you had the same impression and maybe can articulate it better.

      Let's look at the takeaways of the keynote.


      Hotel Demo revisited

      Duncan Angove and Stephan Scholl came back to the hotel check-in demo - which obviously a lot of people and not only yours truly, liked a lot. Unfortunately, it looked a little different than the rich process UI with the extensive use of the flipcard UI metaphor we saw as part of the Hook&Loop section of yesterday's keynote: 


      Screenshot form Inforum 2013 Day 2 Keynote

      And I will stick to my line from yesterday, that demos should be top notch and transport next generation capabilities... unfortunately this demo didn't (like yesterdays): A check-in agent has to ask for a maintenance fix in a suite, to give that suite to a late arriving loyal guest. Nice. Ming.le front and center, and if it was the purpose to demo Ming.le - it worked. 
      But: A 21st century enterprise application would have scheduled the fix to suite beforehand (make sure more valuable rooms are available) and alerted the check in agent to reserve the room for the tardy, but loyal guest.


      The need and pitch for LMS

      Pam Murphy did a good job explaining how Infor's large product set requires even more product training material and that Infor basically identified both a corporate and a product need for LMS. Certpoint (the former Vuepoint) seemed to be the best fit - and typical Infor style - was acquired on March 4th. A good review by Constellation's Yvette Cameron can be found here. The general education session by former Certpoint CEO Ara Ohanian (and only executive I know carrying the title of Chief Happiness Office before the CEO title) was informative, and I guess was to  lay the groundwork for significant sales campaigns into the Infor installed base. On way or the other Infor customers will use Certpoint. 

      With a recent acquisition I was not expecting a Soho style user interface on top of Certpoint, but it would have been good to see LMS in action. To my surprise the later HCM demo then had one, see below:


      Screenshot form Inforum 2013 Day 2 Keynote


      Off to HCM

      There was some disappointment yesterday, that HCM wasn't part of the Day 1 keynote, but today it got more clear why, Day 2 was about pitching the truly horizontal products. 

      Infor labels HCM modules a slightly different than other vendors, but the 5 main categories (Select, Develop, Deploy, Measure and Reward) make sense, though they take a moment to get used to:


      Screenshot form Inforum 2013 Day 2 Keynote


      The idea of the demo was that Dr. Soma would run through the requisition, hiring, onboarding of new nurses for a hospitals emergency room. Very good idea to give the horizontal HCM processes a vertical flavor, but I would have liked to see them go way deeper than the props with the ubiquitous stethoscopes. The ICU nurse identified the need for more nurses needed with the help of Labor analytics:


      Screenshot form Inforum 2013 Day 2 Keynote

      Again - I may annoy you here - but I would have expected the system to alert the chief nurse and  management that there is a shortage of up to 4 nurses. That doesn't also happen overnight, so there are some  other failures in the management of the hospital, that good enterprise software should uncover. It's important as one of the Ugly findings on Infor yesterday was, that the Infor enterprise applications already are a teenage age. Even more important for Infor to show in demos how 21st century ready they are.

      The HR Services user interface looked very clean and is one of the better efforts in the industry to provide the HCM start screen for an employee:


      Screenshot form Inforum 2013 Day 2 Keynote
      But the density and information richness of this 1st screen somehow got lost when navigating to the orgchart, which nicely displayed the already to be hired positions:

      Screenshot form Inforum 2013 Day 2 Keynote

      The twist that the user does not know how to hire in the system, something which is not a day to day activity, was a good idea and a good opportunity to show the Infor knowledgebase: 

      Screenshot form Inforum 2013 Day 2 Keynote

      And off we were to a nice recruitment screen, with some embedded analytics to score and suggest, who the best candidate to hire will be (at this point we forgot that we needed to hire four new nurses, which would been interesting to evaluate any bulk hire features):


      Screenshot form Inforum 2013 Day 2 Keynote
      And the offer letter get send out to the lucky candidate, temporary logins for background check etc information are available, and of course the letter gets shown on a tablet:


      Screenshot form Inforum 2013 Day 2 Keynote

      I was impressed by the clear desgin of the onboarding screen:


      Screenshot form Inforum 2013 Day 2 Keynote

      It was good to see that Infor HCM will take even care of more secondary HCM automation areas like Benefits:


      Screenshot form Inforum 2013 Day 2 Keynote

      And no HCM demo from a leading provider without mentioning and showing total compensation:


      Screenshot form Inforum 2013 Day 2 Keynote
      And finally - employee goals and how to achieve them:


      Screenshot form Inforum 2013 Day 2 Keynote

      Overall an impressive demo of the Infor HCM suite. It shows a consistent user interface and looks like covering all the bases of the HCM portfolio. 

      Thinking about this - it makes Infor HCM the most complete HCM suite out there. Oracle and SAP have to live with the respective Taleo and Successfactors dichotomy, Workday does not have recruitment (yet) and some other areas, same for Ultimate. This should be a window of opportunity for Infor to leverage, and with Stephan Scholl's Peoplesoft career roots, something I would expect Infor to make a run for.


      Configurator - another central component?

      Next was an surprise to me, Duncan Angove presented the intent to acquire configurator partner TDCI, who then presented with their president and SVP of strategy on stage for 10 or so minutes. Again it felt to a certain point like an education session for the general audience, similar to what we saw with LMS earlier. And in contrast to Certpoint, the acquisition of TDCI hasn't happened yet. So I understand the vagueness. 


      Screenshot form Inforum 2013 Day 2 Keynote

      The surprise was that Infor bought a configurator company, certainly a good one. But existing Infor customers using other Infor configurators maybe wondering about their investments. Obviously this could not be addressed pending the early stage of the acquisition. And there is certainly a competitive angle to this given TDCI's integration and partnerships with Oracle and Microsoft. 

      You can certainly make the point, that a configurator could be a similar central element to Infor's integration strategy like Ion and SkyVault (read more here). But it will require significantly more integration work. Could this be a hint that Infor will maybe sooner than later build a next generation enterprise application in the cloud as the go to future platform? The data is already there thanks to Ion.... we will see.


      Finally EAM

      Last but not least a fortissimo in the Infor portfolio EAM. Presented by Soma Somasundaram it was again a (lenghty) education what EAM is and how it matters to pretty much all customers in the audience. 


      Screenshot form Inforum 2013 Day 2 Keynote
      And Infor has an impressive collection of functionality to address the many EAM challenges. To tackle the wide diversity of the EAM world based on the asset nature with different editions is certainly wise, but poses similar resourcing and investment questions as the microvertical strategy does. But here is the impressive list of only some example EAM editions:


      Screenshot form Inforum 2013 Day 2 Keynote

      MyPOV

      A solid 2nd day at Inforum 2013 left me impressed with the breadth of the Infor HCM offering. More clarification around the pending TDCI acquisition is needed. It opens the speculation on the longer term Infor system landscape, with the company possibly reinventing itself on a modern cloud based platform beginning with the value creation chain for configurable products. On the long awaited EAM front, I have similar concerns as with the overall microvertical strategy: Infor may end up with not enough developers to create, maintain and support all that functionality. 

      Overall my view on The Good, the Bad, the Ugly from yesterday hasn't changed, don't miss reading the  post here.

      [Update April 25th 8:01 PST] - You can watch the replay of the keynotes here.






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      In a rapid quitter exchange with some esteemed influencers today, it struck me that agility was used as an argument for cloud applications in comparison to on premise enterprise applications. 



      And indeed - business agility is quite often used in conjunction, with cloud, indeed so often that a search on both terms leads to over 400000 results on Google:






      So what does agility really mean? A look at Merriam Webster: 


      Courtesy of Merriam Webster, from here

      Let's go for the above definition labelled as 1 - the ability to move with quick easy grace. 

      Obviously that depends on the perspective, so let's dissect this a little more below


      For the end user

      An end user does not really care how an enterprise application is delivered to him, on premise or via the cloud. What matters to the end user, is an intuitive user interface and that things can get done, meaning the system is available when needed, it's not too complex to use and leaves time for the real day job.
      So it's very clear the more modern system will usually win achieve this, and as cloud applications are  more recent and more modern, the end user will be more agile using a cloud application.


      For the business unit

      Business units are often frustrated with the support they get from central functions, in this case IT. The applications are too rigid, do not support the business unit well, are cumbersome to use, standards are restrictive, procurement is a pain etc. By selecting a cloud application and running it for the business unit, the business unit can become more agile, as it will be easier to get things done. And they can pay for it out of their opex budget. But  most enterprise applications aren't operating in information and process isolation, so usually the business unit will have to go back to the not so popular IT department for the plumbing work that is there in the aftermath of a business unit based decision to use a cloud application. 
      Short term the business unit will be more agile, the question is, how will that be after a few quarters, as the opex budget is more limited and the automated processes depend solely on the cloud vendors capabilities. 


      For the IT team

      When IT teams are surprised by their business units uptake of cloud applications, it's never a pleasant surprise. Suddenly interfaces, APIs, user information, credentials etc need to be shared that weren't required before. This goes along with a  loss in agility, the life of the IT team does not get easier.Unless there are applications that can be de-comissioned and turned off as part of the business unit's cloud decision. But I have seen that seldom be the case.
      The story is different, when the IT team is the instigator on moving applications to the cloud, as the expectation should be, that they have done their homework before. By moving applications to the cloud, the net effect on IT resources should be positive in a way, that less resources need to go to application maintenance and support. In that case the IT team increases agility by moving applications to the cloud.


      For the whole enterprise

      When applications are moved to the cloud, the effect on the enterprise's agility is not so easily determined.  Let's look at some scenario, when the enterprise will not benefit from moving to the cloud:

      • The cost of interfaces and security required by the cloud  move, is  not offset by the benefits.
      • Though the cloud applications does not require capex, the total opex payments over e.g. a 5 year time frame exceed the cost of an on premise application.
      • The enterprise cannot customize / modify the cloud application in a strategic aspect to make its enterprise run smoother.
      • The enterprise looses differentiation in the  market place, as many of its competitors use the same cloud vendor and have the same available functionality at their disposal. IT becomes a cost factor and is no longer an investment.
      • Regular updates by the cloud vendor do not create value for the enterprise, but prove to be a distraction to users and IT who need to be re-trained and the application needs to be re-configured and validated.
      If the above 5 scenarios - and I am sure there are  more - can be successfully avoided, then the enterprise will gain overall agility, by enabling its users to use a most likely more modern enterprise software, reducing capital spend in the long run and  benefiting from regular updates, that keep the enterprise system in tune with best practices.

      Taken from http://www.agilityrightfromthestart.com/


      MyPOV

      The move to the cloud is often portrayed as a no brainer for enterprises and improved agility is one of the  most used benefits associated with the move. But except for the end user - and also for them only under the parameters of still getting things done - the equation for enterprises is not so clean cut. The restrictions for business units, the IT team and the overall enterprise are more extensive and need to be managed well, to make the move to the cloud a gain in agility and a success for an enterprise. Which is the objective at hand. 

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      For two days this week Oracle gathered key industry analysts and bloggers for their yearly analyst relation summit. A good chance to checkout what has changed since the launch of the Cloudworld conference series, you find my takeaways from Cloudworld LA here:




      Larry on tap and nothing new from the top

      Similar as at Cloudworld events, Larry Ellison was there by video, which sparked some disappointment by the audience. But given the many faux cloud comments Oracle got from the analyst community in the last year - I think it may even have been a wise move by Oracle AR not to have Larry there in person, but on canned message. If it was a PR strategy it succeeded as there were no negative tweets on Oracle's strategy..

      But at the end nothing really new from Ellison, he re-itereated that with cloud computing we are entering a new age of computing, kept comparing it to water and electrical utilities and that the disruption of the cloud brings a new set of competitors to Oracle. The hope hat Oracle may reveal something (publicly) about the storage plans (see Kurian at LA here), beyond the January webcast - did not materialize.


      6 general themes 

      A lengthy presentation by Bob Evans, that didn't receive too much love from the audience in Twittersphere, at least made clear the 6 major themes that Oracle is working on (and are new vs Cloudworld):


      Slide from Twitter
      I wasn't really surprised by the engineered systems and cloud computing themes, but Oracle mentioning Big Data on a central slide is new. Already at Cloudworld CX was very prominent, so no surprise there - and social and mobile are table stakes these days ... though mobile has been more neglected by Oracle than by other players.

      It was good to see that Oracle offered clear differentiators to the competition with the below slide:


      Slide from Twitter
      And they are valid differentiators - nobody else is pursuing a similar ambitious and extensive engineered system strategy like Oracle. As a matter of fact, very few vendors can compete on engineered systems, as most likely competitors from the bottom up, IBM and HP, would have to partner extensively for higher level components, latest at the app level software. Consequently the same argument is valid for the software on Silicon argument. 

      And of course Oracle needs to offer all flavors of the cloud- public, private and hybrid - but so do Microsoft and IBM - equally including PaaS and IaaS. The end to end on the CX side is an ambition, I am sure a lot of vendors would argue Oracle is not yet end to end there. And Oracle would be fools if they didn't inject BI and Social everywhere they could. On the latter the absence of mobile is notable and remains an area where Oracle needs to improve and catch up.

      And Oracle remains committed to R&D, Bob Evans mentioned that over $15B being spent on R&D in the last three years - impressive, but it will more matter what Oracle can show for it. In the interesting statement section was also the labeling of the Sun acquisition as the  most strategic (ok) and most profitable (surprise) acquisition ever. Given the negative impact of the lower margin Sun sever business that Oracle needed to digest and dissolve, the additional R&D needed after Sun under-invested (see Oracle earnings call) - remains one I would like Oracle to back up. I am sure expectations go into that direction, when the whole engineered systems strategy and the software on silicon strategy will materialize successfully. But that's too early to call.


      Engineered Systems

      John Fowler's session was under NDA - so not  much to comment... but a few tidbits leaked out:
      • Oracle has turned the corner on the Sun investment (ok see Q3 earnings call, too)
      • There are only about 5000 engineered systems out worldwide, and over 800 sold in Q3 this FY.
      • Looks like no date has been given for when a Sparc based appliance will feature the Oracle flagship RDBMS. My guess is Oracle is waiting for 12c to be mature enough to be put onto silicon.
      • Not surprisingly the design team for the new engineered systems include DBMS, middleware and applications.  
      • It looks like Oracle was able to change the TCO of running Peoplesoft significantly, without changing a line of code, but only the underlying hardware. That sounds like a very cool proof point for the power of engineered systems and would give Oracle's Applicaton Unlimited customers a lot more runway. 
      • Softbank is the largest Exadata user in Japan, European Telcos have similar objective, but are more conservative and are lagging in adoption.
      • Fowler claimed, that Oracle's engineered systems will be available in a matter of days instead of the month long testing to put a custom made system together today. And Oracle will roll up thousands of patches into a single patch - across all the components:
      Slide from Twitter
      • While in the past Oracle created purpose built engineered systems (ExaData, ExaLogic etc), bringing the whole stack together in silicon will allow to build only one general purpose box. It would be very interesting to understand how elastic the different applications will be able to be run on that future general purpose system. So the appliances will stay around - but the generic loads will be shouldered by a general purpose appliance running on SPARC SuperClusters.
      • The next slide describes the ambitious saving engineered system can garner in a heterogeneous system landscape - including SAP. Which is an interesting aspect that Oracle would just see SAP on Oracle RDBMS as just another application, similarly what they have done with Peoplesoft. That could be a lot of very compelling revenue for Oracle and very bad news for IBM and HP, given the server hungry SAP landscapes:
      Slide from Twitter

      Now to the software

      Next up was Thomas Kurian, who repeated a well polished and smooth presentation, similar to Cloudworld. What was new is the staggering amount of products Oracle has released in the last 4 quarters... 270... that more than one system per workday, if you work Monday till Friday. Staggering. Begs a lot of questions how to handle, scale and digest this... not just for the analyst audience - for the whole ecosystem.
      Kurian also had a nice line with: Cloud today is not just infrastructure, but an organizing taxonomy to have a conversation today. Very true... and he offered a definition of cloud with: elastic pools of compute, storage and network resources. I couldn't agree more. Cloud is all about resource elasticity.
      Kurian also reconfirmed the social and CX software are the key areas of focus for business applications at this moment, my impressions at Cloudworld in LA were similar. The below slide frames nicely how the red stack translates into products on the right side:

      Slide from Twitter

      On the cloud computing side, Kurian already talked about the Nimbula acquisition (my take on it here), the Nimbula Cloud Director was already in the slides. which gives Oracle a lot of more credibility in the true cloud field. Notably - there was not a single false cloud mention in the twitter stream... something you can find abundantly around the last Oracle Open World.

      And Oracle's cloud strategy seems to now have settled, as a full range IaaS, PaaS and SaaS offerings, encompassing the Social Relationship Management platform and with the complete deployment flexibility - in the public, in the private and in the hybrid cloud. 



      Slide from Twitter

      Needless to say, Oracle did not address if there would be any interest to run the Oracle cloud on other hardware than the Oracle hardware.The public Cloud offering looks complete - with the additions of an Application Store  - since CloudWorld LA:


      Slide from Twitter

      And Oracle is serious in setting up data centers around the globe, with 7 already up and running and 4 more planned, with Singapore and Japan as mentioned specifically as future sites. 

      Up in the red stack and we get to the SaaS part, no changes here, the public cloud offering supports global HR, Talent Management, Enterprise Planning, Financial Planning, Enterprise Resource Planning, Marketing, Sales and Service. 


      Mobile finds love


      Even though one can validly argue that Oracle is so late to the mobile party that most food is gone already, Oracle seems to have decided to really show up now. And with the typical Oracle intensity...


      Slide from Twitter
      It's good to see Oracle getting serious about mobile, given the number of enterprise users getting to use their smartphones to get work done. Later on the applications side there was also the mobile first claim, but I haven't seen an enterprise application vendor really putting that into action. Mobile remains a key extension, but not the first design platform point for Oracle, SAP et al. 

      Oracle talks in memory now

      And finally - or not surprisingly anymore, Oracle addressed the in memory trend. Of course with exploiting processor, L1 & L2 cache, memory architectures, the engineered system mantra applied to in memory. The surprise to me was that 12c will ship with in memory capabilities in a month (or so) and a column store (no more details) will ship in 12 months. Interestingly Oracle has already been working on in memory apps and showed 3 customer examples under NDA. It's not clear how the Oracle in memory strategy will materialize in regards of its platform, as the option are the soon to be released 12c, Coherence and TimesTen. 



      Slide from Twitter

      Kurian also gave a preview of planned in memory applications, some of the them - like next best action, which may be the older Siebel / Six Sigma offerings revamped on the new in memory platform. Certainly Oracle discovers in memory late, later than SAP - but the announced applications hit the right tone in terms of scope and content.


      Big Data

      One of the first times we have seen Thomas Kurian / Oracle speaking about BigData and it would be interesting. Kurian offered (a good) definition of BigData being characterized by 4 Vs - with volume, velocity, variety and value. 

      Not surprisingly Oracle sees BigData as holistic offering that spans across engineered systems, technology and applications, that acquire, store, process and analyze data. I was wondering what Oracle's relationship to Hadoop would be - coexistence or uptake - but it looks that the RDBMS DNA was stronger and Kurian described scale out processing on Hadoop clusters. But the RDBMS SQL engine is supposed to work seamlessly across traditional RDBMS storage and Hadoop - which would be a big win for existing applications and query productivity. Kurian thinks, that over time the efficiency of the SQL processing across hybrid clusters will be a key success factor in the BigData market.

      Oracle's view on big data looks pretty complete, though I miss some business applications flavor on it - the BI applications are certainly there with Bi Foundation, Endeca, CEP - but no ETA mentioned:



      Slide from Twitter

      The Oracle BI application portfolio remains beyond comprehensive:


      Slide from Twitter


      Time for Applications

      And then Kurian was off to applications. CX featured prominently, which he claims is the single biggest investment in applications at Oracle. It wasn't clear if this was ongoing, currently happening investment or cumulative investment in form of purchase prices for RightNow and eloqua being added up. Kurian offered a neat little customer management fact, that back in 1996 a disgruntled customer would only reach 8-12 people on average, today with Facebook even a recluse user reaches about 1750.


      Slide from Twitter


      Fusion Apps Update

      When it came to Fusion Oracle revealed that over 400 customers are now on Fusion, about 150 were added later and the majority is on the SaaS price list. Steve Miranda then clarified further, that of the 150 new there were about 60-65 in CRM, same numbers for HCM and the rest in ERP. Almost all existing customers moving to Fusion, no new logos.

      Chris Leone presented the Fusion HCM apps, and I was impressive to see, that he demoed himsefl, a good sign of a hands-on executive. Of course he claimed that Oracle has the broadest suite of HR and Talent Management in the cloud. [I heard this before, ah,yes right at Inforum2013]. And not surprisingly, the claim of mobile first was the guideline to the new Oracle user interface. As Leone demoed from an iPad, that gave the whole claim significant substance. You can check the new UI out with TapMobile here. And of course, no HCM presentation post 2011 without mentioning flight risk - to be tamed with proper predictive analytics. 

      Also related to HCM - an interesting data point on Peoplesoft was, that has 15M users and pays 7.5M, more than I thought at this stage in the product life cycle. Paco Aubrejan even made the claim that Oracle's business with Peoplesoft is growing. The key investment areas for Peoplesoft HCM are mobile, in memory and lifecycle management.

      That concluded Day 1 - and we got some interesting Twitter visualization of Day 1 - looks like @mkrigsman and @alanlepo were the busiest tweeters:


      Courtesy of @satyakr - Satya Krishnawasamy


      Day 2

      The second day started with ... customer experience... Oracle gives the topic a lot of room, very good. The topic was kicked off telling a nice story on how customers journey across channels.


      Slide from Twitter

      In typical Oracle fashion customer experience needs to permeate across the whole applications portfolio, as the following slide portrays:



      Oracle garnered the CX pitch with the classic story of only 1% of customers being happy with servides, 89% would switch and walk if they had a option. Makes a very good ROI case for your CX investments. Reduce churn / likeliness to switch by x%, this is y$s - make it a no-brainer.

      It was also interesting to see the ACME Packets acquisition (my take here) being featured in a Telco example, where the telcos are trying to make sense of all the customer usage data. 

      MySQL thrives

      There were a lot of concerns around the fate of  mySQL as a result of Oracle's Sun acquisition. The fear was, that Oracle would squash the open source competition to protect the Oracle RDBMS offerings. But Oracle was smart to isolate the mySQL team from the RDBMS development teams, by having it effectively report to Ed Screven (who reports to Larry Ellison) and not to Andy Mendelsohn. A move that really safe guarded mySQL and Oracle now can prove by track record that the opposite is the case - mySQL is thriving - even though outside of all the redstack offerings and plans. According to Screven there are double the amount of developers and triple the amount of QA professionals working on mySQL than at the time of the acquisition. On the downside - throwing outside the redsack built by Kurian's team - also meets to wait for some goodies - so an mySQL appliance is on the list according to Screven, but no firm dates yet. 

      Close with Acquisitions


      Oracle keeps closing events like these with bringing Doug Kehring on stage, who runs the Oracle acquisition machine. His insights are always valuable, very few professionals have been involved in up to a 100 acquisitions in the last 10 years. Interesting was the insight, that employees of acquired companies, who stick around more than 12 months, are usually with Oracle for good. The great value of having Kehring present is, that the audience always leaves with the confidence that they speak to an executive running a very smooth, proven acquisition machine. Which results in practically none of the usual acquisition noise around retention, roadmaps, integration etc. that come up around acquisitions. Having a dedicated acquisition team has definitively paid off for Oracle.


      MyPOV


      This meeting hasn't changed my analysis from Cloudworld. We are witnessing the largest integrated engineering project across multiple product categories since a long time, maybe ever. Only IBM and Microsoft can attempt the same - but they - maybe wisely - aren't. The scope is tremendous, and with releasing a new product every workday for a year - a feat that Oracle has achieved - gives a sense of the complexity of the undertaking. 

      But Oracle has decided to shoulder this load and it will be very interesting to see the further progression of this mega project, that has the potential of transforming the enterprise IT industry on virtually every layer and every aspect. An update on the progress is always welcome, and the current status is promising. But Oracle still has a lot of road to cover - great high tech products just take... time.
      [Disclosure: I did not attend the AR conference - but only followed public available sources, mainly Twitter - you can find the Twitter Stream here.]

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      SAP's Sapphire conference is coming up next week and while I realize the presentations are already done, the banners printed, the give aways ordered and the marketing message fine tuned - it's still worth to think what SAP should and in my view could address next week. 



      With over 20000 attendees expected - this will be another massive conference for SAP. I very much look forward to the keynotes and here is what I would like to hear from the Tuesday McDermott / Calderoni, Wednesday Hagemann-Snabe / Dalgaard and Thursday Plattner / Sikka combo presentations.


      The Future

      SAP has been very clear on the ambition to have one billion users in the near future (is it 2016 now?) - but has been not so clear how to get there. Given the tricks the company pulled in the past (remember the 100000 company challenge that was achieved with the Business Objects acquisition, counting small Crystal Reports customers) to achieve similar goals - it would be good to understand what SAP is really up to here. The past investments in Business Objects, Sybase, SuccessFactoris and Ariba will not get SAP to that user count. Maybe it's the micro banking app on Sybase 365? It can't be the FanApps. So it would be good to learn  more - as it will direct significant development resources.


      The Integration Story

      In contrast to Oracle  (with now Fusion Middleware), SAP did not intend to do larger enterprise vendor acquisitions for a long time (till 2010?). So the focus of SAP's integration platform, NetWeaver was never really to integrate with heterogeneous products, that came in through acquisitions. Let's remember the focus was to integrate the internally created integration challenge of (my)SAPCRM, SCM, SRM, ERP etc. with MDM and XI. Unfortunately Netweaver failed pretty much at this, but that's a historic chapter for SAP. But now SAP has real integration problems at hand with SuccessFactors and Ariba. All of a sudden core automation pieces are no longer part of the monolithic suite, but running somewhere else. No easy integration, and the best practical answer has been file transfer. Let's hope that with NetWeaver PI et al we make a better story. If you look for a working integration story pitched recently, look no farer than Infor with Ion. 


      Cloud

      SAP's story at embracing the cloud has not been written so far. Surprisingly Oracle took much more criticism than SAP on the topic, so sometimes it's better to have nothing than something. It would be very good to understand, how the new NetWeaver (or is it Hana?) Cloud will work and pan out. I don't expect for SAP to physically host any cloud offering - but to work with its partners. An OpenStack support would not be too much of a surprise. I would also like to hear that the R/3 AMI support in AWS gets made available loudly and proudly. Here is a massive chance to reduce operating cost for their customers and SAP has been very slow at promoting this - I guess the business deflation for the hardware partners have been the deterrent.


      Hana

      My hope is, that Hana will pass the hype stage and we will see much more on real uptake, usage with customers and across the application portfolio. At this point I think everybody gives SAP credit, that Hana works, what you do with it is the key question. Unfortunately SAP has been applying Hana mostly to all the well known performance problems of the past, which is a fair usage of new technology, but implies a lack of vision how  a future in memory enterprise should operate. And this from the leader in business automation - quite an unfortunate pairing.

      SAP will also have to address the delays for getting the Business Suite to run on Hana and why SAP won't rely an SD benchmark on Hana. The ecosystem deserves to know why the performance gold standard of the past is no longer applicable now. SAP may have good reasons, so explain and replace it with a newer, better benchmark. Fair, but do it.


      Mobile

      Ever since SAP unleashed 100s of applications for mobile two year, it has gotten a little quiet. Quantity and quality are two different dimensions. Turns out the Sybase tools for mobile weren't as good as hoped at the time of acquisition. SAP has realized this and the new mobile capabilities of NetWeaver (or Hana?) cloud portal will be promising to address this. It will be good to see SAP go back to the traditional alleys of their famous product history - create the underling platform and then build great applications on top of it. 

      SAP will also need to address impedingly high list price of the mobile applications. And: Please don't say mobile first too often - best at all - as very few will buy that. 


      Social

      Though I applaud SAP to hire an outsider with Sameer Patel to run social - it's clear SAP is either not funding social (at this time) and / or doesn't understand it. There is very little to compete with Oracle on social, who is ruthlessly building social into current and future platforms and is actively investing into customer experience management. 


      [Inserted - thanks for pointing out, how could I forget!] Big Data

      SAP's relationship to Big Data has been neutral at the best. It took SAP a long time to add the external Hadoop support (Sapphire 2012), but more recently the stance has morphed at the one of a data warehouse vendor, coexistence and Hana will not go away. And that's correct, but enriching the SAP data with more social and other 3rd party system data in Hadoop is a business that SAP risks to loose if not addressed soon. The statement that Main Street will not adopt Hadoop is outright dangerous IMO. If SAP wants to remain the source for insight in enterprise data, it needs to re-work its strategy regarding Hadoop. The classic mySAP BW data warehouse business may run more on Hadoop clusters than Hana in a few years, more affordable and potentially better insights due to more available data. 

      Line of Business - No easy LOBs for Purchasing and HCM

      All is quiet on the CRM, Finance and Manufacturing front. No disrupting acqusitions that need to be explained, roadmaps replanned etc. 

      Different story for Purchasing and HCM. Let's tackle the Purchasing side first, here the story of buying the clear category leader with Ariba is a good news for SAP customers, many have been using Ariba already. There is no confusion and uncertainty where the future automation will reside - it's with Ariba and SAP only needs to address the integration road map and technology. 

      What a messy situation on the HCM side in contrast - Successfactors was a leader, but not the leader in HCM in the cloud (that prize would go to Workday). To be fair - even if SAP had acquired Workday, questions would have remained, simply because even Workday is not as complete and multinational as SAP's HCM produc. 

      In hinsight, Oracle's acquisition of Taleo (the clear leader in recruitment) looks so much easier, similar to an Ariba-size problem. So on the HCM side SAP will need to address where the future core HCM automation will be. If EmployeeCentral remains the answer, than SAP needs a very clear roadmap and a resolution on how the cloud technology from Successfactors will morph and work along with the new Netweaver (or Hana?) Cloud platform. And while addressing this - please show the roadmap how the heterogenuous cloud archtiectures of the legacy Successfactors products will be harmonized on the architecture side, too.


      The maintenance saga

      No user conference (remember - Sapphire and ASUG are taking place in parallel) without this sore subject. I would like SAP to address the value proposition of maintenance. At the HR2013 event earlier in the year SAP embarked into a very similar strategy like Oracle's Applications Unlimited. Don't worry too much customers, we will maintain what you have for a long, long, time, in the meantime stay with us as we figure out the future. Applications Unlimited has worked for Oracle customers and Oracle, so I see no reason why it should not work for SAP and SAP customers. With enough 3rd party support available for SAP, there is enough pressure to keep SAP honest on it's longer term roadmap and support commitments. 


      Vision & Thought Leadership

      In the 90ies SAP excelled at true thought leadership at Sapphire events. An integrated enterprise application as the platform to enable business re-engineering. SAP rode the wave of the management consultants to a modern client server system that encompasses all of the enterprise. 

      Much has changed now - and SAP needs to formulate its vision for the 21st century for business automation.  You do not re-invent business automaton by putting an in-memory database under it. SAP would have rightly criticized Oracle if  Larry Ellison would have claimed this. In an ironic twist of marketing positions, now SAP claims that new technology can upgrade old business application code. But technology is only half the equation, imagining and working with customers on how the 21st century enterprise will operate on that technology, is the other half, the key half, the half much closer to SAP's DNA than the technology half. I would love to see SAP making strides in this direction.


      MyPOV

      High expectations are in store for this year's Sapphire - SAP knows the challenges it needs to address. If they will bring them on stage to Orlando - we will know in a week from now.

      I would already praise SAP if they acknowledge the challenges and don't have a compelling solution yet - honesty can go a long, long way in the business of trust that enterprise applications ultimately are. SAP has not lost the trust of the ecosystem, but it's time to but  more trust coins in the bank. As I said - in a short and fast week, we will know more.


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      If you asked me a few quarters ago - I would not thought I may be writing a post on payroll soon... but the recent events of SAP acquiring SuccessFactors, Oracle buying Taleo, Workday and Ultimate both working hard on their payrolls - got some thought cycles started...



      Sample Paycheck -from themint.org

      Payroll - a negative business

      I remember a payroll industry veteran CEO saying once in a meeting, that payroll business is the most ungrateful business you can be in. You get a company's pay checks right for 20 years, screw up once for a handful of employees -- and they hate you. There seems to be little value of getting payroll right for many, many pay cycles, it only matters when you make a mistake. A very negative business. Or maybe the payroll providers do a too good of a job, so that they are being taken for granted - until something goes wrong.


      Market Shifts

      The interesting dynamic, that we can see in the overall HCM market is, that the old dichotomy of the old ERP vendors (some call them the dinosaurs) versus the new Talent Management vendor does not work anymore. For the simple reason that the ERP vendors have bulked up with the Talent Manager acquisitions and now have to figure out how to integrate them... with their HRMS and payroll products.
      So the new guys versus dinosaurs play does not work anymore and you can see how 'leftover' TalentManagement vendors of Workday and Ultimate are pushing payroll more. Workday has embraced payroll earlier than the Talent Management Vendors, but is now marketing their payroll offering more aggressively  And Ultimate just reflected the push for payroll with their recently announced payroll partnership with Celergo.
      As a sidenote - isn't it interesting that the acquired vendors (SuccessFactors, Taleo and Kenexa) did not have a payroll offering or any ambition in the area? Certainly they were more complimentary to their acquirers but it also shows the stickiness that results from payroll products.


      Payroll and Cloud

      Payroll is inherently a cloud application. In the (long distant) past you had to size your hardware to the size of your payroll run. Even today many payroll vendors make a very good living by running payroll for clients as an ASP, which shares hardware and runs the payrolls at slightly different times. These are not cloud solutions, but the conventional product with their conventional architectures, run in a shared, abstracted way to save hardware resources.
      On the general perspective ConstellationRG's Yvette Cameron postulates 6 very valid principles for a cloud payroll, so no need to go there again. But the inherent elastic nature is something future payroll offerings should exploit more and better. It will be interesting to see if the new payroll offerings - e.g. SAP's new Hana / Cloud payroll - will take advantage of the cloud.


      Payroll 2.0 - in the cloud

      As with all new technologies, the risk, that the same business functionality will be re-implemented on the new platform is significant. The pressure to have the same functionality on a new platform, with lower cost, faster response time and other benefits is huge. It's also risky to rethink the business functionality in a new way - as it may not become the new business best practice. 

      But lets try anyway:


      • A Payroll 2.0 product should put away with the traditional pay-run  While a sacrosanct ceremony for most payroll managers, there is no reason to keep this practice. Why not let business managers start, run and simulate a payroll? Or push it further and let the employee initiate it and see what his next paycheck will look like.
      • A next generation payroll system should also allow micro payments and payouts. Why not allow an employee to be paid weekly vs bi-weekly vs monthly - or even more employee oriented -on demand? It will certainly make the compliance side more complex - but the architecture of a next generation payroll system should not be the limitation.
      • And while there has been  made a lot of noise around Total Compensation Management, it has only happened on a very high level for employee benefits - both monetary and non monetary. We are far away for an employee to e.g. determine when his take home pay will achieve a certain amount. 
      • Equally next generation payroll systems should support managers in process of scheduling workers. It will certainly help a shift manager to call in employees for extra weekend work if he can tell them how that extra work will affect the take home pay at the end of the month. Likewise payroll data is seldom used in shift planning and workforce planning applications, it usually stops with basic pay and over time pay
      • And when moving payroll to the cloud, the whole electronic banking process should be enabled. The employees should be able to determine bank transfers, split paychecks if needed (think of legal reasons like alimony) and pool paychecks from multiple employers. Or just be able to send or produce the latest payslip for a credit event.
      • Finally we should see 21st century compliance integrations, why move data to paper if you can communicate with a government cloud, e-file returns etc. Features like this will reduce compliance costs and with that make the new products more attractive to enterprises.


      Architecture will matter - as always

      It will be key that the next generation payroll products will not only be able to take full advantage of the cloud but will also need a very granular, atomic design. And while this may sound like a general good design principle for any complex piece of software, from the current payroll engines out there, very few if not none have been designed that way.

      If you take the support of a global company in a single payroll engine as an example, then most enterprise software vendors have failed. As example, both Oracle and Peoplesoft started out with a US design and then tried to bolt on more country support - but their payroll engines became quickly unmanageable once you add more than 10 countries. SAP took a much better approach, if not for the luck that the grand daddy of SAP HCM, Klaus Tschira was a huge Smalltalk fan and insisted on a  more object oriented approach to design the SAP HCM system, resulting in the famous infotype. And it's the flexibility of the infotype concept that allows SAP to theretically build a payroll for any country of the world - and merely mundane business reasons (no enough customers) restrict SAP from doing so. But it's not the design and underlying architecture that limits the business - software how it should be.

      This is why I expect future, true cloud payrolls to be more like the design of the SAP payroll and beyond. They should not be embedded in the rigid understanding of an ERP style view of employee and employment - but a more LinkdedIn style model of professionals and a project based employment view.

      Deep vertical aspects

      But let's not forget that every company runs in an industry, with deep functional requirements and often legal compliance needs. When you consider this - it's not a surprise that the system of the US Veterans Administration is ... 50 years old. And you bet it started with a payroll / benefits payment solution. And got bolted on and added on for over 4 decades. To replace such a system, you need deep vertical capabilities and confidence you can run that payroll / payment process. So not surprisingly it's falling to a not so young system anymore, to Peoplesoft / Oracle trying to replace the legacy system on the system side (IBM provides the services).
      Along the same lines works the recent decision of the Washington State to use a Peoplesoft system to run all of its Higher Education system HR processes - should not surprise. The public sector in academia is riddled with rules and regulations which mostly find themselves in some way or shape affecting the payroll. 

      So a next generation, cloud based payroll system needs to be able to model vertical aspects very, very well. As well as the probably necessary customization needed to take any of the above mentioned, very large scale, very complex systems live. 

      Anyone building it?

      Ironically, I am not aware of anyone building the next generation payroll (yet). SAP seems to be content with taking the status quo - which isn't bad - to the cloud and will miss a re-design chance equally like Oracle did, that elected to make more or less the old Oracle e-Business Suite payroll as the future Fusion payroll. Only Workday built its own payroll processing recently, but limits it to North America (and UK?). My concern would be similar design errors have occurred like with the Peoplesoft payroll - hence Workday is partnering for outside North America for payroll. Smaller vendors like Ultimate can only partner with the payroll service bureaus, who do not have a common platform and are too thin pocketed to build a platform beyond manual labor, Microsoft Excel and existing local payroll platforms. 

      [Update May 8th:] A lot of readers point me to ZenPayroll as a new investment into a payroll systems - and indeed the company has impressive backing and seems to make payroll easy and fun (!). I don't know more about the architecture, but it looks like the self services aspect of a next generation system was very well achieved. Potential concerns are on US only focus (the future of payroll is global) and around using Ruby as programming language - but that's another full blog post. 


      MyPOV

      We are witnessing a renaissance of the importance of payroll. It creates a significant stickiness factor to stay with your vendor and employer. And with Oracle and SAP picking up talent management vendors, the combination of existing payroll and new talent management functionality forces the other market players to a payroll strategy, which ultimately will lead to payroll product creation. Do not entirely discard SAP building next generation payroll on top of Hana. Equally don't be surprised to see some well funded payroll professionals to build a next generation platform. 

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      In a world wide press conference - open to the public - the recording is here - SAP's Supervisory Board Chairman Hasso Plattner, it's CTO Vishal Sikka (blog here) and its CMO Jonathan Becher - unveiled the SAP Hana Enterprise Cloud.




      A Historic Event

      This is the first time I have seen senior SAP executives talk about key cloud benefits on a SAP homegrown product - albeit not mentioning the cloud.
      • Instant availability
        Multiple times the long procurement (8 weeks was mentioned) for Hana hardware came up. At one point Plattner said - that this delay disrupts the Hana projects. And with SAP making Hana available in the cloud - you can be using Hana much faster, you are now only constrained by data upload time.
         
      • Forget sizingAs with any new server technology - sizing appropriately is always a challenge. Plattner specifically mentioned that SAP with Hana Cloud now can re-size the RAM used by a subscriber. I assume SAP has seen some wide variations of the up to 5x compression factor, depending on the data to be compressed
         
      • Automatic UpdatesEqually Plattner hit home on the faster release cycle capability of a cloud system over an on premise system.
         
      • Complexity Masking / ReductionThe new Cloud Frame administration software will mask a lot of the complexity of running your own hardware in house - and customers will not need to come up to speed with the low level intricacies anymore
         
      • Try before BuyA few times the trial aspect came up -just upload your data and see what Hana can do - if you like it - keep Hana around and build more on it - if not disengage again. This is of course hampered by the SAP licensing model at this point - but see more on that below.
         
      • Better performance & elasticityPerformance on the larger boxes that SAP has procured is superior to smaller boxes enterprise may purchase. And the usage can grow and be reduced as needed.


      Why all the talk on latency?

      Since a long time Hasso Plattner has SAP engineers work under the 1 second performance deadline (remember that myself...), that any enterprise application should return control back to the users under one second. For a long time Hasso (correcly) maintained that due to network latencies, the 1 second performance mandate could not be achieved if servers would not be on premise solution.  But now both executives claimed that SAP has managed to keep latency to 120 ms round trip to any data center of SAP - leaving close to 800 ms to application compute time, enough time for the Hana architecture to return meaningful results. 

      PaaS or IaaS?

      Plattner also mentioned that Hana ships with a number of application libraries - not only functional to populate data and analytic libraries, but also vertical KPI libraries for e.g. healthcare and oil & gas industries.  This was a clear stab to SAS CEO Jim Goodnight claiming that it's not enough to just have a database that he recently made at the SAS user conference. 

      But overall SAP does not offer enough packaged development tools for 3rd party developers to start building their applications on Hana on the cloud today. My guess is we need to wait for Netweaver (or Hana) Cloud products to be bundled and made available in the cloud - maybe even only to Sapphire next week. And despite Plattner claimed that you can use any programming language and application server on top of Hana, it would be good to see that as supported offering and being uptaken by enterprise software vendors beyond SAP. 

      Until then - I see Hana Cloud clearly (still) on the IaaS side.


      Screen Shot of Hana Cloud Frame

      True next generation applications - we are (still) waiting

      This remains my sore spot with SAP - again all examples mentioned were traditional performance problems (manufacturing runs, distribution optimization, pricing yield management etc) - nothing though provoking, innovative on how an in-memory enabled enterprise should operate in the 21st century. You should notice that 95% of the event was about technology, and applications were marginalized. 

      But I am still hoping for Sapphire bring up more though leadership in the area of in memory best practices. (see my Sapphire wish list here).

      Still Terra Incognita - or better nubes incognitae for SAP*

      While it was great to see SAP embrace a good number of the cloud benefits as mentioned above, their remain a number of key cloud capabilities and practices that SAP has been mum on. Again this may change already next week, but here are the key misses:
      • While the deployment is now elastic - the licensing isn't. SAP requires customers to bring their own license - and has no way to scale up or scale down the licensing usage of Hana, based on the customer's needs. This is part of the overall challenges of a license vendor moving from license revenue to subscription revenue - not an easy nut to crack. So while SAP gets the disruption on the technology side - it needs to step up to make the business side, too.
         
      • SAP rightfully made the elasticity claim - but with booking capacity on a monthly level - with industry best practices being on an hourly level with Amazon's AWS - the usage pricing model needs to be equally adjusted.
          
      • As mentioned, Hana Cloud is more IaaS than PaaS and far from SaaS. SAP ultimately needs to be a SaaS vendor and equally rethink the licensing and release policy of its business applications. For SAP to lead a cloud initiative from the bottom up and not the top down - remains something that keeps puzzling. Should SAP even talk about technology - or instead talk about great enterprise applications?
         
      • It remains unclear who will run the data centers - SAP themselves or SAP partners. Since cloud requires enterprises to do a significant leap of faith - SAP will need to provide more information on the deployment side. If SAP chooses the partners and avoids the capex hit - it will slow down speed to market and reduce SAP's control over the technology adoption - and ultimately its success.
         
      • Cloud integration is one of the recent buzzwords in the market, but also a real world problem for companies moving to the cloud. Nothing addressed by SAP at the event, the challenge seems to be that Netweaver (or Hana) Cloud platform are not ready yet (again we will see next week at Sapphire).
      The good news for SAP is, that assuming Hana Enterprise Cloud will be a success, that all of the above will need to be addressed successfully, so Hana Enterprise Cloud revenue keeps thriving. It's always good to have revenue goals helping to overcome roadblocks of other nature.

      MyPOV

      With RAM storage remaining the most expensive piece of Hana hardware, using the cloud to make Hana applications more elastic, is a smart move by SAP. If all enterprise data though will move to this expensive cloud medium - will remain to be seen. The Oracle flash based plans for Oracle 12c are  more affordable in the next years, but I hope nothing limits SAP to deploy Hana equally on flash memory. 

      Moreover, being successful with a IaaS product in the database area is a challenge, a challenge so big, even better marketing and sales driven organizations (aka salesforce) have not made a killing with their IaaS products (database.com). And SAP needs to pick up a lot of speed - as with all things in the cloud - Amazon AWS is the benchmark, redshift is the hurdle - and with Infor endorsing it - redshift is noticeably ahead of Hana at this point. 

      But congratulations to SAP for embracing key cloud capabilities - May 5th 2013 is a historic milestone for the company - but a lot more needs to be addressed to make Hana a full true cloud success story. As mentioned above, key cloud benefits are still not addressed or need to be addressed soon, first and foremost on the licensing side. A promising start nonetheless. 

      --------------

      Follow my tweet collection on Storify:



      Watch the video of the press conference here.

      * For the lucky reader that did not have to learn Latin in school...

      • terra incognita - unknown land
      • nubes incongnitae - unknown clouds





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      Writing about enterprise software these days makes you easily forget how software is created - a developer typing lines of code into a programming environment, better following a good specification or sprint manifest,  testing it, hopefully documenting it, releasing it and maintaining it.


      For most enterprise software vendors, that decision has been made long time ago, for SAP it's ABAP, for Oracle it's PL/SQL, for salesforce it's APEX etc. (yes they all will argue that it's Java code they are writing right now, too). For those vendor's customers it usually means that at some point in the life cycle of owning these enterprise platforms, they need to become proficient in these languages - either through hiring specialists or bringing their IT team up to speed.


      But then - a lot of software is written on a day by day basis, that is not running on any of the enterprise vendor platforms. Here are some of the spark plugs for this sort of software creation:


      • End user programming - An employee gets tired of a certain problem, thinks there needs to be a better way, remembers what programming languages he / she learnt in college and goes to work. Often Excel and then a variety of programming languages depending on the employee age and the college curriculum are the tools of choice. Younger employees will use Java, Ruby, Phyton, older ones PHP, even older ones  Pascal (ok in Europe), Fortran and Cobol (yes Microfocus still sells a PC compiler).
      • Departmental projects - We all have seen these, a department head gets tired of something not working, and ask in his staff meeting who can program... an initially timid staffer will raise his / her hand and spend some nighttime and weekend hours creating a software solution to the problem. The staffer will become the hero of the department if all goes well. The tool of choice is mostly Microsoft Excel. If projects and schedules are involved - basecamp is often a popular choice.
      • Plug in projects - From time to time enterprises embark into consulting projects that need to be realized in software. Examples are advertising management, shift planning, delivery routing etc. We are also seeing that virtually every analytic project (of the real analytics, the one that predict / recommend something) - need a software plug in to collect data, and return their analytic results.
      • Enterprise stop gap / innovation / differentiation projects - Despite the enterprise using a standard enterprise software package, executives have decided they cannot wait for some automation to materialize on the vendor's road map, and don't think there are feasible / viable smaller vendors out there to fulfill that need. Projects may also start because the enterprise feels that it does need to differentiate vis-a-vis the competition. Examples are to mobilize an application to smartphones / tablets, creating / enabling employee self services, and other enterprise automation needs.


      In the two latter examples - the choice of platform is not so obvious. Excel can't solve this anymore and the classic programming environments are a daunting endeavor to embark on. So how can you make enterprises be made more efficient while addressing such automation needs? There will be some parameters you will need to execute along:

      • Abstraction - You will need to abstract significantly on lower level programming needs, in order to make the developer of this platform more productive.
      • Modelling - You will need to achieve a  much higher level modelling approach than the general purpose programming platforms.
      • Automation - You will want to automate many of the programming needs through automation, that avoids needing to code for most of the engineering needs.
      • Packaging - You will want to make the move from coding to run time as easy and pain free as possible.
      • Cross platform- You will want to provide rich cross platform support (databases, languages, browsers, mobile, social) to protect code and be able to re-use the code beyond a temporary delivery  form.
      • Cloud support - Though this is really a combination of automation and packaging, the ability to deploy the new automation to the cloud is a significant parameter to support.

      All those design guidelines will have to become real in a model, that will allow a developer of the system to be highly productive.

      Enter Mendix

      Mendix was founded in 2005 in Rotterdam with the idea to simplify the creation of business applications. The company has grown and moved its headquarters to Boston, and so has the platform which you can label as a PaaS, aPaaS or “cloud application platform”. But Mendix goes beyond generic PaaS as it takes care of the software creation process in a more unique way.



      Integrated Feedback Loop

      In general the software industry has made it hard for users to provide feedback on using applications. Yes, there are user conferences and forums, more recently Facebook pages, but an Oracle or SAP user would never dream to provide feedback to the vendor. For packaged applications the feedback cycle may be even considered fundamentally broken, but it does not seem to faze the industry too much. But if you build custom applications, the a working feedback loop between the application users and its developers is  more vital - as all players know each other, or at least can easily reach it other as they work in the same enterprise.

      But instead of relying on traditional ways of communicating feedback, Mendix allows the user to directly capture feedback to an application on a very granular level, right at the screen to which the feedback is associated to.


      The feedback then gets into a queue that developers can access, answer and even more importantly can slot them for future sprints of future releases. The feedback queue is combined with a company and project team wide discussion threads labelled as buzz and operates similar to the popular feeds found on the web, but also allows to aggregate and manage projects, documents and ideas. Polls can be started to validate feedback and collect more broader user community feedback.



      Visual Programming

      In order to stay true to the RAD DNA, Mendix offers a visual logic flow, which allows for composing business applications instead of writing low level code constructs.




      Mendix provides complete flexibility to design any database domain model you need. Moreover the Mendix application model gets exposed on a very granular level, allowing to add and change attributes, modify validations, change the UI layouts etc.




      Like with every visual tool, potential concerns arise when having to model very extensive, complex flows, but as you can embed flows into each other, Mendix offers the standard industry solution for complexity reduction. And if the functionality needs should exceed the capability of the model on the side of functional capability, then Mendix allows for Java extensions. This adds complexity to the deployment, but is a key outlet needed for a model based platform and with Java Mendix chose the right technical implementation to address this challenge.


      Support for Agile Programming


      While developers have been coding since a long time, the common understanding of best practices to create code nowadays is to support agile techniques, as postulated in the Agile Manifesto. And Mendix supports agile methodologies, with the administration of sprints, sharing the sprint objectives and tracking to sprint deliverables:



      Enterprise integration

      In order to provide value for their customer's existing enterprise applications, Mendix has realized, that integration with the existing enterprise landscape is key - so Mendix offers integration with SAP, Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics, salesforce and more. Mendix also ties in existing application integration platforms with out of the box support for Tibco and Sharepoint.


      As everyone ever having successfully built an integration to other enterprise application, this effort requires a lot of proprietary knowledge acquisition - Mendix offers the advantage, that the integration is exposed in the platform. This means that the developer using Mendix does not need to learn these integration intricacies - but can stay in the realms of the Mendix App Platform:




      Ideally Mendix will also be able to shield Mendix applications from changes in the integration architecture of the underlying applications and technologies - which is a further advantage of model based development.


      App Store

      Another key element of a successful  application PaaS platform is the availability of rich App Store, that helps developers of the PaaS system to embed large functional code segments, without mastering the details of the inner working. Very similar to the integration options to the enterprise applications, the app store entries help developers to provide rich, functional applications in very little time.




      Cloud Deployment

      Once an application is modelled with Mendix, deployment is easy, with the famous 1 click, the application will run in a public (Mendix managed) cloud, private cloud or on premise. The use of the Mendix cloud takes out the complexity of deployment, as it is seamlessly available to the developer as part of the platform without any set-up or configuration work. However, also offering the private cloud and on-premise deployment option is a key competitive differentiator and advantage for organizations not ready to make the move to the cloud.


      On the flipside, you can only deploy Mendix applications into a Mendix operated or Mendix aware cloud, the Mendix stack needs to be resident in the cloud option of choice as a requirement to run the application.


      Partner Potential

      All the above capabilities make Mendix an ideal partner for organizations that are in the custom application business. Primarily this maybe the well known SIs, who need a tool to address gaps in the functionality on an enterprise landscape, or IT outsourcers that need to satisfy customer service levels, but want to keep code creation and operating costs at a minimum. Last but  not  least Mendix is also an attractive option for companies, that need custom applications to bring their offerings to life, like analytics, BI, data enrichment and deduplication vendors, as e.g. the recent addition of Mendix as the application tool the FICO analytic cloud shows.


      How does Mendix do?

      If you scroll up and look at the 6 key features a RAD tool will need, Mendix overall does very well. It scores very well in terms of abstraction, a user literally does not see anything of typical coding, its modelling capability is very good. Equally it automates the application delivery down to the famous one click and packaging is something completely in existing in the perception of the user. The cross platform support with the capability to deploy for mobile is solid. Room for improvement exists on the cloud deployment side - where support for a larger variety of different clouds will surely be welcome in the Mendix target market. 

      MyPOV


      Mendix offers an elegant and powerful option to rapid application creation and delivery needs, with little training required to become dangerous (in a positive way) on the platform. As with any RAD / model based tool, users trade off some flexibility for the cost of efficiency, so customers need to be aware of that trade off. Mendix has done a  very good job moving to a richer PaaS offering and should be the tool of choice for many custom application needs.

      Going forward it will be good to see Mendix widening support for other cloud deployments, ideally starting with the option to deploy a Mendix application into the leading public cloud, Amazon's AWS.




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      It's amazing to me how much information is coming out of SAP before Sapphire on the cloud side - I cannot remember any Sapphire conference of my 20+ or so editions, that this much information about very key products for the company have leaked out before Sapphire so widely and publicly.

      I hope its an indication for a more open, social and sharing SAP - which would be good for SAP and the whole ecosystem. On the flip side I feel for the marketing professionals at SAP, because this is not (at least the classic and proven path) how to build up and execute momentum before your key user conference.



      So in the last 24 hours a blog post by @aiazkazi (you can find it here) and @bgoerke (you can find it here) did a lot of cloud busting before Sapphire. And since Aiaz and Bjoern work right under the executive board, and are kind of partners in crime for cloud matters, it is reliable enough to chart the way forward into the cloud, as we can expect it to materialize next week at Sapphire.


      Hana Enterprise Cloud

      This week we saw the - again with surprising timing - the launch of the Hana Enterprise Cloud (HEC). I called it a promising start, since it was the first time I saw senior SAP executives, in this case Hasso Plattner and Vishal Sikka, use cloud unique benefits to pitch homegrown SAP product. This is different than e.g. Lars Dalgaard preaching about the cloud, his whole background is cloud, he sells his past Successfactors products, so that's an easy pitch. But to see Hasso Plattner associating easy ramp-up, making hardware provisioning obsolete for customers, staying on the latest code with a SAP product while claiming to satisfy the much postulated sub 1 second  response time - is a first and shows a good turn in thinking and thus in SAP products.


      From IaaS to PaaS - thanks to Hana Cloud Platform


      My take was that HEC clearly was IaaS, which got confirmed with tweets with a few SAP mentors in the aftermath of my post. It was unclear earlier in the week what would make HEC to become a platform, a PaaS player and the foundation to build the game changing killer apps, that I am waiting for SAP to come up with - hopefully sooner than later. So Hana Cloud Platform (HCP) provides the platform support needed to create applications on HEC, so what are the features and products in HCP? Earlier this week the focus was only around the database with Hana - which was fine - but that didn't shed much light on how to build applications on HEC.


      The HCP as described here


      Behind Hana Cloud Platform stands Neo & more


      Neo was the codename for the initiative of bringing NetWeaver to the cloud - re-inventing (or better re-writing) the infrastructure pieces, that in the past had weighted SAP products down, a key component being the Landscape Virtualization, which is SAP's attempt to make their products more elastic. Neo's product incarnation was NetWeaver cloud platform (NCP). It looks to me that NCP components find themselves again in HCP and the latest NetWeaver releases - NetWeaver 7.4. Here it's actually still quite cloudy and it would be good to know from SAP, which components go where (but anyone can make an educated guess).


      So what has been taken / moved from NCP into HCP:


      • All the good Java / JVM work that was done for NCP is now part of HCP, including the Eclise based IDE
         
      • Platform enablement services such as persistence (SAP is re-using the code for the Business Suite here, goo), identity management, document management, mail services, HTML 5 support
         
      • The operations console - a key component for any cloud platform
         
      I am also assuming the ABAP Server was somehow made part of HCP - no SAP product without ABAP support - but that's an assumption right now.

      How to build HCP applications

      Thanks to the re-use of NCP for HCP, developers now can create applications in an Eclipse environment, using Java - and JVM byte code compatible applications with e.g. Ruby, Python, Scala etc. And there is of course the existing Hana Studio with support of JavaScript / SQLscript. Good news is, that the River RAD platform with its RDL language seems to be coming to Hana too - but no date is set. 



      Developers than have access to a plethora of services
      • Application Services
        Mobile, Portal, Security and integration - courtesy of NCP
        Analytics - courtesy of Hana and BW
        Collaboration - courtesy of Jam (not sure how though that will integrate)
         
      • Enablement Services
        Applications & Systems Management - courtesy of NCP)
        Administration & Monitoriing - courtesy of NCP and Hana
         
      • Database Services
        Transactions, Analytics (again?), Streaming, Predictive, Spatial, Text Mining - all courtesy of Hana (and all the way back to fabled TRex for text mining
         
      That is a powerful and impressive collection of services to build applications, no doubt. And some of it - is free for trial, application building.

      NetWeaver 7.4 - confusion stopped

      At the same time SAP announced the GA of NetWeaver 7.4 - so NetWeaver is still around and doing well - as the foundation of the Business Suite. And it shares code lines with the NCP / HCP - e.g. in regards of database services, as SAP is using the same code to bring the Business Suite to use Hana as for the new built applications on top of HCP. 


      The original NetWeaver RoadMap - from here

      Good news for NetWeaver 7.4 is also, that it allows the older Business Suite applications will be able to call newly built HCP applications, of course something highly desirable and enabled by splitting the former NCP services across the NetWeaver line and the future HCP platform line.

      Likewise the claim is there, that HCP built applications can call back to the Business Suite, a claim I am close to believe since again, same foundation and a huge necessity for SAP to build the next generation applications on HCP.

      Still looking for the killer apps

      I have criticized SAP many times for not showing the though leadership for businesses running their enterprise software in memory. All the examples and apps are just throwing a faster database to an old, well known, but not really solved performance problem of the fast, created by business process locked in the past. We all know - or at least feel, that 21st century best business practices, running in memory - need to be and will be different than what was created on an incredible more limited application infrastructure last century. Just remember that one key driver for relational databases was to... save disk space!

      And while @vijaysankarv lays down the case, why there is no real killer app in his blog, my reply to him on Twitter was, that SAP needs to first create the next generation platform, before it can build the next generation killer app. And the recent clarifications bring SAP much closer to the next generation application platform.

      What's missing

      Well, first and foremost pricing, and I hope that SAP will shed some light at Sapphire next week. The BYOL (Bring your own license) is definitively not a cloud business practice. 

      The other key question is elasticity of the offering, the key benefit of the cloud. Requiring customers to buy capacity on a monthly based for HEC is not a good sign of easy administration and dynamic memory allocation etc. Which leads to the question of the capability of the landscape services. 

      Equally there is no clarity (yet) on how productive a developer will be in building brand new applications, and hybrid applications that enhance the existing business suite applications. 

      The part that concerns me the most at this point is elasticity. And while SAP has done a good job with the NCP Landscape Management - it does not make elasticity much easier to handle - as you have a bunch of older, non elastic apps to administer. We all remember the TCO debacle around by-design - caused by too many layers in the application architecture. And while SAP got rid of the layers in the next generation application architecture, the overall system landscape is more complex than the one by design ran on. I would really like for SAP to abandon any internal, proprietary standard for virtualization / elasticity and follow the many other vendors that have endorsed Openstack standards. 

      It's ironic - the by design product stumbled over too many layers on a single system, HEC may stumble despite fewer application layers over too many systems in the landscape... I hope this is a concern about nothing... 

      What does this all mean?

      Let's play this through for the constituents of the SAP ecosystem...

      For customers this should be good news, SAP embracing more cloud will ultimately lead to a more modern application architecture and infrastructure. And as the cloud is all about lowering TCO, this trend may als happen to the SAP cloud offerings. But in the neartime, make very sure that you now what it will cost you and that you can benefit from hopefully sooner than later coming cost reductions - both on the licensing as well as the operating cost side. You can influence SAP by keeping the pressure up to keep supporting the Business Suite AMI packages on Amazon - and push and shove for SAP to commit to support production instances on Amazon as well. This will keep SAP honest with cost and keep a focus on value.

      For partners it means much more to play, more to learn and more to advise SAP customer on. It's also not clear what customization strategy you should pursue, I hope SAP will clarify this next week much more. It's also an opportunity to create value added applications, filling the void of the killer app that SAP has left so far. SAP is doing well at partnering and fostering an ecosystem for Hana partners, true to the spirit of let many flowers grow. But if you build applicatons on HEC - you need to be aware that for good or bad - you are tied to SAP's ecosystem.

      For SAP this means the closure of many separate development streams - just think of the consolidation that this means for the NetWeaver platform. But it also means that a new programming model (pardon the SAP lingo) - that will need to be trained, digested and executed. Building edge applications is only a short to medium term strategy, so at some point SAP will have to start building core automation, hopefully with 21st business practices in mind, on the HCP for HEC. That would be (pardon the Oracle lingo) a Fusion type event. But ABAP will not run cost effectively forever in a multi core world.

      MyPOV

      6 days before Sapphire SAP has unleashed a lot of information around their future cloud offerings. Still don't know why that early and not at Sapphire. But it was very good to see senior SAP executives use cloud benefits to justify the new HEC offering. On the flip side - a lot of key cloud DNA is still missing, the good news is - if SAP wants to succeed (and I am sure they want) then the rest will have to fall in place. SAP may like it (faster modern applications) or not (lower license sales, teaching the elephant to be elastic).

      With every announcement there comes confusion, but thanks to blogs and twitter and open information  sharing by Aiaz, Bjoern and a relentless Vijay (@vijayasankarv) - much more clarity is there by now... and it's still 48 hours (or so) before Sapphire 2013 starts.  

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      While we learnt some things about Hana Enterprise Cloud (HEC) at its launch last week, and a little more this week at Sapphire - what dawned on me in the aftermath, is that elasticity is a fundamental challenge off HEC and any in memory offering. 





      Elasticity - revisited

      Let's remind ourselves what elasticity in the cloud is all about. It's the dynamic ramp up (and ramp down) of computing resources for a cloud application. If we look at the market leader - Amazon's AWS - it's basically the process to get another AWS instance up and running based on an AMI file, that was somewhere stored, stored on a .... Hard Disk Drive (HDD). As that AMI gets loaded from hard disk to memory, capacity of the cloud application increases. When less capacity is requested, AWS will take instances down, adjusting capacity to demand. This shows elasticity ramping up and ramping down computing resources. 

      So that's elasticity of code - but what about elasticity for data? In contrast to code, data can never be just taken down like code instances, as it will  / may have to be needed later again. So ultimately all data will have to become persistent, and that means it needs to be stored on HDD at some point. Of course, like many of the major Internet properties, you could use the faster and more expansive flash storage instead of HDD. But it will equally make the data persistent. 

      Obviously elasticity is the key influencer of TCO for any cloud, as you can manage load to your computing resources.

      Hana's raison d'être is the core of the challenge 

      Hana was designed to be an in memory database - and with that it's core DNA of being in memory creates also its key challenge, creating Issues with any form of elasticity. With Hana's father, Hasso Plattner, being adamant to look at other options of data storage, Hana can only keep data in memory, expensive RAM memory and with that it doesn't offer any options where else to move data. 

      Hana can't be elastic for data - only static

      From above it's clear - there is no place where to move the data from Hana. Used or not used - it stays in expensive RAM memory. Yes RAM prices are dropping, but so have Flash and HDD costs. Definitively there is more or in for prices decreases on the RAM side, but we will have to wait to see how fast they materialize.
      Obviously SAP could create the mechanisms to make code elastic. Meaning to find a way to take code out of the Hana RAM and put it on a cheaper, persistent medium for storage, when not needed. And SAP has a lot of experience in this area, just look at the mechanisms SAP put into the memory management of its ABAP code. Gigabytes of ABAP code get moved, cached and parsed very well in the much more resource thrifty R/3 architecture. But the prize for that would be small - as memory used by code in the HEC should be dwarfed by memory used by data.

      Take a page from Teradata?

      Maybe the Hana architects should look at the recent Terradata announcements of adding another category to their hot / cold storage algorithms for data... Which only puts the hottest data in memory, and the coldest on HDD, the remainder distributed between differently fast and expensive storage mediums. SAP could put in place a similar algorithm - are there actually faster and slower parts of RAM? Like writing data on the outside vs inside of a HDD.

      Hana needs a bigger L1

      Sometimes SAP also touts their collaboration with their hardware partners around the improvements needed for in memory architectures. And you could make the case, that the speed with which RAM chips can feed data closer to the processor, the L1, L2 etc chips will make a difference. Or a much larger L1 cache. But that would slow down the processor as you want to feed the right bite sized portions to the processor. So maybe a bigger L3? We will see what SAP and partners will come up with - but it will certainly not be too much low hanging fruit. 

      MyPOV

      While Hana can certainly make the claim for speed, it also requires storing data in the most expensive and most limited storage medium we have today. RAM.  Since SAP cannot make the data storage side elastic easily, with some of the motivation arbitrary though, it will make Hana solutions pricey. If SAP would consider strategies to make the data storage more elastic, it should help Hana, as it will make more cost benefit assessments of in memory applications favorable for Hana.

      Side note: my 1st blog written in the air, 1st written on an iPad, 1st published in the air - thanks GoGo - and written about cloud - edited in the cloud (Google Drive and Blogger) - dreamt up above the clouds. Technology makes it happen.

      0 0

      Thanks to the power of the internet, one could sit in the first row today following the keynotes of both SAP and Netsuite for their respective user conferences, Sapphire and SuiteWorld. With a combined 26000 attendees, these are events that dwarf minor cities, with the bulk (20k) not surprisingly going to SAP.


      Whats SAP news

      SAP had to cram back to the event filled last week, namely the Hana Enterprise Cloud launch, so the press releases around the Hana Cloud Platform was a look back and around for anything cloud. And SAP claims now to have over 29 million users in the cloud... not sure how they came up with that number. The biggest lasting change from this press releases is the extensive renaming of products, adding more of the cloud tag to the product names... The re-organization around the 4 categories of People, Money, Customer and Supplier makes sense - but what do I make out of this, when I am a manufacturing company? (See Netsuite below - co-incidence?)

      The other focus was around SAP's challenged mobile offering. SAP is partnering with Mocana and delivering a mobile device cloud for Afaria, the price seems right with one US$ per device and month. It's ironic, since one of the competitive stabs of McDermott was, that SAP kept investing in the acquired solutions, well these two partnerships show, that maybe SAP kept investment in Afaria (doubt it though) but certainly the development team missed the boat in regards of in app embedded security, as well as providing a cloud provisioned service. Ironically SAP is deploying the new cloud based MDM solution not on Hana Enterprise Cloud - but on Amazon's AWS. Maybe MDM data is too expensive to hold in memory? All a question of   elasticity

      The press releases were rounded up with the  most prominent of all verticals at this Sapphire so far - Sports & Entertainment - got a lot of airtime - and SAP event admits that luminaries of the sports world attended. Must be cool to have Justin Gimelstob show up in your Analytics presentation. But does this make SAP products better? My tweet that this is really a technology, not an applications pitch made the Top5 tweets of ASUG (many thanks!) - and that's what it's about. At least SAP is open and honest about it in the press release. 


      What's NetSuite News

      Nicely timed NetSuite got the prize from Gartner as the fastest growing Financial Management software vendor globally. I guess it pays if you start and stick to your roots, remember NetSuite started as ... NetLedger. 

      NetSuite then made the day all about manufacturing. The new found love in heavy manufacturing functionality seems to be the next growth path NetSuite wants to take. Starting at the cradle of all manufacturing. design, with a partnership with Autodesk and re-telling the PLM story makes sense. But most of the functionality is a me-too for established vendors - though they have not delivered that all in the cloud yet. 

      NetSuite also announced a partnership to help the company on the procurement side, with CapGemini - using both services, the CG IBX procurement platform and supplier network. Not sure how much of a BPO play NetSuite has, but it was part of the announced services mix. A good move to address global services needs and complementing procurement automation. Also on the partner side NetSuite made a virtue of a necessity: A cloud vendor needs to ensure compatibility of partner offerings running on its cloud infrastructure - so why not certify them - so NetSuite announced the 'built for NetSuite' partner program.


      The Nelson delivery 

      Nelson and the NetSuite marketing opted for a classic software keynote - CEO on stage, running the whole keynote, some competitive jabs, some announcements, customers (Williams Sonoma) and partners, a software demo etc. 
      Nelson on stage - thanks @LevineAaron
      Nelson did a great job leading through the keynote - and while he is not as smooth as the Xerox trained McDermott, he gets the job done, every year a little better. 


      The McDermott delivery

      If you ever want to see a spotless presentation, look at Bill McDermott's delivery. Even a notch better than last year, he had the ungrateful job to make the most of nothing - no product announcements, so he resorted to something he seems to really like, sports. And the idea to host the main part of the keynote in the CBS sports format, hosted by James Brown, was an excellent and entertaining idea. But it felt lengthy at times and for most in the audience, apart from the entertainment factor - what was the relevance to the average SAP user, buyer, partner in the audience?


      The CBS SportsDesk - thanks to @TimoElliott
      It was sad to see Calderoni then trying to keep the energy level up... which was tough, but format and delivery was sub par. Disney as a customer provided an infomercial about Disney. Instead of showing how all SAP customers can become Ariba customers and how they can benefit - precious keynote time was wasted. And no live software, a Q&A with the CMO of Ariba - where are the development execs of Ariba?


      The Marketing Battle

      Well it's only day 1 for both conferences, that last three days - but here NetSuite clearly out did SAP. With SAP announcing only two new mobile offerings, a vertical press release for Sports and Entertainment industries and a deja-vu release for Hana Cloud Platform - clearly SAP has so far been announcing early, with Hana Enterprise Cloud, Lumira, NetWeaver 7.4 GA and SAPUI5. That would have been enough to power whole Sapphires of the past years. I am still mystified of the timing - see my partially humorous Top 10 tweets trying to make sense of it here... 

      I am sure on sheer mass SAP won this hands down - but in terms of relative audience, number of customers and marketing budget - the 1st day round goes to NetSuite on the marketing side.


      MyPOV

      Good starts for both companies into their key user events. Classic format for NetSuite, good delivery by Nelson, happy customers. Impeccable delivery by McDermott - as usual - innovative idea with the CBS sports desk - but then Calderoni was literally left standing on stage and  customers were walking out of keynote. Looking forward to day 2 of both conferences.  

      0 0

      So today was day 2 of two key enterprises software conferences - SAP's Sapphire and Netsuite's Suiteworld. Happening across the north American continent it allows bloggers 'on the fences' like your struly to follow both events, thanks to the streaming offering.


      Yesterday I started with SAP - so let's give NetSuite the start today:

      What's NetSuite News

      As expected today was calmer on the press front, with 5 more signifcant releases yesterday. The big release today was about filling NetSuite's gap in the HCM area - not with one or two partnership - but 8 partnerships with HCM enterprise software vendors. Of the 8 vendors 7 have achieved built on NetSuite partner status, the new certification program for NetSuite partners. These are like a little who is who in the HCM field - Ascentis, CloudPay, NOVAtime,Silkroad and TribeHR. Only the venerable Meta4 was missing, but pretty sure they will be certified before not too long. It looks like the integration burden falls on Dell's Boomi, which was also certified for built on NetSuite.  Definitively NetSuite shows some weight in the enterprise software space with getting that many vendors on board in time for SuiteWorld.

      And then there were four more press releases of successful customer adoption to NetSuite, impressive that they are all outside of the US, so the international expansion of NetSuite seems to be well under way. These are Rags2Riches from the Philippines a market place for women selling products and services. Guzman y Gomes from Australia, a dining chain. Hairhouse Warehouse, also from Australia  a hair and beauty retailer. And lastly online game developer Zattika from the UK.

      What's SAP News

      The big news was the general availability of the Business Suite on Hana for the majority of core and industry extensions. No question this is a major engineering feat, for which SAP deserves credit. Unfortunately it was not totally clear what was still missing. It would be good to also understand what specifically the smarter business models are, that the press release refers to. One benefit mentioned is that with the move to the Hana Platform, applications get access to social media, namely SAP Jam. Needless to say this all runs on the new Hana Enterprise Cloud, already announced last week.

      And then SAP announced that basically Hana Cloud Platform is the new unified platform for all businesses trying to leverage and extend existing investments to the cloud. This means you can use your business suite license and run it on Hana Enterprise Cloud, but you can also stay on premise and extend your Business Suite with the new (or old) cloud applications, that will or are running on Hana Cloud Platform (already). So for the cloud applications on the People side this is more global support for Employee Central, the new SuccessFactors Onboarding and Successfactors Learning. On the Customer side there was the claim that SAP has been doubling customers in this segment for the last 5 quarters - which gives another interesting aspect to the whole CRM market size controversy. Today the Money side wasn't absent - with additional country support and integration with 3rd party payment providers and banks. The Travel solution equally got extended as well as the expense solution. And even ByDesign, the product that was very quiet this Sapphire - was extended. And of course Ariba did not stood still, as didn't its Business Network. 

      And then there was also BusinessOne - with new functionality in version 9.0, country support and additional features for BusinessOne on Hana - remember this was the first product on Hana. Glad that SAP mentioned in the first lines of the press release, that this is a product on the Microsoft technology stack, running Microsoft SQL server. 

      The  most significant release of real news was actually around SAP Fiori (Italian for Flowers). Its a set of mobile / tablet designed apps, delivered in HTML5 using SAPUI5 (just GA this weekend), SAP Gateway and add-ons to the Business Suite. Another attempt to address the combination of self service and mobile needs - much improved. Checkout the nice launch website here and Bjoern Gerke's blog

      The Hagemann-Snabe delivery

      The keynote delivery of Hagemann-Snabe was solid, a routine job well done by Jim. I felt the storytelling abilities have improved a lot - and were also challenged by the lengthy intro, talking about tigers, Darwin and IT evolution. McDermott just said - slow kills companies. Hagemann-Snabe called it in nature you are either at the table eating, or you are on the table. If you wondered on the multicultural differences between the US and Europe - here you have a prime time exhibit. 



      But a lot of time was burnt with the lecture on darwinism and then a lengthy but entertaining interview with the CEO of McLaren (sponsored by SAP). The oddity on Hana continued with Hagemann-Snabe asking, Dennis, what Hana meant for him... and sadly he even said at the end - here you hear it. I really would have liked to hear from Hagemann-Snabe what his view and vision is for Hana. And ok it came later... it's the one platform SAP plans to reinvent themselves on. Sadly with McLaren there was also only the only software demo of the whole keynote (!), nicely done by Fred Sansom, but the Hana UI's just look subpar to me. With 6.5B data pieces from a McLaren car during a race, I expect a much  richer, interactive UI than a checklist... Glad to see an attempt to predictive was made:


      Then the keynote went on to reveal that  most of Business Suite and Verticals are now on Hana, with 100 beta customers - but why not see a demo and why not speak to any of them? Hagemann-Snabe made clear that Hana is the Innovation platform for SAP going forward, but again where were the customers? An impressive statement was made in regards of SAP reducing TCO by 30% by moving its CRM instance to Hana... I very  much look forward to learn more about this.



      And then we had a customer panel with Pepsi, Timken and Nestle - all choosing cloud solutions - with the former using Successfactors and the latter the Customer (former Sales on demand) products. Hagemann-Snabe then went over last weeks Hana Enterprise Cloud deployment options and rounded it up with yesterdays MDM cloud offering (on Amazon AWS).

      The Goldberg delivery

      Here we knew to expect to be in for something totally different. Form the intro sketch, were Goldberg became Suiteman who would fight off all sorts of villains, in a Batman style setting. Unfortunately it was not possible to be seen via webcast, due to copyright restrictions. 


      Goldberg kicked off with giving a status update back to the audience on promises he made a year ago - nice way to close  the loop and create trust - key stats were NetSuite customers made 73B in total revenue, total downtime for last year was 105 minutes, almost 20% of Netsuite revenue goes into R&D, approx. 50M, 54 countries are supported for tax and local compliance, 19 languages are supported. Impressive.

      He then brought the CIO of Qualcomm on stage, talking about the international roll out of NetSuite for the company, and the customer was very positive about the product.  

      Goldberg also made a stab in regards of Workday and their recent announcements around customization. Said he can't understand how you could wait for 7 years with that. And that NetSuite was build form the ground up to support customization. 



      It was positive that Goldberg right away acknowledged the NetSuite UI challenges, starting with mobile, and there with the mandatory iPhone demo. And while the iPhone UI looked very good, I was surprised that it's only now that NetSuite users can enter data on mobile devices. And the iPhone is the start - you will have to wait - with no roadmap - for other popular platforms. Next was the intro of sticky notes - a good way to enhance collaboration with enterprise applications, as well as adding data. And I was surprised that NetSuite is now (2012!) introducing a drag and drop mechanism. And while these UI efforts are valiant, they cannot hide the fact, that the NetSuite UI has served its time and needs a redesign from ground up. I had not seen the product in years and was surprised it still looked... the same.

      Next it was nice to see Goldberg demoing the NetSuite IDE, not many development leaders would be comfortable to demo that much down in the details. Breakpoints are certainly a very good addition to help troubleshoot NetSuite code.

      And then it was partner time, with TribeHR showing HCM functionality, that was iFrame-like plugged into the NetSuite canvas. It worked well but mixing up the user interface of two enterprise applications does not make for the best user interaction. As part of the suite commerce product Goldberg showed capabilities acquired with LightCMS. It looked like the commerce product is on a more modern architecture than the NetSuite product. 



      The demo then concluded with a skid of Goldberg buying wine in Napa from a winery running a partner product, eVinery, with follow up purchases from at home. Looked to me like a demo on Microsoft's Metro UI. Then he ordered in for more wine from at home with his wife. Not sure why she was on stage, sure a nice lady, but what does it have to do with NetSuite. And Goldberg was brainstorming out the hilarious descriptions of wine. Entertaining, high involvment (wine!) - but not even mentioned the products involved. The end of the skid was the wine delivery by a familiar UPS guy, Zach Nelson in UPS uniform.

      2 puzzling UI questions

      With both SAP and NetSuite struggling with older UIs and usability complains, I am at a loss on two keynote content decisions: Why did Goldberg only show the self service OpenAir UI at the end? He should have lead with that. And why did Hagemann-Snabe not say a word about Fiori? Why not demo the new HTML5 UI - even if it's only self service like scope? A lot of SAP and NetSuite users interact only through self service-ironic, that both vendors did not show their best UI improvement of the day loudly and proudly.

      The marketing battle

      This day went down as a tie. Moving the Suite to Hana is more heavy lifting unveiled than what we saw from NetSuite. But Goldberg showed existing product - Hagemann-Snabe only one demo. And while Goldberg's keynote was certainly more entertaining, it was also a little bit too quirky. More demos and customer will help NetSuite next time around.

      MyPOV

      Solid performance by SAP, but not sure why so much educational content on tigers, elephants and even dinosaurs. Would have been good if Hagemann-Snabe had shown Fiori, I am sure the audience would have loved it. Very hands on session by Goldberg, should have lead with OpenAir UI and gained much more credibility on addressing the NetSuite UI challenges. 

      SAP announced great things and didn't show them in the keynote, NetSuite did good things and showed them. Look forward to Day 3. 



      Storify from Day 2 Keynote - you can find it here


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