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Author's profile photo Renald Wittwer

Impressions from the SAPphire NOW 2010

Impressions from the SAPphire 2010

The Start

Normally I need half a day to make my head free of all this daily stuff, to change the level of view. This SAPphire, by the way my first SAPphire, was no exception. I needed some time to clean my brain from Loops, Selects and Business-requests. A big help where my new Mentor-fellows, some of them I knew since years, some of the I knew via their Forum-posts and Blogs.

My thought was that as a technical oriented Consultant the Teched would fit better to me. But at the end such an event is not only about hard facts. It is about contacts, networking and impressions. Nevertheless the technical part of mine is not disappointed.  

The first impression of the SAPphire 2010 in Frankfurt was that I wonder about how huge this event is. This SAPphire is the first SAPphire that runs in parallel with the SAPphire in Orlando. All together both SAPphires are followed by 50.000 people direct or via internet. How impressive!

The Maintopics

There are three topics in the middle of this SAPphire: Mobile devices, InMemory computing and sustainability. Of course the acquisition of Sybase is disused everywhere. Actually this acquisition fits exactly to the both first main topics.

What does innovation need?

Sometimes you start to think about something because of a little trigger. As a Mentor we got a Flip camera to select Statements that can be published on YouTube. By the way I did a terrible job with this camera. I will screen my videos at home and see if there is suitable material.

Nevertheless this flip-camera fascinates me. It is easy to use and it is fun to play around with it. Actually in my Mobile phone is a video-camera, too. But I never use it. It is much more fun to use the flip-camera than to use the mobile phone. But what is the reason for that?

Actually I never use the photo-camera of my mobile phone, too. The reason for this is, that it is no fun. The performance is so bad that everybody runs away until you have shot the first photo. Spontanious photos are not possible.

For me as a rational person it is hard to understand: It is not only about what is possible. It is about fun. We don’t want to use Equipment and Software only because of its function, we use it because it makes us curious and we have fun to use it. We want to start with the new function as soon as possible, not after reading the whole manual.

That must be the reason why Apples IPhone and IPad are so successful.

Jim Hageman Snabe said: Innovation starts with Quality. That is true, but Innovation starts also with curiosity, passion and fun! And probably curiosity, passion and fun on both sides, on one side of the developer of the innovative product, on the other side the user of the innovative product.

Beside the Maintopics

But back to SAPphire. One point that satisfy me is, that well known concepts like standardization are not old fashioned. In more than one session was told that standardization was one of the key figures of a successful project.

A very good idea came from Wolfgang Gaertner (CIO Deutsch Bank). He said that they don’t describe the request anymore, but only the gap between the standard process and the request. Sometimes ideas beside the main topics are very valuable. For me this statement was something to think about.


I was asking me one question and not only me. In a session about InMemory computing I asked if it would not be a good idea to change the complete database layer. If you have a database layer with a n InMemory database, the ERP system must be very fasr. Nobody answered this question and now I know why. This is exactly what Hasso Plattner described in his Keynote. A fantastic presentation with the description of an ImMemory Database the will be available back to all 4.6 Systems. For me this is the biggest and best innovation shown on this SAPphire. I talked with some customers about the ImMemory Database, all of them are fascinated about this idea.


Even as a Techie I am more than satisfied with these three days, full of refreshed and new contacts, new impressions and new ideas. It will probably need more than half a day to come back to my daily work.   

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      Author's profile photo Marilyn Pratt
      Marilyn Pratt
      In following your through line about "curiosity, passion and fun" and their importance to innovation, I'm wondering if the innovation you found so attractive in "InMemory(sic) Database that will be available back to all 4.6 Systems" also is characterized by these things.  Can you expand a bit further on why that is a clear instance and if it fulfills those other "attributes"?  (Found yours a very thought-provoking blog by the way so kudos)
      Author's profile photo Renald Wittwer
      Renald Wittwer
      Blog Post Author
      Hi Marilyn,
      thanks for pointing that out and give me the chance to make it a little bit clearer.
      You are right if you ask, if it is really "fun" to backport the database layer.
      Yesterday I spoke with a customer about the SAPphire. Normally these reports need only a few minutes. The common comment is: "Ok, thanks, but this will effect us in a few years." This time was different. We discussed the opportunities of an InMemory Database very long. He got the picture after a few minutes and the answer was: "If this becomes true, this would help us immediately." He is very curious if this will work as expected. And so am I.
      Imagine the new applications, that can be build with this technology. Hasso Plattner presented some ideas, what you can do with your IPhone in seconds. But this will not effect only a few people from the management, it will effect everyone who works with SAP and who will work with SAP.
      It is not the database layer itself that starts the imagination. The new possibilities with such a technology are fantastic. And this will be fun!
      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      I was also in Frankfurt and I have been frustrated to have the Hasso's keynote on in-memory database as the last event without the capability to ask explanation to SAP people.

      This SAPPHIRE was my first exposure on the subject. Tuesday I went to the Innovation booth. After few minutes I made the observation : it could change (revolution) the BW architecture (no ETL anymore). I got an answer : no because it should be reserved to business processes requiring real real time analytics (based on the example aready built for example in the energy area).

      No need to say it is not consistent with Hasso's presentation.

      Beyond that my understanding of the keynote is that it can be applied to older release and on the database attached to the transactional ERP environment.

      On my paper it is a lot of impacts beyond the speed for example :
      + Database skill set requirement
      + Backup strategy
      + Database license
      + archiving strategy (we have been used for years to do performance archiving ... we need to stop it  in order to avoid the ETL process)
      + reporting strategy (we have some reports running for hours)
      + unicode conversion
      + impact on the existing process / design (in the SCM area for example : the DP process)

      The "Change" seems so huge that it does not seem to be realistic to take advantage of the in-memory database for the classical ERP system.
      If SAP confirms they have already assessed all the potential impact on the transactional ERP then it is no more the same IT environment ....
      I am assuming they have properly assessed the BW aspect.

      Author's profile photo Renald Wittwer
      Renald Wittwer
      Blog Post Author
      Hi Patrick,
      as described I had the same experience. I was asking about the chances of an InMemory Database for the ERP system and nobody answered this question.
      I think you have to see it from the marketing perspective. Such a "revolution" needs a start shot that everybody can hear. You are right that there are lots of questions open now.
      I believe that SAP has the power to answer these questions. Perhaps not all of them today, perhaps some answers needs some time.
      But this is the nature of a "revolution"....

      Best regards