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“Do you have kids?”

If so, then there’s a good chance you remember having had more than just one discussion about the ‘right’ name with your partner. I, for one, remember it well. And it just seems natural to not take such a decision lightly as the name is something very important. Hence, it usually is a very emotional and winding decision process… some even say that a name has impact on the (future) character. Well, my wife and me – we called our third daughter Lotta and if you ever read one of the books by Astrid Lindgren than you would have at least some idea what she’s like… (one of the books is called ‘Lotta on Troublemaker Street’ so just that you get the idea!)

The Naming Game

So, we all got a ‘given name’ and whether we like it or not that’s the name our parents have chosen for us and there’s little we can do about it. Now, for many reasons that may not be the name our parents, our friends or colleagues call us by. It may be too long, too complicated to pronounce or there are many more reasons why we may end up with one a nickname. Sometimes we even end up with multiple nicknames, one for each peer group we are in. That just seems natural…

In the enterprise software world the whole process of naming a product is equally complex and challenging as there are many things to consider like branding strategy, marketing aspects and all sort of trademarks and copyrights. Usually, new products start their lifecycle with fancy ‘projects names’ – a common pattern for these would be the place where the idea for a particular project was born or set in stone. Anyone of you still remember Vienna?

SAP NetWeaver Cloud aka NEO

As some of you may know I’m working in the team for a product called ‘SAP NetWeaver Cloud’.

This particular product has gone by many (informal) names through its early-days and people may have heard it being called JPaaS, SAP NetWeaver OnDemand, SAP NetWeaver NEO (or just NEO in short) and we even referred to it as ‘Project River’ for a brief moment in time. That’s all past us now though… or isn’t it?

For some reasons the (nick-) name NEO seems to stick to people, especially in the developer community. Here are some thoughts on why that be the case:

  1. It’s a name (and not a description)
  2. It’s short – just three letters only
  3. It’s geeky and developers typically associate it with a character from a well-known movie
  4. It stands for ‘new’
  5. It may just be an acronym in the great tradition of names like GNU (my favorite interpretation would be: Next Evolution Of…)
  6. Developers love it!
  7. Developers love it!
  8. … oh, and did I state: developers love it?!?

Be it as it is… the official/formal/given name is SAP NetWeaver Cloud.

And that’s just fine! It reflects the fact that the platform is part of the broader NetWeaver family and it leaves no doubt about it’s domain: the cloud.

The only thing that worries me a bit (if you allow me to express my thoughts) is that it may lead people to the wrong conclusion that this platform is just the ‘old’ NetWeaver platform put in the cloud. Which is wrong! It’s an entirely different thing – it’s been rewritten and assembled from scratch to address it’s natural habitat: the cloud!

We usually describe it as “an open, standards-based and modular Platform as a Service for rapid development of on-demand applications” built on top of some of the most popular and common Open Source projects. It’s definitely new and exciting and personally I consider it as the prime example of the new SAP or SAP’s intelectual renewal as our CTO Vishal Sikka calls it. And who knows… next to our first lady HANA, NEO may just well be the Chosen One! 😉

Back to the original question

“So, may I still call you NEO?” (Of course, I’m asking for a friend of mine!!!)

Tricky question! And if you expected me to give you an official approval for using the nickname then I may disappoint you now. On the other hand, if you – like me and many others – were good buddies with NEO before he became MR. SAP NetWeaver Cloud  then I guess noone can stop you… 😉

I mean a lot of our board members and executives still refer to NEO in (in-)formal situations:

or a variety of recent tweets:

While Oracle seeks to delay cloud features in enterprise Java ( bit.ly/UuKJDN ) NEO rocks it.cloud+java & soon, cloud portal…

— Vishal Sikka (@vsikka) September 8, 2012

@steinermatt I thought you dreamt of being an @sapmentors and #SAP #NetWeaver Cloud aka #Neo evangelist…

— Björn Goerke (@_bgoerke) August 27, 2012

Interesting use case from myspotworld combining FB, Google, #SAPNetweaverCloud (Neo) and #SAP #HANA. #Startups saving the world (biz savvy)

— aiazkazi (@aiazkazi) August 15, 2012

At the end of the day, I guess it matters more that people talk about the platform at all rather than what people will call it by. Don’t you agree?

Note: This blog post only reflects my very own personal opinion on the matter and it must NOT be regarded an official SAP statement on SAP NetWeaver Cloud or SAP’s naming policies.

Update: In the meanwhile SAP NetWeaver Cloud has evolved into the broader SAP HANA Cloud (Platform).

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8 Comments

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  1. Tammy Powlas

    Ahhh Matthias Steiner I’ve seen pictures of Lotta and she is beautiful 🙂

    I like Tom’s interpretation

    And with a formal name like “Tamara”, I like nicknames…only time I was called “Tamara” was by my mom, when I was in trouble (not good).

    Nothing at all wrong with nicknames overall.  Plus think of twitter – easier to fit NEO in than SAP NetWeaver Cloud

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  2. Harald Mueller

    I can only refer to German Wikipedia which has a very good description what Neo is, all fits perfectly.

    Neo (von altgriechisch νέος néos ‚neu‘, ‚frisch‘, ‚jung‘, aber auch ‚ungewöhnlich‘, ‚revolutionär‘)

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  3. Christian Happel

    You make a good point: by calling it Netweaver people might think it is not really new.

    I heard similar complaints already for the Netweaver Cloud Integration solution.

    But Tammy mentions another good point: do companies now already think about a potential hashtag when defining a new product name?

    I’m following another hashtag discussion internally at the moment and I believe “sap” shouldn’t be part of any hashtag. Product names or hashtags have to be unique. So how about #neocloud? 😉

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    1. Krasimir Semerdzhiev

      One implicit benefit from having #sap in the root of the hash-tags (like #sapnwcloud) is that when searching for #sap you also find all related products as well.

      It might be harder to navigate in there though.

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      1. Christian Happel

        I’m not saying you should add a second hashtag “#SAP” but just leave out the SAP completely. I don’t think anyone else than people familiar with the topic will use a #NWcloud hashtag 😉

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  4. Krasimir Semerdzhiev

    Great and very entertaining summary of the platform naming evolution!

    For the sake of completeness and search indexing – I wanted to add few more (early) names like NGP (Next Generation Platform), NGJP (the same as before, but emphasizing on the support of Java language). I think this pretty much completes the picture.  😉

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