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Average temperature in Houston was 97 F this week! Inside the George R. Brown Convention Center it was chilling. But the extreme weather condition seems didn’t bother people standing in the long long line determined for the deeply discounted Microsoft Surface (It was 3 hours wait for the first 2 days of the conference!). The tablet was selling $99 with the touch cover compared to the $699 price tag in the market.This is truly a global event with many of the Microsoft partners around the world attending the conference. Staying behind me was a guy from Kyrgyzstan whose business is to convert illegal licenses to legal license sales for Microsoft.The tall guy in front of me was from Dubai doing MS implementation. That gives you a sense how diverse this group here in Houston this week.

It was a great kick-off for Microsoft for their new fiscal year 2014. In the following I would like to summarize my impression and take the chance to relate Microsoft’s strategy to our SAP strategy. To make it short, here are three bullet points.

  • A Devices and Services Company
  • One Microsoft, One experience
  • Four Megatrends – Cloud, Big Data, Social, and Mobility

A Devices and Services Company

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To Microsoft, the coming 2014 is a major year for transformation from a Software to a Devices and Services company. You might ask, where is the software then. Hmm, that is my question too. The answer is Software is now embedded into different devices and services Microsoft offers, whether these are apps on the Surface/Windows Phone or solutions on the Office 365 cloud services. This means Microsoft is more and more relying on their partners to develop applications on top of many devices and services. With that said, SAP NetWeaver Gateway and Duet Enterprise are in a good position from our partner ecosystem point of view. We are the cutting-edge SAP technology that empower the rich SAP data and business processes into many Windows 8 devices – Surface and Windows Phone or the cloud service offerings in Office 365 – Outlook, Excel, and SharePoint. This truly represents a tremendous opportunity for many of our mutual SAP and Microsoft business partners.

You could learn more about SAP NetWeaver Gateway from our 2013 Partner-built Solution Campaign.

One Microsoft, One experience

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Throughout the conference, there was one word always hanging around my ear. And that is “One”. One Microsoft, One Experience and Xbox One.

You see the picture above from Steve Ballmer’s vision keynote. Everything is under one bracket. As a product manager from a software company, I feel the same significance of the One, especially the One experience.

First of all, for the many devices people have, smart phones, tablets, and laptops, it is always crucial to ensure the consistent one user experience across, so that users don’t need to change their behavior and habit from one device to another. This has been demonstrated very well the user experience when switching from Surface to Windows Phone. Don’t you feel the funny experience when changing from a Surface to a IPad, in the first second you keep swiping your finger from the right edge of the screen to bring up the menu, and finally realize it is not there?

That is the one key factor a company like Microsoft could lock in their end users – by providing the same Windows user experience across different devices, and even more, across different services as on-premise Office 2013 and cloud services in Office 365. That is how Microsoft is trying to differentiate themselves from the other vendors who only have cloud solutions. The bet is that not only consumer users, but enterprise users would look for hybrid solutions both on-premise and on-cloud. People will keep both Office on-premise in their laptop and at the meantime using Office services on-line. Company will subscribe to Azure public cloud and at the meantime run their business sensitive data in the private cloud powered by Windows Server. It is just as in the year of 2000 people used to say that local stores would disappear with the emerging of internet stores. But today while we are shopping at Amazon, we still love to go to Macy’s to hand-pick our favorite clothing.

So making the one experience across the hybrid environments is exactly how Microsoft could differentiate themselves from the other cloud-only vendors. It became very noticeable when Microsoft announced Azure Pack in WPC. The solution will allow customers to create a private cloud with Windows server in-house with the same experience of Azure Public Cloud. That secret sauce has now been moved into the virtual platform as well.

This is equally important to SAP customers, whether for a business user, a developer, or an IT administrator, keeping the One experience across different environments is the key to make end user’s life easy and free them from changing their habits and behaviors consistently.

Four Megatrends – Cloud, Big Data, Social, and Mobility

Now the last one I want to write about here are the four IT Megatrends Microsoft revealed in WPC – Cloud, Social, Mobility, and Big Data.

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Sounds familiar, it is no surprise to me. As we SAP are conquering the five markets – applications, analytics, mobile, database & technology (Hana Big Data), and cloud. I see a lot of partner opportunities here. SAP NetWeaver Gateway and Duet Enterprise are already the glue to make this partnership available and the engine to grow SAP and Microsoft’s mutual partner ecosystem. SAP NetWeaver Gateway is bringing SAP data to Windows 8 devices such as Surface and Windows Phone. Duet Enterprise is now the only SAP-Microsoft joint solution to bridge the gap between SAP and Office365 together with SharePoint on-line (Microsoft’s social platform integrated with Yammer). As Microsoft just announced Power BI with data analysis with Excel and SharePoint utilizing big on-line data and ERP data, I sense an opportunity for our partners. SAP NetWeaver Gateway is opening up SAP business suite and Hana big data sources to the outside consumption. So why not fuel these data to the Power BI as well?

Enough talking, now it is my fun part, after the long waiting line and skipping my lunch, I finally got my Surface RT. It is a great device. I am really impressed on the built and the dynamic feel of Windows 8. Now it is time for me to put my SAP mobile apps into the device and show off the amazing SAP business apps running on Windows 8.

Goodbye Houston, and let’s test the new high to the zone that we have never experienced!

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  1. Kevin Daly

    Great recap Ed.  I agree with your assessment and path of Microsoft and after using the Surface Pro – I can’t believe it does not get more traction or positive press. Is it Marketing? Or is it my wife quit on it after a few minutes as we also have the iPAD.   Regardless – you make a great astronaut!

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