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Sometime shortly after SAP TechEd & d-Code Berlin, my manager asked if I would be posting a year end blog. It seemed like a good idea when he asked and one that had in fact already occurred to me to do. It is of course now December 31st meaning I have less than a day to compose, edit and publish such a post. Covering the topic is pretty straightforward but doing the bloggy thing of including pictures and links is what takes time and only encourages procrastination. Nonetheless, I’m going for it as there is no question of it being a good thing to have a look back through one’s rearview mirror and reflect a bit on the days and activities past. 

At this time of the year we assess where we are by examining where we’ve been and what we’ve done.  We then try and determine if it all lines up to our KPIs assigned at the beginning of the year. I want to focus more upon what I view as key yield from the efforts within the context of co-innovation. Since blogs and whitepapers past can fully account for much of the what, how and why of each COIL project, the intent of this short year-end summary is simply to refresh our view of the breadth of topics we explored and to offer a few call outs and shout outs relating to who and what drove our project work and the subsequent results. It’s also worth commenting upon what best describes COIL efforts (and its continuing aspirations) to measure the effects of its knowledge brokering between and among project teams, SAP and ecosystem business manager and subject matter experts.


In most instances approved projects do not always come into our lab with all of the right domain experts in tow to fulfill all of the skills necessary to affect a successful project. COIL technical project development includes a fair amount of knowledge brokering to fill such gaps and for getting the right people on to the right project at the right time. Through developing so many diverse co-innovation lab projects, we’ve come to understand what of efforts and behavior must be encouraged and nurtured to drive project success and it is through COIL knowledge brokering where we discover what contributes most to successful project outcomes.


It is a combination of continuously working both formal and informal networks within SAP as well as across different ecosystem partner channels that we are able to help teams to become complete in gaining access to the skills and talent that underscores successful co-innovation. We know this knowledge brokering to be exceptionally valuable and it remains an ongoing effort to learn more precisely how to both quantitatively and qualitatively measure its value. As we enter into 2015 we will be taking extra effort identify the different knowledge brokering channels invoked at the start and during project work and the degree of frequency these channels are used to secure knowledge and resources.


The Projects and the Work

There were roughly 45-50 projects proposed to COIL PAL in 2014. (“Proposed” means that a COIL Project Request Form was completed and submitted for consideration). This number is even higher if were to include in the count all of the many initial and informal discussions occurring well before a PRF gets submitted to COIL.  From the total number of PRF-based proposals, 32 projects closed in COIL PAL this year. Globally, (I’ve yet to see the final report) COIL is tracking towards something north of 150+ projects completed across all of its ten locations. As we look at the yield from COIL Labs in North America, Central Europe, South America, Russia and Asia Pacific, we find successfully completed projects representing all of SAP’s favorite topics of Cloud, Analytics and Mobility.

Multiple projects at COIL PAL pursued by both lab sponsors and project members have spawned ongoing project work spanning Big Data, real time analytics featuring SAP HANA with Hadoop, SAP HANA with Customer Activity Repository (CARs), SAP HANA and IoT, SAS on SAP HANA, cloud security, application and network optimization and prediction, geospatial and graph engine, not to mention the important topic of SAP HANA HA/DR. It’s also worth mentioning that COIL PAL also played host to a variety of partner and partner customer events like SAP Fiori and Lumira workshops and the SAP HANA Operations Summit which took place just before the holiday break.

Project Highlights


Some of the project highlights that are still top of mind for me and stand as call outs for interesting and compelling project work in which each garnered a lot of attention from the start, then throughout the project as well as for the final results:

To begin somewhat chronologically, it was around this time last year that Intel introduced Vormetric to COIL.  Intel was already partnering with Vormetric and viewed working with them at COIL as a good opportunity to not only assess the degree of overhead that might stem from encryption of log file data for SAP HANA but to also characterize performance between Westmere and Ivy Bridge processors where positive results would be of value to the launch of Intel’s latest chip-set. In the beginning, there were lots of inquiries and interest into how the proposed project aligned with SAP HANA and its already well-established security architecture. Others took interest to more fully understand the target cloud-based use cases and the tests performed. I appreciated the strong support and interest expressed from a variety of operations and product management teams and how they find coil project of value.


The positive results from this project were shared through COIL and Intel whitepapers and became of real interest to cloud customers in banking, predicated upon use cases sourced from Virtustream. There was also early internal interest among security and cloud architects across HEC, SuccessFactors and Ariba teams to learn more about the results and what other potential follow on project work might be of interest.


One of my favorite aspects of COIL is to see such spillover effects derived from a single co-innovation project. It was rewarding to see so many new connections being made among all of the participants across SAP and within its ecosystem. Connections that may never had occurred without the initial work done at COIL.  This was important project work contributing to a richer understanding for what comprehensively drives secure cloud solutions. It is compelling to observe how such ongoing ecosystems-based innovation project work accelerates innovation and in turn helps meet and exceed customer expectations.

Another COIL PAL highlight was to finally become fully equipped to enable a series of SAP HANA HA DR workshops with the Hana Technical Academy team. This one took considerable time to get off the ground if for no other reason than the need to ensure that a million plus dollars’ worth of hardware and software to support a specific topic is time and money well spent.  With the business case finally realized, this project has now come to represent some exceptional collaboration with EMC and Cisco with a number of customers validating that SAP HANA clearly stands up to expected HA DR rigors.

Customers attending these 1 to 3 day workshops, can easily be shown an enterprise class representation of 3 Hana node clusters representing two physical locations and dive right in to the workshop content to obtain the proof points needed as opposed to the uglier alternative of trying to conger the time, effort and expense for all sides to do the same as a discrete on-premise POC. As an additional observation there was clearly a lot of value derived from SAP and partners in terms of the overall tacit knowledge exchange and collaborative spirit contributing to a quality workshop experience for the customers in attendance. I’m looking forward to seeing more workshops beginning early in Q1.

Another good call out for the year is for the ongoing project work pursued by CA & Cisco to explore application and network optimization and using different data feeds from each of these layers in the stack to drive predictive analytics on SAP HANA meant to predict downtime and increase up-time.

This ongoing project work continues to establish this end to end solution and I was thrilled to finally get the chance to deep dive on the topic in preparation to interview project participants from both firms on a segment of SAP TechEd & D-code Live. I’m impressed not only with what is a comprehensive solution predicated upon the use of real time analytics on Hana, but also at the depth of knowledge exchange, collaboration and the deeper trust relationships that form up between the participants when worthwhile project work is pursued and continues to evolve and become further refined with each completed phase.


It was also quite impressive to see Clark, Wes, Maik, Keith Renu, Yemun and team do some serious work early in the year with DSSD and demonstrate viable scale up SAP HANA cloud architecture. SAP working with Intel and DSSD, worked to develop the next generation of HANA Cells for the SAP cloud. The work done leads the way to large scale in-memory computing.  It was always an enjoyable experience to witness the profound and geeky moment the first time anyone saw the thin, sexy, techie flash drives in the DSSD chassis.


We saw even more flash based storage project work with Violin Memory and its 6200 array systems who subsequently laid claim to SAP HANA product certification via ICC as part of their COIL project efforts to validate significant performance improvements in cache swapping, writing logs, delta changes and backups.


I must absolutely call out the fine project work led by former COIL teammate and now SAP Alliance Manager for Citrix Systems (Roland Wartenberg) to explore SAP Visual Enterprise 3D with Citrix Systems and Nvidia. I’ve co-presented this project with Roland a few times this year (COIL, Citrix Synergy and SAP TechEd & D-code) and am excited to see the work progress to new ideas like surrounding the creation of 3D catalogs to augment purchasing and supply chain systems. As a former COIL guy, I always enjoy working with Roland as his projects can be expected to include a cool factor.


COIL has seen a small number of projects in the recent past focused on healthcare and we would love to see more such projects enabled by our lab as the projects and the various use cases are always interesting.  If you’ve never seen the now fabled Medicare Mapper App for the IPad from Critigen, then you should stop reading (bookmark me!) and go take a closer look. It runs on SAP HANA here in the COIL and Critigen continues to drive new project work featuring SAP HANA and geospatial with ESRI which we look forward to seeing more of in the New Year.


Adjacent to this project work on the same topic of geospatial, we saw some amazing project work coming from our SAP NS2 colleagues who also did some amazing jaw dropping demos. Matt Zenus tells me 2015 “will be the year of geospatial” and from what I’ve witnessed so far from just from this lab, I believe him. SAP NS2 will now be leading new project work featuring a brand spanking new 16 way 12TB scale up UV 300 HANA Server from SGI– our newest COIL project member. When I look at this rack now spun up here in COIL PAL I just know 2015 is going to be nothing short of amazing with respect to co-innovation in the SAP ecosystem. 


The final call out for the year goes to the RedHat OpenShift project work done here in the lab. Christine Puccio and Sherry Yu, both long time COIL practitioners have both worked tirelessly to drive an ongoing effort and engagement to tap into developer communities through OpenShift with the RedHat OpenShift cartridge for Sybase ASE, IQ, SQL Anywhere and SAP HANA to provide a P-a-a-S environment for customers to build applications on a Sybase database platform featuring on demand access.


There were so many cool projects in 2014. I’ve likely failed to rightly mention some of them here but our hats are off to everyone that graced our presence in the lab this year. We especially wish to acknowledge the generous contributions and participation from our longtime and esteemed sponsors, Intel, NetApp, Cisco and vmware who all equally play a role in the vibrancy of COIL and the important projects pursued with SAP across the COIL global network.


Events of interest-

In between all of the hours, days and weeks of hands on, heads down project work, there were plenty of events where COIL either hosted or participated. We had Co-Innovation in Action Sessions in COIL PAL; we had presence with GPO at its Partner Discovery Center at Sapphire Now, its InfoZones at SAP TechEd & D-Code plus a very good turn-out for our half day Geospatial Workshop with SAP NS2. The Mfg Conference in Hanover Germany for Industry 4.0 featuring a COIL Integrated Factory demo, the GeoInt Symposium in Tampa, and Citrix Synergy in Pasadena.


The most notable event perhaps was Fujitsu joining COIL as its newest sponsor! A warm welcome to the Fujitsu team and we all look forward to the future projects you will propose and enable in 2015. 


COIL Organization-

A few changes popped up organizationally this year that are also worth mentioning. Prior to the departure of Vishal and for a number of weeks following, COIL fell under Abdul Razack and SAP Custom Development. With Abdul’s departure this fall, followed by our exec lead Chris Turner taking up a new role within GCO, COIL and the Hana Partner Engineering team were reorganized within Tanja Rueckert’s Products and Innovation Services team.


Our long time and beloved leader for nearly all of COIL’s nearly 7 years of existence, Dr. Axel Saleck returned from a summer sabbatical only to pass his COIL baton on to Rudi Held. Axel has left an indelible mark upon the entire COIL team and SAP. With great significance, he helped to establish the fact that SAP is an undisputed thought leader on the topic of global co-innovation and built the COIL global network that stands today.  While it won’t be the same without this man wearing his signature cap at our helm, it’s a very lucky and fortunate team who ends up being led by Axel- good things will surely happen.

With Rudi as our new lead, the COIL team now joins our ICC and PQ teams under Nandagopal Prasad where we will all collectively work to grow the SAP ecosystem and drive its unbridled vibrancy.


External perspectives on ecosystem-based innovation-

To further expand upon what it means to help grow the SAP Ecosystem and to co-innovate with partners, some recent research I’ve been doing (in all of my spare time!) with Dr. Tammy Madsen, Santa Clara University indicates that what we do at COIL is rather unique with respect to a firm establishing what are known as ecosystem dynamic capabilities. Through our recent study of COIL Project Data since 2007, we explored the value both SAP and COIL partner participants (sponsors and project members) derive from having access to both supply and demand side SAP resources. We were delighted with being given the opportunity to present this work at the first annual Worldwide Open Innovation Conference held earlier this month in Napa, CA.

Our findings and observations garnered a great deal of interest and for us points to a clearer external view of just how valuable co-innovation is and is becoming; particularly with respect that so many solutions well up from recombinant innovation. I intend to keep exploring this further as we work to publish our work and delve into other dimensions such as the valuation of knowledge brokering. Sir Isaac Newton’s friend was certainly on to something when he wrote to him in a personal letter about the importance of “standing on the shoulders of giants” as the way in which new ideas are carried forward. We witness it over and over again with each each project team using resources and rearranging them in ways to make them more valuable. This is the bigger and more complex piece of the innovation engine.


Gearing up for 2015-

Of course I cannot wrap up this summary without mentioning the Internet of Things. There was project work done on the topic in COIL PAL with long time project member OSIsoft as well as with many relevant Industry 4.0 projects which our COIL colleagues in other locations enabled. There will be a major emphasis on IoT in 2015 and building off of an already formed stream of proposals, ideas and opportunities regularly brought to our attention for some time now,


Here in COIL PAL we will pilot a co-Innovation Kickstarter IoT program where we have the first 2 projects already in development (more on this in January).  We are also excited to see the COIL PAL lab emerge at the beginning of the new year with a fresh new look and feel- designed to support the most optimal ways to engage with partners whether it is the consistent application of design thinking principles to Co-Innovation project work or to tell the story of co-innovation solutions designed to address must have experiences for customers.

So let’s drop the ball in Times Square and get on with it shall we? Co-Innovation Happens Here!



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  1. Kevin Liu

    Good summary, David.

    Really like your photo in the rear-view mirror. Nice look, especially with the COIL logo in the backdrop.

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