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Dirk Boessmann, Senior Vice President for Mobile Development of SAP, spoke at the North Carolina PowerBuilder User Group Meeting on May 8th, 2015 in a talk entitled “Moving Forward with SAP PowerBuilder”.  He was already in the US for the Sapphire Conference (May 5th to 7th) and actually had to miss the special event at that conference (a JLo concert) in order to make the user group meeting.

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Mr. Boessmann indicated that he became responsible for PowerBuilder in the beginning of 2014.  Since his entire background was in mobility he didn’t want to lecture us on what PowerBuilder needs.  He needed a discovery phase as he thought PowerBuilder was in maintenance mode.  He thought something was wrong but didn’t know the product and so didn’t know what.

When he did his discovery he found that SAP had tried internally to do a lot with PowerBuilder, but the things that had been attempted were inappropriate.   He found that the installed base was so large that it doesn’t make sense to do a disruptive change.  He talked to Vishal Sikka and Micheal Reh (both now at Infosys) about what happened.  He concluded that PowerBuilder is a solid technology and meets SAP’s current emphasis on ‘run simple’.

He looked into the PowerBuilder eco-system to determine how attached people are to the product.  He found that we had a good ecosystem.  He looked into the customer base.  Customers reached out to him to let him know that they have invested heavily in it, had mission critical applications running on it and that the future of their companies were dependent on it.

He then went into a scratch your head phase to find a solution.  They needed a solution that would survive in a company like SAP that reorganizes and changes focus.  The plan required a dedicated and focused team within SAP.  It also needs a partner who has PowerBuilder at its core.  Then you talk to a lot of lawyers.

Yesterday (May 7th, 2015) the SAP board signed a memorandum of understanding with Appeon to allow Appeon to access the PowerBuilder source code and sell the product.  However, SAP will remain involved.  It will be Appeon and SAP in partnership.  The engineering groups have already started information transfer.

At that point, Mr. Boessmann invited Armeen Mazda of Appeon to join him at the podium.  Armeen noted that Sybase fumbled with its attempt to modernize it.  Appeon has a large staff of engineers available to work on the product and effectively modernize it.

There was then a Q&A session:

Q:  Who will retain IP and how long will the transfer take?

A:  It’s an outbound OEM contract.  SAP retains IP, but Appeon is in control and in charge of development and distribution.

Q:  How long will it take?  We are waiting for something new.  We’ve been waiting 5 years.

A:  They are working in parallel: engineering work going on even while contracts are being finalized.  Contracts will take an additional few months.

Q:  Want to make sure that SAP stands behind the product.  In particular, putting it on the SAP price list.

A:  Indicates that we really don’t want it on the price list because it actually hampers what Appeon can do, and would take an additional year to get the necessary clearance.

Q:  What about EAServer?

A:  They are looking to extended engineering support to 2017 and providing a migration path to something else.

Q:  What about marketing?

A:  SAP really doesn’t market products; it only markets brand or value.  SAP will be in contact with customers to reassure them that they are behind the product.  Armeen suggested that we’re the best marketing for the product.  The best marketing is an enthused user base.  They need to focus on getting customers excited about new features in the product and then we’ll carry the message.

Q:  What about support?

A:  Still working on details, but preference would be to have Appeon handle support calls.

Q:  Wondering if Appeon and PowerBuilder would be bundled.

A:  Armeen indicated that they haven’t decided quite how to handle it.

Q:  Want to make sure that new features are added into PowerBuilder itself and not require Appeon add-on.

A:  Armeen agreed that there would be a roadmap for PowerBuilder itself and the new features would be in just PowerBuilder.

Q:  Will it be called SAP PowerBuilder or Appeon PowerBuilder?

A:  Not sure yet.

Q:  Asked about capital investment.

A:  SAP will not be funding Appeon.  Appeon has a large parent company and a large customer base that can fund the product.

Comment:  Indicated that having SAP in the name is important for marketing to large companies.

Comment:  Want to make sure that PowerBuilder continues to provide a Windows desktop deployment option.

Comment:  Suggested that maintenance fees paid over the last 5 years be given to Appeon for developing that version.

Comment:  One of the issues that companies face is a lack of PowerBuilder developers.

Q:  Did SAP consider open sourcing PowerBuilder?

A:  SAP looked at it and didn’t believe that it would be successful in the long run.

Q:  What might be in the next version of PowerBuilder?

A:  SAP indicated that Appeon is in the driver’s seat.  SAP only consults.  That’s why you don’t want PowerBuilder on SAP price list and may not want name to be “SAP PowerBuilder”, because that restricts the ability to discuss roadmaps.  If it isn’t, Appeon can talk more openly about what they are planning to do with the product.

Q:  Who controls pricing?

A:  Not decided yet, but it could be Appeon.

Q:  What about PowerBuilder.Net?

A:  Armeen indicated that he was not convinced it has a large amount of adoption.  Want customers to indicate who needs it.  .Net has to be addressed, but it might not be through the PowerBuilder.Net IDE.

Q:  What about SQL Anywhere?

A:  SQL Anywhere is an official SAP product and they have big plans for it.

Q:  What about a PowerBuilder book?

A:  Not sure there is really a market for books anymore, more focused on blogs and online videos.

Q:  What about the PowerBuilder Developer Center in SCN?

A:  It will stay in place.

Q:  Question about whether Appeon is big enough and financially stable enough to handle it.

A: Appeon currently has 100 people.  Downsized from 200+ in 2007, and has been cash flow positive since the downsizing.

Q:  What about support plan payments?

A:  Not finalized yet.

Q:  Will Appeon and SAP be doing revenue sharing?

A:   Not finalized yet.

Armeen asked people to go to www.appeon.com/future to indicate what they want to see in future versions of PowerBuilder.

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48 Comments

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    1. John Vanleeuwe

      Thanks to each & every one of you that made this possible !!!! I can hear the sighs of relief … 🙂

      In my humble opinion the best choice SAP could make !

      Grts John

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    1. Kyle Griffis

      Armeen,

      Question #5 on the “Vote for Your Most Wanted Features” web form, forces us to make a selection which will skew results.  I mentioned in the comments that I had to make the selection but did not use the products listed under the question.

      It was a great pleasure to have met the team in Charlotte and I look forward to seeing PowerBuilder being strong once again!

      All the best to the future Appeon!

      Kyle

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        1. Brad Mettee

          Option 4 should have an additional option:

          Stay with Client/Server – full-featured client app, automatic updates, and DB in a LAN/intranet

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  1. Oscar Uriel Tobar Rios

    Thanks Bruce for the good news, and thanks to Armeen and all the team Appeon to help thousands of people who live in powerbuilder.

    For my part the powerbuilder portal revived ( http://www.powerbuilder.org ), and we want to continue helping and disseminating more information about Appeon and PB. Count on us!

    For anyone interested please contact me if you consider that from the portal can help show videos and code to the community.

    Thanks Armeen. good luck! “In your hands are our dreams”

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  2. Yakov Werde

    Bruce thanks for transcribing the presentation and posting your minutes for public access

    Congratulations Armeen for persisting and seeing this transaction through to what we look forward to as a best case logical conclusion.

    Congratulations to each and every member of the PowerBuilder community who, like me, breathed a sigh of relieve today upon hear this news

    We look forward to witnessing the ‘cat with 9 lives’ come roaring back yet again

    Yakov

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  3. FRANCO CASTILLO

    Thanks Bruce.   For now it is good news, however, PB must be directed not only to a RAD tool,  but a Web development tool and Mobile.  Holding competition with other tools is very hard, and has lost by little, precisely because the filed of Bataille, is the Web and mobile.

    Regards, Franco.

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  4. Dan Cooperstock

    This was great news to hear today! One small correction to the original post above (which I suspect was just a typo): I’m quite sure Armeen told us that they currently have about 100 staff, not 200.

    (0) 
    1. Bruce Armstrong Post author

      I’m quite sure Armeen told us that they currently have about 100 staff, not 200.

      Yes, one of a number of typos.  I typed it up quickly and submitted it from my iPad mini, which isn’t the ideal device for editing long documents.  I’ve cleaned it up now.  Let me know if you see other mistakes.

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  5. Brett Weaver

    The best news we could hope for!

    I know it will take another few months before the product is ready to sell through the Appeon agents. Lets hope the SAP lawyers don’t kill it by slow action.

    After that, it will be brilliant to put applications out there on a current and supported platform!

    I see a big future for applications talking back to SAP/IQ Edge databases as it allows such a flexible schema and brilliant performance.

    Keep us up to date with progress, Armeen.

    in the mean-time I will dust off the copy of Appeon I bought last year and start paying you some maintenance! 🙂

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  6. Ganesh S

    Great news!! It’s time to see how Appeon/Powerbuilder competes head-on with the plethora of IDEs in the market for web, desktop, mobile and PAAS development. Also, how to win back the support from customers that are steadily moving away from PB to other tools.

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  7. Andreas Mykonios

    Hi Bruce. I would like to know, the following comments:

    Comment:  Indicated that having SAP in the name is important for marketing to large companies.

    Comment:  Want to make sure that PowerBuilder continues to provide a Windows desktop deploy.

    Comment:  Suggested that maintenance fees paid over the last 5 years be given to Appeon for developing that versions.

    Comment:  One of the issues that companies face is a lack of PowerBuilder developers.


    They’ve been made by people in the audience?

    Andreas.

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    1. Bruce Armstrong Post author

      I was just recording what people were saying in the question and answer session.  .Those were comments people made during that time rather than asking a question.

      (0) 
  8. Sam Varadarajan

    Thanks, Bruce! That’s such a great news for PB community. Congratulations to everyone that pushed for this and Congratulations to Armeen and Appeon in achieving this. And thanks SAP for making such a sensible decision.

    Here at the city of LA, they were sending out RFI to migrate their application out of PB. I can tell them to hold off a bit. I hope to hear about a road map for PB future soon. And I hope there is a mention about EAServer in it too!

    Look forward to better support and better future for PB developers. Go Appeon!

    Sam

    (0) 
      1. Armeen Mazda

        Why don’t you deploy your PowerBuilder NVOs as .NET assemblies to IIS or .NET Web services (if you need to integrate with Java apps)?

        (0) 
  9. Amit Singh

    Thanks Bruce for the information and my heartiest congratulations to Armeen and all PB developers.

    A ray of hope for all of us!!

    Best of Luck Appeon!

    (0) 
  10. Luca Ferrante

    Thank you Bruce accurate and timely as ever !

    Appeon hurricane is coming and PB community is on your side !

    Congratulations Armeen and congratulations Appeon Team !

    Luca Ferrante

    (0) 
  11. Roland Smith

    I have done a little Android development using a product called B4A (Basic4Android) that is a VB6 clone that deploys native Android apps. It cost me < $100 for the program and 2 years of updates. They also have B4i to develop native iOS apps and B4J that creates Java apps that run on Windows, Mac, or Linux. B4J is free.

    These three tools were developed by one person!

    With the development staff of Appeon, I hope that we will soon have the same ability from the PowerBuilder Classic IDE. Developing apps for Windows, Windows Phone, Android, iOS, Mac, and Linux from the same IDE would be huge!

    (0) 
  12. JAIMOHAN T

    Thanks Bruce for the fantastic news, and congrats to Armeen and Appeon team.

    At long last we are getting somewhere. As you are aware, SAP does not sell PB through partners at present. Hence, please make it a point to re-open the marketing channel for the existing versions as fast as possible.

    Thanks Armeen and good luck! We all stand by you to support PB.

    (0) 
        1. David Peace

          Thanks Armeen,

          I pointed a customer to them yesterday because SAP refused to sell to them.

          I’ll be glad when you have sorted the legal side out and we can discuss distribution options 🙂

          (0) 
  13. Kari Paukku

    Good news! At the same time, what would be good is to have some roadmap with some timepoints, so that we would know what to expect and when. Knowing that there is a survey asking of features, Novalys themselves should have an idea what they want and can accomplish and in what timeframe.

    A new version still this year, even if just as a beta,  would give the user community a strong, positive signal. In the end, actions, actions – that’s what we need!

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    1. Armeen Mazda

      Appeon can discuss roadmaps and start working on developing new features for PB only after the transfer of PB to Appeon has been completed.  It appears Dirk genuinely cares about the PB customer base so its reasonable to expect he will push this forward as fast as possible.

      Appeon is only focused on PB so it is also reasonable to expect different mode of operation that is better suited for tools.  With that said, Appeon understands that a new version of PB with meaningful features needs to go out ASAP.  We also understand the trend in the market of offering more frequent releases for constant innovation.

      Appeon will work hard and keep the goal in mind of making PB a fantastic tool you can rely on for years to come!

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      1. Andreas Mykonios

        Armeen… It’s very important to hear your (-> Appeon’s) point of view. Hope everything works on well for both PB and Appeon.

        I have many questions about the impact of this transition, but have no time right now to ask. But I will post some questions hopefully this weekend…

        Andreas.

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        1. Armeen Mazda

          It’s difficult for me to share Appeon’s “view” on directions for PB at a time when we haven’t put together the roadmap.  Putting together a roadmap is not a wishlist – it is something we can realistically stick by.  We don’t want to set expectations too high or too low for obvious reasons.


          We appreciate that people are anxious and we will do our best to communicate as soon as we can. In the meantime, each of you can do your part by giving us your feedback here: http://www.appeon.com/future

          The viewpoint I will share with you right now is that PB needs to be modernized, and anybody that truly knows our company knows we are the best guys for the job! 

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      2. David Peace

        Armeen said: “Appeon can discuss roadmaps and start working on developing new features for PB only after the transfer of PB to Appeon has been completed.  It appears Dirk genuinely cares about the PB customer base so its reasonable to expect he will push this forward as fast as possible.”

        Everyone must expect this to take time, SAP pushing something forward will be in their own unique way….. which is slowly. We have to trust Armeen & Appeon to make this happen and support them during this phase. Realistically we cannot expect much this year.

        Armeen & Appeon have my total support and I will be patient because I trust that they will deliver on the promise…. when they can make one 🙂

        Cheers

        David

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  14. FRANCO CASTILLO

    The exodus beginning four years ago and today has greater intesity.  Power Builder should become a RAD tool, *** BUT *** WEB, has everything to do.

    Regards,

    (0) 
    1. Da Sternberg

      PB has always been a RAD tool. Yes, the WEB is everything these days and everything needs to be able to be accessed from your phone and the moon.  Unfortunately, there are many business functions that need to be secure, very robust in a timely fashion, and
      done within the company infrastructure. Not that I have experience, but Appeon sounds like they have many not FAT solutions.

      I on the other hand can do so much with PB running as a FATclient that any other resource expenditure is a waste.  Four years later and I don’t think one PB
      application has been replaced by anything. Well, maybe some people are downloading Sybase and Oracle databases to MS-Access.  Like one job I turned down
      because it broke my heart … the person thought the PB migration from one
      version to another was too complicated (apparently the PB staff where let go with
      no management planning or vision)…so they/one person loaded up an MS-Access database from Oracle and killed the PB application … what did the job entail now … working on MS-Access migration issues from one version to another ;<0)

      (0) 

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