I’m breaking out all the clichés today: Looking into my crystal ball, scanning the horizon, and reading the tea leaves for what no doubt are awesome New Year’s predictions. I am 100% confident the following 10 items will come true in 2013:
10. SAP will help the United States avert its fiscal cliff by installing HANA on the U.S. budget database, which will result in taxes being taken out of employee paychecks 10,000 times faster.
9. Larry Ellison at Oracle will go on the Twitter offensive and double his tweets per year to two.
8. SAP officials will adopt Bush-era policies and begin waterboarding critical bloggers in a basement in Palo Alto.
7. As a nod to its social media ambassador Timo Elliott, SAP will debut a new BW transaction code, TIMO, that lets a user immediately Tweet a chart.
6. Based on the retro rock acts that graced the concert stages at industry shows in 2012, Spinal Tap will sign on for Sapphire Now in May.
5. Continuing its march into the sports world, SAP will buy the Boston Red Sox and immediately announce Lars Dalgaard as general manager of the sleepy team.
4. SAP will help rappers run Gangnam-ier.
3. SAP will debut NetWeaver TV, which will operate better than Apple TV, be more reliable that Netflix streaming, but will require an SI to implement the remote control code.
2. A sick, twisted hacker will break into the code of an upcoming BusinessObjects service pack and reinstall DeskI for all legacy customers.
1. In the aftermath of this year’s Sapphire guest keynote, SAP will drug-test all future celebrity keynote candidates.
I was happy just reading SAP Solution Management Director Ingo Hilgefort’s key concept to his new article, in which he gives a short, understandable answer about the difference between BusinessObjects BI 4.0’s SP04 and FP03:
Service Pack 04 (SP04) includes the functionality of Feature Pack 03 (FP03) so that you do not have to apply FP03 first and then apply SP04 to your landscape.
Ahh, sometimes simple explanations go a long way in our technically heavy articles here on SAPexperts.
For example, he details the following enhancements for BusinessObjects Dashboards (formerly Xcelsius):
Key figures from BEx queries with a configured scaling factor
Level-based selection for hierarchical reports
SAP ERP data sources via a universe
Report-Report Interface as a valid sender
Support for OLAP connections from BusinessObjects Enterprise
By the way, Hilgefort has more about SP04 in another upcoming article for us, and he will also speak on the topic at the brand new SAPexperts Theater during the Reporting & Analytics 2012 conference in Las Vegas in October (he’s on schedule for October 29 at 10:45 a.m.).
Donald MacCormick of Antivia said one of the best BI query tools he’s seen was on the old Star Trek: The Next Generation TV show. Officers would tap their chest emblem, ask the Enterprise’s computer a question, and get the right answer. No hype; the system was simply effective, albeit fictitious.
But here in star date 2012, things don’t work quite so well, and there’s a level of hype that masks what’s going on with BI. The cheerleading about SAP HANA is a good example of a type of hype in which people believe there is magic going on behind the scenes to explain why something works, said MacCormick, who spoke at the ASUG SAP BusinessObjects User Conference.
All of us – you, me, the company selling the software, the analyst blogging about a trend – share responsibility when BI hype boils over, said MacCormick, chief product and marketing officer at Antivia.
“It’s very easy to blame the vendors because they have the source of marketing hype,” he said. “But all too often, people are ready to consume the hype.”
From his perspective, HANA is easy to understand. “HAHA is a very, very fast database. It is revolutionary,” he said. “But it’s not magic. It’s not BW.”
MacCormick’s words fall clearly on the side of HANA not replacing BW, which is a debate full of thorns right now. Regardless of where you stand, MacCormick says its best to look past BI hype for the more mundane truths about a technology.
“Mundane BI can make difference,” he said. Remembering that point may help you separate fact and hysteria.
There was a funny kids TV show when I was growing up called the Electric Company. It wasn’t about utilities or electrical work, but instead tried to help children read better.
Those of you out there who remember this show will recall a skit featuring two famous performers, Bill Cosby and Rita Moreno. The pair played milk delivery drivers, and they had a spirited discussion about determining how many milk bottles to leave at a home’s door each morning.
The skit involved a torn note left for Moreno by a family, and she had to decipher it based on the words she could read. Growing impatient, Moreno decides to skip the note and just yell to the household, “Hey, you guys!”
Fast forward to 2012, and there’s another heated video clip that involves deciphering – in this case, the pronunciation of HANA. The two characters in the video ain’t Cosby and Moreno – they look more like Lego figures – but the back-and-forth conversation between them has some good zingers, just like the Electric Company.
One of my favorite questions during Dr. Bjarne Berg and Penny Silvia's Q&A web chat about SAP HANA this week had to do with the cost of the in-memory technology.
Berg is a NetWeaver BW expert at Comerit, and Silvia is North America leader within IBM for SAP Business Analytics & Technology solutions and a technical advisor for SAPexperts.com. They are co-authoring a new SAP PRESS book, SAP HANA: An Introduction, which is available for pre-order.
During our Q&A, participant Sunil Kolhe asked a jackpot question:
For a 30 TB database to migrate to HANA (standalone, not on BW), what HANA hardware will I need for successful implementation and what would be cost and license estimates?
Try asking that question to SAP during a public forum and you'll usually get an answer like, "Well, you need to talk to your account rep, blah, blah."
This is why I like Berg's work on this website: He's straightforward.
The hardware costs for a 1 TB memory box with 20 cores and 3 TB disks is around $50K to $90K, and there are different editions of HANA depending on what you want to do with it. The first is called "HANA appliance software platform edition", the second is called "HANA appliance software enterprise edition," and the most complete solution is called the "HANA appliance software enterprise extended edition." The difference between these editions is basically how you want to extract, move and replicate the data.
Another interesting question came from participant Rene Tschauder: With HANA as a non-BW sidecar option, can you still access BW data, such as DataStore object tables?
"In that scenario, you would be able to bring BW data in via the HANA data capabilities - most likely via Data Services," Silvia answered.
It is sure clear from this 41-year-old’s perch that SAP and its partners are taking certain steps to appeal to the next generation of developers and business analysts.
So much of the Sapphire Now show in Orlando this week screams “Young!” For example:
The music played before the keynotes included many modern tunes. Sure, as my colleague Dave Hannon mentioned on Twitter, I was getting my lighter out for Boston’s “More Than a Feeling” but that song got morphed into other music by artists such as the Black Eyed Peas in what amounted to the ultimate sampler before SAP Co-CEO Bill McDermott took the stage.
Lars Dalgaard, an SAP board member and head of SAP’s SuccessFactors cloud provider, stormed onto the keynote stage with an energetic charisma that is going to give the older SAP execs more gray hair. Dalgaard is a fun, entertaining speaker.
Sure, there are still attractive young ladies helping to staff the vendor booths, but they are competing with companies that have also brought in performance race cars that you take photos next to as well.
In a nod to Mad Men, many booths now offer beer and win if you sit in on a session.
It all constitutes a smart series of moves by SAP and the vendors because it’s time to make good impressions on future customers now.
Recently, I moderated a web chat Q&A with consultant Dr. Bjarne Berg (a.k.a. IceBerg and Dr. Bergmeister, according to his doting students at Lenoir-Rhyne University), during which he further discussed Comerit Labs’ research into BusinessObjects tools for the iPad versus Android devices.
Given the infancy of tablets and the suboptimal feedback both the Android and iPad OS experiences received from your testers, what is the viable argument at this stage for pursuing a mobile solution with BusinessObjects?
Berg’s answer: “The trick is to selectively pick the tools and methods on how to deploy the mobile solution. For example, the WebI and [Crystal] tools seem to work great on the iPads when used through the downloaded app. The dashboard works fine when going through third-party tools.”
Berg also noted that the new iPad 3 has 400% more pixels than its predecessors, which allows you to zoom down to many more details. This made Berg wonder whether developers will create monster dashboards that prompt you to zoom in instead of shift pages.
Based on those observations, Berg concluded that companies should not hold off on going mobile with BusinessObjects simply because the tablet technology is new. “Just be sober when you decide what to do and what tools to deploy,” he said.
Last week during the BI 2012 conference, we were happy to host Dan Kearnan of SAP when he made a special appearance at the SAPexperts booth to discuss SAP HANA.
It was a more personal setting that you don't often get during our traditional educational sessions at the BI show. The appearance was 15 minutes long and meant to be a quick stop-over for attendees visiting the booth or heading to lunch -- "speed-dating with HANA," Kearnan quipped.
SAP's Dan Kearnan takes conference attendees through HANA
Kearnan talked about where the in-memory technology is heading in 2012 and beyond, with the utlimate goal of HANA replacing databases and serving as the data foundation for all SAP applications, including SAP NetWeaver BW.
Additionally, SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0 is specially designed to work on top of HANA, he said.
We'll continue our special booth meet-and-greets at the combined HR 2012, GRC 2012, and Financials 2012 conferences next week. For those of you attending, please check out the following booth appearances:
Wednesday March 14, 1:45 p.m. -- Jeremy Masters of Worklogix discusses “What's new with Employee and Manager Self Service in enhancement packages 4 and 5”
Thursday March 15, 1:45 p.m. -- David Dixon of TruQua Enterprises talks about "Tips for mapping SAP ERP data to SAP BPC”
What impressed me the most was watching the audience embrace the forum. After Barua concluded his discussion about his five tips, he smartly asked attendees what other tips they've used with BEx. They asked Barua and each other questions ("Why don't the same visual features exist in BEx for SAP NetWeaver BW 7.0?"), and they provided answers ("SAP wants people to spend less time formatting in BEx these days").
It was networking taken out of the corridors of the conference center and brought into the session rooms. For me, at least, the session really did bring an BI Expert article to life.
As we round the corner to the big BI 2012 conference next week in Las Vegas, I thought it would be fun to pair up SAP BI functionality and features with some of the memorable hotels and casinos that comprise the Las Vegas strip:
SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards (formerly known as Xcelsius) — The Planet Hollywood hotel seems a good fit for this software, given that before a recent name change and spruce-up, the hotel was previously known as the Aladdin. And even before the huge towers of the new Aladdin were built on the site, the old-school version of the Aladdin was a lower-lying casino that had cache among long-time fans of Vegas. The old Aladdin and Xcelsius share a story, as both are still fondly remembered even though by name, they are long gone. (Suggested BI 2012 session: “Case study: An inside look at McKesson’s deployment of SAP BusinessObjects for its financial dashboard and analysis requirements”)
SAP HANA — The in-memory technology of SAP HANA reminds me of the new CityCenter Las Vegas property, which features a series of hotels and attractions along with technologically advanced design. Looking at CityCenter can leave you in awe, and early reports on SAP HANA also indicate an impressive experience. The marks that both may leave remain to be seen, however. (Suggested reading: BI Expert’s latest series of HANA articles)
SAP NetWeaver BW — Much of the modern-day Las Vegas strip seems to be built on the back of Caesars Palace, given what the resort accomplishes with its size, pomp, and architecture. The same can be said of NetWeaver, which continues to lay the foundation for much of your SAP BI environment. Upcoming SAP HANA integration will build upon NetWeaver BW’s role. (Suggested BI 2012 networking opportunity: Dan Kearnan of SAP will talk about the HANA roadmap with NetWeaver during a special session at the SAPexperts booth on Thursday, March 1 at 11:30 a.m. PST)
SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation — Just about everyone, including many SAP employees, refers to the planning and consolidation application by its old, outlawed initials: BPC. Similarly, the TI hotel is known by many still as its former name, Treasure Island. In both cases, it is a tale of abbreviations gone awry. (Suggested reading: “If I could use the initials BPC, I’d tell you about new Web client features”).
SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse Accelerator (BWA) — There is some talk that SAP HANA may outdistance BWA in terms of improving NetWeaver performance. Yet depending on the size of the data you need to analyze, BWA may give you more at a cheaper price. BWA would be at home in the Flamingo hotel, which has a great location and reasonable rates, even though you won’t get a jet-setting experience. For many folks, the Flamingo and BWA work just fine. (Suggested vendor session at BI 2012: “Business Warehouse Accelerator or SAP HANA: Which one is right for your company's analytics?”).
I’m sure many of you out there can add to this list, so let me know by posting a comment.