day 1 at SAPPHIRE

I’m currently at SAP’s annual customer conference SAPPHIRE in Frankfurt. SAP is so far pulling out a lot of stops to get back its mojo in terms of innovation and showing leadership within the business application space. Many of the mentors are onsite in Frankfurt and Orlando (where the other customer event is run in parallel) – a nice change from an otherwise rather “suitey” event.

First session on Monday was a roundtable with SAP’s Ingo Benckmann, Senior Director Solution Management In-Memory Computing. Ingo gave us some high-level insights into how In-Memory Database (IMDB) is executed. SAP very much believes that IMDB is the “right technology at the right time”. Customers have become used to direct, immediate system responses and IMDB very much reflects this trend.

When asked about ways how IMDB will be implemented, Benckmann describes a customer’s path to SAP delivered in-memory technology as a “side car approach”. This means IMDB is added to an existing landscape, run in tandem with any relational database and therefore less disruptive, more like an addition.

“Answers questions you didn’t know you had”
Ingo Benckmann talked about the power of immediate responses from BI queries and new, quicker insights into company data. This was also reflected by other panel comments this morning. Most examples focus on improvements for BI reporting and analysis, I’m hoping to hear more about the transactional data side of things in the near future. In addition, there are necessary changes in the tooling which will probably be discussed in more detail at SAP’s technical conference later this year.


SAP is trying to walk the talk and tried out a new approach to the way how Sapphire is run. This year’s conference is held in parallel in Orlando, FL and Frankfurt, Germany. Keynotes were presented in both locations and via real-time multicast, emphasising the on-demand, immediate and real-time message. Overall, both keynotes by Sir Richard Branson and former US Vice President Al Gore lived up to expectation, albeit a strange interview format with Branson.

Panel Discussion with Jim Hagemann Snabe

On Tuesday morning, a CIO panel discussing “customer demand in a changing business environment” was asked questions by SAP Mentors (note: I’m part of the SAP Mentor group) regarding outlook and commitment on Agile project methodologies. Wolfgang Gaertner, CIO of Deutsche Bank couldn’t see any reasons why agile methodologies shouldn’t be adopted where it makes sense and is safe. Co-CEO Jim Snabe emphasised once again SAP’s commitment to make Agile part of SAP’s lifeblood.

Another interesting question was asked by SAP Mentor Richard Hirsch with regards to the role of SIs and SAP Partners in an on-demand software model. Snabe’s view is that SAP’s job is to create and maintain a stable core platform with various business processes, leaving the differentiation to the partners. I can imagine that this would mean quite a game changer for SAP partners (and potentially a lot less project work).

During the same session Snabe also emphasised a “hybrid” model of on-premise and on-demand software for many years to come. According to Snabe, On-premise is going to become more “shrink-wrapped”, which was most likely a hint towards more Best Practices.

All in all a good start to Sapphire and SAP’s efforts to regain customer confidence. Two more days to come.

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