Most of the Enterprise Irregulars blogging coverage of this week’s SAP analyst event was neutral to mildly negative. Look at Dennis, Jeff, Jason, Dan. I’ve had a rather busy couple of days, so I’ve only the viewed the Webcast this evening.
Vinnie commented as follows:
Reading the posts from SAP’s analyst summit from fellow Irregulars – Dennis, Jeff, Jason, Dan I think it may be time to embargo news for SAP also. It’s just lots of big ticket/low payback projects (SOA, Compliance, Duet), fixation (on Oracle), self-delusion (Shai saying SAP will have 10,000 customers on SOA by end 2007, compared to 400 today; Peter Graf suggesting there are no integration costs around SAP. News to SAP’s not-so-small SI ecosystem).
Like Mark, I hope Vinnie continues to blog about SAP, even if he does knock us. It is good to have the dialogue. I don’t think that he does the event justice though. Look and listen yourself and make up your own mind.
In the category of overall market leadership, SAP took the biggest leap of all, and landed squarely in the process. On the morning of the second day of the conference, SAP’s Peter Zencke unveiled what the company calls a “SOA by Design” platform that effectively will let a mid-market company switch on or off a select set of processes that in turn will yield a pre-configured MySAP system. To answer one of Dennis Howlett’s questions, this will in turn be potentially available in SaaS mode, which of course is exactly what the mid-market would love to see. The Zencke demo was definitely a live demo, running on a system back in Waldorf, and complete with a “server not found” error message. But it had the right effect: highlighting not only SAP’s ability (thanks to its partnership with IDS Scheer) to model complex business processes in a SOA environment, but also showing that, underlying the theory of SOA and the theory of model-based deveopment are some very serious and extensive business processes that SAP owns and can deliver to its customers’ advantage.
It is a pity that the second day isn’t on line yet. I hope the analyst relations folks stick it up soon. I’d like to watch the Peter Zenke demo. (I’d guess that having board members that have a passion for and deep grasp of code is a whole lot better than being run by investment bankers.)
The mid-market project has been called A1S internally, and mentioning outside SAP was theoretically taboo. It is a relief now that the A1S story is now out in the open.
The blade centre model is a take on SaaS that some of the SaaS priesthood will deem impure, but I think proof will be in the delivery.
Now the “go to market story ” must come together. Many of brightest developers here at SAP have been working hard over the last couple of years, it is now time for the marketing folks to do their job. I hope the messaging will be simple and compelling. The product will be. I have seen it and it rocks.
I do worry that we have a tendency to overly focus on the recipe and not on the meal.
Jason also covered the Citigroup’s Thill & AMR talk software session. Lots of positives for SAP there, and some key things we need to focus on.
Bruce cautioned that SAP and Oracle need to do a better job at articulating the value proposition of their new SOA-based platforms, because many customers remain unclear about how the technical aspects of the new platform really benefit them in terms of improving business process.
Bruce and Shep agreed that it all comes down to SOA and converging the marketing hype with business value to customers. Both Oracle and SAP are spending a ton of marketing dollars and messaging on SOA; yet their customers remain very confused and unclear about the value proposition.
In a recent note Jim Shepherd commented
One of the best indications of a technology maturing is the vendors finally stop talking about it. We may finally be reaching that point with service-oriented architecture (SOA).
I’m hoping that we stop talking about SOA, and just show the applications that use it.