Disclaimer : I begin where I left off in my last post; which is to admit that there could be many variations of above paradigm. Enterprise by definition is B2B market. Enteprise applications cannot exactly be like indiviual applications. At some-level therefore this analogy will fall flat. I would also say that some of what I write is my speculations on what SAP might be doing.I base my predictions on publicly available informations from SAP. I am also trying to to place SAP in context of where the cuttent Enterprise iT market is (and not just Oracle). I must also mention here that SAP HANA of future maybe significantly different avatar from what we are seing it today.
In this blog I would like to mention a little more detail on the reasons why I think SAP HANA should or “may” adopt Iphone model.
First among these, is the Cloud. Remember Enetrprise Customer is made of a group of individuals. So when we speak of an appliance it makes sense, only when the group is able to share the applications of the appliance.
Cloud is the most important reason why we will see more and more vendors offering “Applications/ Solutions / Appliance” on cloud (lets call it appliance inspite of some reserversations) . Any appliance available on the cloud makes it accessible to Enterprise customers & developers. We can offer appliance as defined above on multi-tenent basis or we may do it on dedicated basis or some other model. Important thing is that the customer gets what he wants on plug and play basis. And in this respect, actually SAP can offer mini-iPhones by using multi-tenancy.
Now moving on to applications. We now know, one of the key drivers for success of an computer appliance is number of applications available on it. THIS WAS TRUE, for PC as it was for iPhone. (PC Vs MAC, anyone?). In Enterprise Applications space we are not used to it, but this is going to change. There is clearly a case for SAP to open up to developers and allow them to develop applications on its appliance. It can be argued that Cloud applications developed by smaller developers offer insuffient integration or does not provide SAP much benefit.I have 2 answers for this. First is, in my experience, there is an extremely knowledge-able and talented pool of developers outside of SAP world. The world and SAP is a better place if these incredibly gifted developers can leverage SAP ecosystem. Even if SAP does not open up, we cannot assume that these individuals will not become a threat to SAP by launching alternative and successful products outside of SAP. So in my view it is to SAP’s benefit to co-opt these individuals. The Second answer is we do not need integration for many applications, particularly those that lie outside of legal-fiscal boundaries. In any case most of them can be integrated at reporting level and that is all we may require.
Moving on, we have this hardware-software integration model. Now this can have few manifestation.
The first is one for the Cloud. It is true that SAP is not a hardware company which is where, it is probably most divergent from Apple. However,consider this. If IBM can successfully become a leading System Integrator from a hardware vendore; how much of effort is it for SAP to add hardware capability? Atleast to the extent being able to offer an appliance. In any case, SAP can still buy hardware from other vendors and run its own data-center. How many of the worlds largest hosting companies manufacture their own hardware? In my view, atleast in short term, this is not a big issue and in loger view, things can be changed.
The second manifestation would be if SAP started selling plug and play smart boxes as appliance? (IBM already does that). In my view SAP can and would do this. If these appliances are made sufficiently affordable and ready for cloud deployment, it will not be any less revolutionary than iPhone. In this manifestation, I would assume the Enterprise would only consume applications and developers develop it.
The key phrase that I would like to use is “plug and play” and I guess, atleast in next couple of years thats where we would move.