CeBIT Live: Technology Trends

Feature Article | March 3, 2011 by Frank Völkel

Energy-efficient IBM servers for cloud systems at CeBIT (photo: Frank Völkel)

Energy-efficient IBM servers for cloud systems at CeBIT (photo: Frank Völkel)

You would have expected the tagline for this year’s CeBIT to be related to mobility in some way. After all, almost everything – from exhibits through concepts – has something to do with the mobile world. But instead, the organizers and BITKOM (the German Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media) opted to put the spotlight on cloud computing.

Compared with the past two years, the mood this year in Hanover is considerably more optimistic. According to current BITKOM forecasts, the market is growing, especially in China (11%) and the United States (3.2%). The figures for Europe (1.7%) and Japan (0.7%) are modest by comparison.

As a result of continuous specialization in the IT market, the number of visitors to CeBIT has been declining over the years. Back in 2001, some 830,000 people attended the event, while this year the number dropped to an estimated 330,000. Industry exhibitions with focus topics are becoming more popular instead.

CeBIT revamped its categories and is for the first time addressing social networks. There continue to be areas for the public sector and research. Other categories include home automation and home entertainment, where business users and consumers can check out mobile devices and, in some cases, software prototypes. These include applications for sports and health technology and also cover the smart grid. Look out for a separate SAP.info article on this topic.

Microsoft: smartphones with Windows Phone 7 (photo: Frank Völkel)

Microsoft: smartphones with Windows Phone 7 (photo: Frank Völkel)

Last year already, ecosystems for smartphones and tablet PCs – in other words, infrastructures comprising devices, systems, apps, and sales channels – were a great attraction at CeBIT. A great many new tablet PCs are now available, which can be deployed for a wide variety of different tasks – especially in industry.

At the same time, the market is undergoing a transformation. Classic software products on CDs or DVDs to be installed on client/server systems are slowly on their way out and making way for browser-based on-demand applications. But it’ll be at least five years before this transformation is complete.

Read on: Apps for SAP Business ByDesign 2.6

Many companies are opting to outsource applications and services

Many companies are opting to outsource applications and services

Modular apps for SAP Business ByDesign 2.6

SAP Store: apps for SAP Business ByDesign 2.6 (photo: Frank Völkel)

SAP STORE: apps for SAP Business ByDesign 2.6 (photo: Frank Völkel)

A genuine highlight of this year’s CeBIT is the soon-to-be-released SAP STORE for the browser-based SAP Business ByDesign solution. To install the apps, of which there are currently around 30, you need software version 2.6. The idea of distributing different apps that enhance the functions of SAP’s software using a modular approach first emerged at the beginning of last year.

As a rule, the apps are created by SAP partners, who then place them in various categories in the SAP STORE. The price model is similar to that of SAP Business ByDesign. Licenses are purchased on a monthly and user basis – and, of course, the SAP partner companies can grant discounts.

Compatibility check before purchasing an app for SAP Business ByDesign (photo: Frank Völkel)

Compatibility check before purchasing an app for SAP Business ByDesign (photo: Frank Völkel)

SAP STORE is the first commercial platform (CP) to offer enhancements for SAP Business ByDesign. Ultimately, the objective is for the configuration of software functions to be just as easy as configuring a car online.

For example, SAP partner Data One (headquartered in Saarbrücken, Germany) and Bautzen IT (headquartered in Bautzen, Germany) developed the apps “CRM Planning Table” and “Equipment Management” respectively. SAP STORE will initially be available in the United States, the United Kingdom, India, China, France, and Germany.

Read on: Office 365, Duet Enterprise, and energy-efficient servers

License model based on users and use: app for SAP Business ByDesign (photo: Frank Völkel)

License model based on users and use: app for SAP Business ByDesign (photo: Frank Völkel)

Compact and energy-efficient servers

IBM Power 795 server supports up to 256 CPU cores and 8 TB (photo: Frank Völkel)

IBM Power 795 server supports up to 256 CPU cores and 8 TB (photo: Frank Völkel)

In terms of servers, providers are developing ever more compact and energy-efficient platforms, with most of them using processors from the world’s biggest chip manufacturer, Intel. This particularly applies to the enormous – and continuously expanding – data centers that make cloud computing possible in the first place.

IBM, Dell, and Fujitsu have emerged as the leaders in equipping data centers with hardware.

Office 365: working in the clouds

Browser-based Microsoft Office software and services: Office 365 (photo: Frank Völkel)

Browser-based Microsoft Office software and services: Office 365 (photo: Frank Völkel)

Microsoft has a range of products for potential customers to admire at CeBIT: In addition to the beta version of Internet Explorer 9, the software giant is touting its cloud-based on-demand package Office 365, which users access through their Internet browser and which targets smaller companies.

Microsoft Office 365 enables business and private customers to create – and pay for – a package comprising precisely the functions they need.

Internet Explorer 9: enhanced support for HTML5 Video, geolocalization, and Canvas (photo: Frank Völkel)

Internet Explorer 9: enhanced support for HTML5 Video, geolocalization, and Canvas (photo: Frank Völkel)

Internet Explorer 9 promises improved performance for animations and complex graphics through integrated hardware acceleration that is only active with certain graphic cards. Support for new Web standards such as HTML5 Video, Canvas, Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), and CSS3 functions also deserves a mention here.

What’s more, there’s a geolocalization API that enables location-specific services. On the video compression front, Google-sponsored VP8 has locked horns with the already established and popular H.264 (also known as MPEG-4 AVC) favored by Microsoft.

Windows 7 Enterprise has a multitouch display reminiscent of the iPad

Windows 7 Enterprise has a multitouch display reminiscent of the iPad

Microsoft and SAP: Duet Enterprise and SharePoint

SAP has joined forces with Microsoft for the Duet Enterprise project. The objective is to use Microsoft Office programs as the front end for reports and workflows, while key SAP installations run in the background. Microsoft SharePoint servers are deployed as the basis for collaboration.

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