A gray mix of rain and snow, icy winds, and freezing temperatures: CeBIT is still two weeks away, but Hanover seems to be getting an early start on the delightful weather it tends to produce for the event. Meanwhile, the spacious halls are still empty and only the occasional passing truck reminds the observer of the construction work underway at the world’s largest IT convention.
The atmosphere at the convention center itself, however, is already buzzing. Some 1,420 attendees – including SAP executives Michael Kleinemeier and Gerhard Oswald – have come together for the Technology Days held by the German-speaking SAP User Group (DSAG).
The tenor of the event is one of rapprochement – perhaps in part because the actual discussions are taking place in work groups rather than in public. While the topic of last year’s DSAG Technology Days in Mannheim was the divergence of SAP systems, the 2011 event is focusing on software tailored to each company’s needs.
All eyes on ERP 6.0
Just prior to the event, DSAG conducted a survey of its member companies regarding their willingness to invest in IT. The results indicated that SAP ERP 6.0 remains SAP’s core product, with 83% of the companies surveyed using the application. Of those that are not yet using the latest release, 13% are planning to upgrade. Although a new release (such as SAP ERP 7.0) is not currently scheduled, DSAG expects support and maintenance for SAP ERP 6.0 to run until 2020.
Virtualization is another topic making the most waves with customers and spurring their investment plans. Mobile and cloud computing are also stoking interest, but few companies have exhibited a desire to spend money on these areas due to obstacles and uncertainties they see in compliance, security, and data protection.
Simple, flexible, efficient, mobile – according to Dr. Marco Lenck, these are the main criteria business software has to meet. In his opening address, the director of DSAG’s board area for technology emphasized the successes achieved in 2010 and took a look back at several key SAP products.
Users lament lack of EHP information from SAP
Enhancement packages are clearly resonating with customers – a recent survey found that 60% of users have implemented EHPs – but only half of them really take advantage of all the included functions. For Lenck, this is a sign that SAP has work to do in the communication department.
Meanwhile, the combination of EHPs and service packages is finding more and more favor with customers, and Lenck reported further success in the release upgrade process, where downtime has been significantly reduced.
Additional improvements have been made with regard to usability. SAP EHP Installer and Maintenance Optimizer, for example, aids installation of enhancement packages, and EHP 5 includes full support for SAP Solution Manager. It’s also possible to carry out a complete or selective upgrade.
Read on: SAP HANA replacing databases?
SAP HANA replacing databases?
Although the software itself was not officially introduced until SAP TechEd 2010, Hasso Plattner explained the concept behind SAP High-Performance Analytic Appliance (SAP HANA) back at SAPPHIRE 2010. Marco Lenck recalled the occasion by displaying some photos of one of the SAP co-founder’s hand-drawn slides. SAP HANA makes it possible to analyze business data in real time by mapping entire ERP systems in a server’s main memory.
According to Lenck, so far only two companies have sought to implement this new technology due to the considerable hardware investment required. Many are content to wait and observe how the technology develops while continuing with conventional reporting. As soon as SAP HANA gains a foothold in the real business world, however, Lenck predicted – with a nod towards Plattner’s slide – that it will replace entire databases and business warehouse systems. This way, companies could reduce their expenses in IT and human resources.
Sprechen Sie Deutsch, SAP Solution Browser?
SAP Solution Browser provides all of the necessary information on what’s new in individual release upgrades and enhancement packages, and also aids installations of EHP 5. Previously only on offer in English and Korean – a comprehension issue for many customers – the tool is now also available in German.
The same is true of SAP ERP Business Function Prediction, which companies can use to get an idea of the new functions and improvements they can expect based on specific examples.
Read on: SAP NetWeaver 7.3, technology road maps
NetWeaver 7.3: a standardized platform
By offering support for ABAP and Java, SAP NetWeaver 7.3 is ready to fulfill the wishes of many a customer. This new release is a consolidated platform that no longer separates elements into various independent systems.
An application server and technology platform in one, SAP NetWeaver 7.3 also supports WebPage and Composer and provides wikis and other ways to collaborate. SAP BusinessObjects 4.0 is the first release designed to be fully compatible with SAP NetWeaver 7.3.
SAP technology road maps
Lenck also called attention to other successes in his address, including functions such as Page Builder and Web Dynpro and productivity and configuration improvements in ABAP.
In addition, SAP customers – who previously could only view planned business functions – can now visit SAP Service Marketplace (login required) to access entire technology road maps.