Partial Plans Perplex Press at SAP – Sybase Event, But Promise is Everywhere

SAP co-CEOs Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe and Sybase CEO John Chen keynoted a two-continent event on August 19 to demonstrate their solidarity and provide an early look at strategic plans. Many analysts greeted the initial announcement with positive reviews – mine is here, and Noel Yuhanna of Forrester weighed in here. Progress since the $5.8 billion transaction formally closed (just a few weeks ago) has been modest, but certainly better than the message, which was not yet crisp. The press release (several pages in length) was long on marketing phrases and short on specifics, and those in attendance generally found the content scattered and difficult to parse. Highlights emerged, however, in the subsequent discussions as press, analysts and bloggers dug in for details:

  • A mobile application software development kit (SDK) will combine the Sybase Unwired Platform (SUP) with SAP NetWeaver Mobile and Business Objects Mobile software within 9 months.
  • Sybase CEO John Chen, on the SAP board, will operate Sybase as a “separate, independent unit,” and reaffirmed the commitment to maintaining the product roadmap he made when I interviewed him at TechWave
  • SAP will “port, certify and optimize” SAP Business Suite, NetWeaver Business Warehouse, Business Objects Data Services and Business Objects BI solutions to Sybase ASE. No dates were specified.
  • Business Objects, already certified for Sybase ASE and IQ, will be “combined with (unspecified) Sybase data management servers” to deliver “discovery, storage, and consumption.” No dates were specified; it’s not clear what’s new here other than packaging.
  • The companies will incorporate SAP’s in-memory computing technology across SAP and Sybase data management offerings.

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SAP Signals Changes At Insider Event – Vaguely

SAP took the wraps off planned updates to its data warehousing, data integration and on-demand BI plans a bit at the  SAP Insider BI and Portals event in Orlando in late March. There were some modest surprises: the unexpected absence of Marge Breya, who was in Walldorf apparently getting a broader set of responsibilities (a week later, still no official word about that); a delay in the release schedule and changed naming of the next Business Warehouse release; and a strong (and thus encouraging) Data Services message that reaffirmed Business Objects openness. Read more of this post

Want Broader BI Usage? Crystal Reports Founders Offer Indicee

Mark Cunningham has reunited some of the team that built Crystal Reports (now part of SAP Business Objects) and launched Indicee, a SaaS-based BI reporting play that is pointed squarely at the continuing difficulty of extending BI beyond its seemingly permanent minority usage model.

It’s commonly understood that users continue to fend for themselves manually, moving data to spreadsheets for analytic manipulation because IT is unable to respond quickly enough to their needs. Indicee tackles this by re-using existing report and spreadsheet content (not surprisingly, Crystal reports lead the source list), moving it to the cloud for data mart-based interaction, and innovating a different approach to user interaction. It’s worth a look, and a free download for trial use sweetens the deal. Read more of this post

IBM Showcases Software Vision and Hadoop Research

At IBM’s 8th annual Connect meeting with analysts, Steve Mills, Senior VP and Group Executive, had much to crow about. Software is the engine driving IBM’s profitability, anchoring its customer relationships, and enabling the vaulting ambition to drive the company’s Smarter Planet theme into the boardroom. Mills’ assets are formidable: 36 labs worldwide have more than 100 SW developers each, plus 49 more with over 20 – 25,000 developers in all. Mills showcased all this in a matter-of-fact, businesslike fashion with minimal hype and little competitor bashing. A research project aimed at extending Hadoop usage to a broader audience was among the highlights.  Read more of this post

More From The Low End: DynamoDB is the New Lucid

LucidDB (aka “the best database for BI you don’t know about”) has a commercial version on the way at last. Nick Goodman, a longtime user active in the Eigenbase and other related open source communities, has stepped in. Nick has a consulting practice that builds BI implementations (many using Lucid and Pentaho), and he’s now spun out a firm called Dynamo Business Intelligence to issue and support a product to be called DynamoDB. He often  found his BI clients asking what to use for a database – the default was MySQL, but he loves Lucid’s features and performance, and so it seemed like time. Nick’s blog can be found here.

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My Best Decision Today: Skipping Larry’s Fusion Speech

It’s been a good Oracle Open World so far, unless you wanted some exciting news about Fusion Apps. All the cyberworld was a-twitter (pun intended) about that during the run-up to the event. If that’s what you wanted, sorry – the payoff couldn’t have been flatter if the Governator had run over it with one of his Hummers. (More likely his wife would have done it while illegally talking on her cell phone.) There was a great theme this year: “Come With Questions. Leave With Answers.” Yup. And the answer was: “Wait till next year.” Read more of this post

Oracle, Sleeves Rolled Up, Flexes EPM Muscles

It’s been a while since Oracle made the series of acquisitions that redrew the map on applications software, and they have been fairly successful there. The broadening of the portfolio created considerable challenges for the rationalization of Oracle’s BI strategy, and I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Paul Rodwick and Bill Guilmart, VPs of Product Management, to catch up on the Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) story so far. We analysts are quick to criticize the pace of integration, the level of detail, and the timing of the roadmap from companies with enormous portfolios like Oracle’s. Personally, I’m glad I don’t have to live every day with the consequences of my brilliant ideas about how to rationalize all those moving parts. (Remember those ads? “We don’t do. We just advise.”) Paul and Bill must live with theirs, and I was impressed with the clarity and consistency of the model they described to me. It’s a good story, with emerging successes in abundance, and the best may be yet to come. Read more of this post

Vista SP2: Seamless, Simple, but Search Still Lags

I’ve been talking here about the upgrade to Windows 7, which has been quite pleasant so far. It’s quicker, with some nice UI improvements, and other bits and pieces I’ll talk about in other posts before long, I suspect. But being the glutton for punishment I am, this evening before dinner I decided to try the other big Microsoft OS change this month – the new service pack (SP2) for Vista, which I run on my iDell (the XPS, if you insist on correct nomenclature.) My conclusions? Read more of this post

Information Builders Prepares to Ramp It Up

The last couple of years for Information Builders (IBI) have been a mixed bag. On the one hand, WebFocus, their flagship BI offering, has received stellar reviews, getting top marks from Gartner and Forrester in published research. On the other hand, growth stalled and sputtered a bit for the past year or two, and then the economy went south. But a strong new management focus, the clearing of the field as other leading independent BI vendors were acquired, and some timely new product introductions have set the table for a new surge by the New York-based vendor.Logo_IB_3015 Read more of this post