SAP’s Sapphire user conference

 SAP Sapphire 2010
SAP Sapphire 2010Business software vendor SAP AG (NYSE:SAP) held its annual Sapphire user conference in May, and for the first time the show was simulcast concurrently from both Orlando and Frankfurt.

Learn more about this year’s edition of Sapphire in this CDN slide show.
By Jeff Jedras of Computer Dealer News

SAP's Co-CEOs Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe
SAP’s Co-CEOs reach a milestoneSapphire was held just as SAP’s Co-CEOs, Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe, marked their first 100 days on the job after taking over for Leo Apotheker.

In their press conference, the duo emphasized the difference between SAP’s partnering and open ecosystem approach, versus rival Oracle Corp’s. (NASDAQ: ORCL) own the stack model.

SAP's McDermott
McDermott: We’re not OracleSAP’s acquisition of Sybase was a hot topic at the conference, and McDermott told Sapphire attendees mobility will now be one of SAP’s three cornerstones (along with on demand and on premise) to connect to what he calls the new desktops: mobile devices.

McDermott promised no change in Sybase’s go to market and no major layoffs, pledging Sybase will continue to work with SAP competitors and will be run by SAP as a separate company.

 Co-CEOs, Jim Hagemann Snabe
Snabe launches Business ByDesignSnabe used Sapphire to announce the long-promised release of Business ByDesign, SAP’s on-demand ERP offering for the mid-market.

The vendor promises real-time analytics with bi-directional Microsoft Excel integration, support for mobile devices, an enhanced rich client UI built on Silverlight, and the opportunity for partners to build vertical specialization and customization.

Canada will need to wait a little longer for ByDesign however, with Canadian availability expected in early 2011.

Vishal Sikka, Chief Technology Officer, SAP
In memory with Vishal SikkaSAP’s chief technology officer, Vishal Sikka, was one of the executives to emphasize the importance of SAP’s new in-memory technology, which enables much speedier analytics and near real-time query responses.

Businesses can either build a new in-memory architecture, or plug an appliance developed with partners Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) and Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) into their existing networks.

“Enterprises today are looking to become unencumbered, are looking to become unbound, to unleash the power of their existing landscapes. And we will do that without bringing disruption to the systems you already own,” he said.

Hasso Plattner, Co-Founder of SAP
Speed is money, says Hasso“Speed is money,” Hasso Plattner, the co-founder of SAP, told Sapphire. Plattner urged attendees to prepare for “new world of in-memory computing” that would take advantage of multi-core processors and parallel computing to deliver business critical information in real time.

Plattner demonstrated the power and speed of in-memory databases. He went on to pledge that by using in-memory databases, any business query in a company the size of SAP could be returned and presented in an industry standard format, such as Microsoft Excel, in less than a second.

Peter Graf, Chief Sustainability Officer, SAP
A sustainable SAPSAP’s chief sustainability officer, Peter Graf, updated Sapphire attendees on SAP’s sustainability and reporting initiatives.

For more, read Measuring sustainability is an IT challenge

Richard Branson, Founder, Virgin
Sir Richard hits SapphireVirgin founder and boss Richard Branson was among the celebrity keynoters at Sapphire, and he devoted much of his time to talking about the role the private sector can play in sustainability.

One way Branson is taking the lead is by creating a “Carbon War Room” where entrepreneurs collaborate and share best practices on reducing carbon input.

“The enemy is carbon, but there was no war room to co-ordinate the attack on carbon. And while there were many great ideas, there was no central command centre to fight this invisible enemy.”

Mary Whittle, Director of Worldwide Channel Development, Avaya
Al Gore without the PowerPointUnsurprisingly, sustainability was also a key topic for fellow Sapphire keynoter Al Gore, the former U.S. vice-president turned environmental activist.

Gore, who has partnered with Virgin’s Richard Branson on the Carbon War Room, called SAP a leader on sustainability issues that is eating its own cooking.

“Even though this is the right thing to do, all business leaders that focus on sustainability are better off,” said Gore.

Former Secretary of State, Colin Powell
Colin Powell, comedianFormer U.S. General and Secretary of State Colin Powell delivered, surprisingly, the funniest and most entertaining keynote of Sapphire.

Now a venture capitalist, Powell had some amusing stories about the transition from Army life to the State Department, and from very-important-government person to average Joe.

Powell, an information junkie, also said he’s trying to become digital. “I still have trouble because I was born analog.”

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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