10 Years with EMC this week…

This week was a milestone in my career with EMC, hitting the 10 year mark on Monday Feb 17th. I thought it definitely deserved a day off for me (something about a President’s day for others that also took the day off…).

Would be interesting to reflect on the last 10 years. Given we live in a world of real-time outcomes and social media, I am not going to attempt to reflect on the journey it’s been, but rather continue to look forward.

One thing I have learned from great leaders at EMC is to push the envelope and attempt to be a change agent, which I am incredibly grateful for and will continue to do. I will admit though, although I have always believed in challenging the status quo for valid reasons, I also like to have fun (doing the same thing all over again is just plain boring!). I think the main reason I am still with EMC after 10 years (through EMC ups and downs) is that I am having fun at EMC, especially with my friends in the #SAPPosse!

Spending 6 ½ years in direct sales as an AE (Commercial & Enterprise orgs) as well as a Global Account Manager and now over 3 years in our Global SAP practice in a client facing role have been very rewarding. Staying close to our SAP client’s requirements, challenges and initiatives gives you a perspective of reality, which I believe is necessary to be relevant. Now what’s really cool in the last few years is that social media, with tools like Twitter, gives you an opportunity to stay close even without face-to-face interaction.

Social gives you a communication vehicle with no boundaries which is just awesome! Some of my friends at EMC and in the Ecosystem sometimes joke that it’s easier to reach me on twitter than email…what some people don’t get is that it’s true. I probably miss 100+ emails per week. Way more productive to communicate in real-time using 140 characters or less. One day perhaps others will realize this and email will be for dinasours.

One interesting reflection from earlier this year in 2014 was that I was incredibly fortunate to get nominated by peers and inducted to the EMC Elect class of 2014 which is a community of Social EMC evangelists.
For those who don’t know the EMC Elect community. Check out it out. It may not be appropriate to say this, but being recognized by my peers to the EMC Elect community means more to me than reaching a 10 year milestone with EMC.

EMC Elect Picture
If you are interested to engage with the #EMCElect community check out our upcoming Crowdchat on Feb 28th. Even EMCs “Dean of Big Data” is joining us :)

So what about the next 10 years…

I was just fortunate to attend SAP’s Sales kickoff for APJ (in Singapore) and Americas (in Las Vegas) in the last few weeks. Let’s just say it gave us a ton to think about in the SAP & EMC relationship.

The “Imagineering” has been hitting a max rating for me since and you can expect more cool things to come. Especially around Big Data for SAP client. There is no secret that the opportunity to drive better insight from data for business outcomes is Massive! Stay tuned on this with our Project Jupiter Platform.
Catch me on twitter, or join us in 2014 somewhere in the world using our SAP Travel Guide!

Value trumps vendor Olympics for SAP HANA!

I often ponder why clients, partners and internal EMCers often ask us what SAP HANA infrastructure (Appliances) we can provide for a said SAP HANA project. Many of us jump straight into the speeds and feeds of our SAP HANA appliance offerings: Cisco/EMC, VCE Vblock and most recently a TDI (Open HANA) with EMC VMAX. Clients and partners then want to immediately talk about how our appliances compare with alternative vendor appliances (“Vendor Appliance Olympics”).

I thought the days of IT just providing technology infrastructure for a particular use case or project were over.

I believe that SAP clients want to get business value out of their Projects such as an SAP HANA platform deployment. For most clients there has to be a clear plan with a business case in order to get justification and ability to initiate a deployment. Customers are also thinking about how to leverage the “Data” in order to further innovate and draw insights for their businesses.

When we get these questions I suggest we instead talk about what role we can play around SAP HANA…why don’t we start by asking the question and trying to better understand:
- how is the client looking to Deploy SAP HANA?
- how is the client looking to Operationalize SAP HANA?

Let me explain…

There is a set of categories that we need to better understand with regards to the client “Deploying SAP HANA”:
- What is the client use case? As a Sidecar, an Agile Data Mart, BW, or Suite on HANA?
- Who is driving this use case and business case for the client? SAP Consulting, SI or boutique BI shop?
- Do you need to run a PoC to validate the use case and technology platform? If so, what metrics will be in place?
- How is the client looking to migrate to HANA based on their use case? Starting with test/dev?
- Does the HANA project fit into a larger Big Data or Analytics initiative?
- Is the client looking to deploy HANA on-premise or off-premise?

Then there are a set of categories that we need to better understand with regards to the client being able to best “Operationalize SAP HANA”:
- If the client is looking to deploy SAP HANA on-premise, how is the client looking to deploy SAP HANA infrastructure: Appliance model, TDI or Virtual HANA?
- How is the client looking to protect the SAP HANA environment? HA, Backup/Recovery, Disaster Tolerance? What’s the desired RTO/RPO?
- Does the client want to manage the SAP HANA infrastructure, SAP HANA platform and/or functional use cases internally or are you looking for outside help to run the platform on-premise, in order to just take advantage of the business value of the SAP HANA platform?

What I have found is that if you take this simple solutions approach, you will probably have a more intelligent conversation with your client about their project, gain credibility and will probably get an opportunity to tell a more strategic story on how EMC can help an SAP client be successful in their HANA project.

Here is an example…

Mr Customer, did you know?:
EMC partners with SAP and SIs and boutique consulting firms deliver an end-to-end strategy on how a client can Deploy and Operationalize an SAP HANA platform in order to maximize business value, accelerate the deployment, reduce risk of the project and build out the right TCO model.

With EMC partnerships, including our consulting partners and our Infrastructure partners: Cisco, VCE, VMware and Intel as well as our entire solutions portfolio including EMC Data Protection, I sincerely feel that we are in the best position to help our clients be successful in their SAP HANA projects with the most flexible and agile set of solutions. We also have a set of Service Provider Partners including HEC (HANA Enterprise Cloud) offerings for those clients looking to deploy SAP HANA off-premise. Another indvidual piece of the larger picture is to leverage EMC and VMware including Virtual HANA in HANA Deployment and Operations model.

One way of engaging with us in this more intelligent way is at our SAP Week (#SAPWeek) events where we have our top SAP resources as well as the partners to help clients be successful in their SAP HANA projects. Here are two of those upcoming events in the Americas. Stay tuned for dates for EMEA and APJ.

SAP Week Atlanta Feb 11th-12th & SAP Week Santa Clara March 4th-6th

I am also looking forward to having this conversation with SAP executives at FKOM (SAPs Field Kickoff Meeting) in Singapore next week Jan 14th-15th and then at SAP FKOM Las Vegas Jan 21st-22nd.
See you there!

The Chess Game: Strategy vs. Tactics

Growing up playing chess as a kid, my father tried to teach me valuable lessons to better understand the dynamics between strategy and tactics. I have carried these lessons with me by continuing to play chess throughout my life in sports, business and personal life, and I am very thankful for these lessons early on in my life.

There have been many times when I realized how important these lessons were, one example was playing competitive college tennis when one of my coaches asked me what was going on as I was losing an important match: I responded saying: “We need to come up with a new game plan to win this match!” He said: “You only change your game plan if you come up with a better one. Now focus on executing the original game plan better and you will win!” He was right! And he was right throughout his coaching career which is why he was recognized in tennis circles as one of the best tennis coaches in the world.

In January 2013 I wrote a blog post about EMC’s Private Cloud for SAP strategy saying: “I believe this Private Cloud for SAP adoption will accelerate in 2013 which is going to make this year another exciting year for everyone in the SAP ecosystem”

Now at the end of 2013 we can reflect that we have indeed hit the tipping point for SAP customers who are deploying a Private Cloud for SAP solution. Clients are not asking us anymore IF it’s a good idea, they are asking us HOW we can help them to deploy their Private Cloud for SAP strategy.

As a result, we have also built up a much better set of internal and external capabilities to help our SAP clients deploy a Private Cloud for SAP. This has helped reduce the risk for many SAP customers. The external capabilities are delivered by a set of Alliances partners who have best of breed solutions, and have realized the value they can provide clients.  These capabilities combined with our internal ones are expanding with our partners such as SAP and VMware to create leading solutions with best-of-breed technology. There are still some within our organizations who believe that doing the world’s best Private Cloud Infrastructure presentation makes clients want to start their SAP Infrastructure modernization efforts, however most have figured out, that while the SAP infrastructure discussion is important and will definitely take place, the focus must be more on HOW we can help our clients start and execute their journey’s (deployment, migration, automation, orchestration).

We have been fortunate to have been awarded a ton of infrastructure deployments with our solutions portfolio in the SAP space in 2013…and we were also happy to see a large number of Fortune 100 companies running SAP proceeding down the path with a Private Cloud strategy partnering with us. One of them just sent us the orders right before Christmas which was a great start to the Christmas celebrations for us.

One key point we have learned is that Private Cloud for SAP is indeed a strategy. In my opinion, for those clients looking to only virtualize their SAP environment by procuring modernized x86 infrastructure are only looking at it from a tactical perspective. The clients who are able to transform their business by driving automation, improving agility and improving business and IT processes around their Private Cloud for SAP stack are the ones able to take full advantage of the true value a Private Cloud for SAP strategy brings to dramatically improve Agility, Time-to-Market, TCO. These are the clients that are able to change the paradigm of IT becoming more relevant within their organizations and over time shift the percentage of their budget being spent on keeping the lights on vs adding value by delivering new and improved functionality.

We now feel strongly about starting with the 1st step to modernizing SAP infrastructure in order to become Agile and cost effective as an organization, which then puts you in a better place to take advantage of innovative technologies such as Big Data Solutions, Analytics, SAP HANA.

As an example, if an SAP client has already deployed (or in the process of deploying) a Private Cloud for SAP solution strategy, then adopting SAP HANA leveraging the same infrastructure architectures as their traditional ERP through Tailored Data Center Integration and/or Virtual HANA becomes way more feasible. This approach then also becomes part of a larger strategy which can be justified through a business case. One example of this was EMC IT’s internal BPC on HANA deployment, which went live Nov 24th on 100% virtual (VMware) infrastructure (Note: this is not yet fully supported by SAP and VMware) only possible because EMC IT had executed a Private Cloud for SAP strategy a year earlier. 
BPC on HANA EMC ITCheck out his recent blog post on this topic and follow @putitonHANA to learn more on EMC’s internal HANA journey. Mike Harding and his team are truly doing some cool things.

I would also like to give a year end shout out to our EMC friends in the Data Protection & Availability Division (DPAD, formerly known as BRS – Backup & Recovery Systems). For years we have been talking about the fact that our SAP clients are looking for better ways to come up with an overall Data Protection Strategy for their mission critical SAP environments. Backup & Recovery is important but is just a piece of how to protect an SAP environment. With EMC combing assets from BRS to include EMC RecoverPoint and VPLEX to form DPAD (in Nov 2013 http://reflectionsblog.emc.com/2013/11/better-together.html), our EMC DPAD friends are now looking at Data Protection the way our SAP clients look at it; What data and which technology should I use for High Availability within my data center, across my data centers, BC/DR, as well as Backup & Recovery; taking the conversation from a tactical one to an overall conversation about strategy. 

We are looking forward to hearing more from our DPAD team at SAP Week Atlanta Feb 11th-12th & SAP Week Santa Clara March 4th-6th  in 2014.

My son just turned two the other week, so for the moment there is mostly talk about trains at our home, his two most favorite words: “Choo Choo” & “All Aboard”…In coming years though, I will definitely teach my son to play Chess, and leverage those lessons about the differences between strategies and tactics I was taught by my own father!
Meanwhile, I guess I will need to start by showing him Canadian Pacific Railway’s Private Cloud for SAP deployment with VCE Vblock :)

CP Rail

Want to virtualize SAP HANA with VMware? See what’s new!

With SAP TechEd Las Vegas coming up next week, as well as a large amount of our SAP clients asking us about SAP HANA with VMware; I asked my good friend Axel Streichardt to write a guest post on the topic. Axel is a thought leader around SAP with VMware in the ecosystem and got his finger on the pulse of VMware for SAP HANA. Axel is a fellow European (German) also a very cool dude that I enjoy working with at EMC :)

See Axel’s comments below on his perspective on this topic…

————-
Exciting news. We are getting closer to a fully virtualized Hana (or vHana, how I call it, my mother calls it even my grandma calls it) support for production from SAP and VMware. Both companies announced back in June the availability of virtualized Hana (vHana) and the strategy and timeline for running vHana in production in various flavors, such on a supported hardware appliances like Cisco and VCE, TDI (tailored datacenter integration) or even on commoditized hardware.

In case you haven’t heard, but EMC IT went live over a year ago with a fully virtualized SAP landscape, including app and database tier to reduce cost, minimize risk and increase flexibility. A couple of weeks ago, Mike Harding from EMC’s IT team discussed the Hana strategy and the plans to deploy vHana for production, another milestone in EMC’s journey to the cloud. Check out the replay of the webcast here.

Virtualization is undoubtedly mainstream and more and more customers deploying even top tier business applications, such as SAP, on VMware, because virtualized SAP provides tremendous business advantages over classical physical SAP deployments. Advanced flexibility, agility and cost are just a few of these advantages. Imagine hardware maintenance without disruption and live migration of running vHana nodes even under heavy load to avoid a disaster strike. VMware just released a demo video to underline the power of virtualization for vHana by moving a busy, running vHana node from one ESX server to another within minutes. No expensive standby hardware, no business disruption and maintaining all SLAs.

I am working on a more detailed blog on vHana to be released very soon with the full details on the various vHana deployment architectures and its advantages and why EMC is the number one storage and data management infrastructure for a truly, 100% virtualized Hana deployment.
—————–

Axel is about to launch his own blog on “Everything you need to know about SAP and Virtualization”, so I highly suggest you check it out as well as follow Axel on twitter @aggi_gi

See you at TechEd next week!

The SAP Big Data Bus: Are you on it or under it?

The picture is now crystal clear for me around SAP’s Big Data strategy for existing/new clients and for eco-system partners announced a few weeks ago.

Also very cool that SAP created an SAP Big Data Tour bus which is a mobile showcase of SAP’s Big Data solutions, which is staffed by experts and packed with demos. Wish I would have time to see it live earlier this month in SF! (Perhaps at TechEd?)

SAP Big Data Bus

SAP HANA is an incredible powerful solution to achieve real-time insight in order for your business to gain competitive advantages in various scenarios. The challenge I believe some have had…how HANA fits into a larger picture of a company’s structured and unstructured data strategy in and around their SAP deployments, which in some cases can amount to PBs of data.

The concept of “Temperature of Data” comes up in more and more customer conversations we tend to have. Where do you deploy “Hot”, “Warm”, “Cold” data and how do you manage those data sources with the various technology solutions such as traditional RDMS, In-Memory solutions, and solutions for unstructured data. How do you also provide a foundation to build out the right infrastructure (on-premise, off-premise, or a combination of both) for all this data?

The piece that I think becomes further clarified in this strategy is; how do you take it a step further and provide abilities and insights for how data can also move between each of the data sources based on policies driven by changing business climates.

Vijay Vijayasankar did a great job outlining this future SAP Big Data direction including the SAP HANA Data Platform in an SCN blog post the other week.

There is no question that Big Data represents a tremendous opportunity to gain competitive advantages for all kinds of organizations. Take for example, Americas Cup racing which is going on right now with the impressive AC72 Sailboats collecting massive amounts of data in real-time about conditions around them (winds, speeds, currents, and efficiencies) to improve accuracy and decision making to sail faster and more safely.

If you havent checked out the Human Face of Big Data project, spend some time getting to know the stories about how Big Data is impacting and changing the world to be a better place. Incredibly inspiring stories about Big Data use cases in various cultures and geographies around the world.

Another example is how our own Organization (EMC IT) is using a combination of Big Data solutions including SAP HANA to gain better insight and decision making showcased in last week’s SAP webcast “Why EMC IT chose SAP HANA”
If you take the time to listen to the webcast recording you will learn how EMC has taken critical business processes that use to take 2 hrs (and sometimes not complete at all) down to 5 mins in order to get better insight and execute better decisions in Real-Time.

So how does EMC fit into this SAP Big Data strategy?
- First of all, many of us in EMC’s SAP practice feel it’s a very sound Big Data strategy hence we tend to have these conversations with clients supporting this strategy.
- Secondly, when SAP clients embark upon a Big Data journey deploying SAP HANA, Sybase IQ, Hadoop, they will constantly look for ways to reduce the $ cost per/TB in each environment as well as in the overall data center architecture while maintaining the right SLA based on each business use case. Some of these deployments will be on-premise, some off-premise and some in a hybrid architecture…either way we believe EMC’s close integration with VMware (and being the parent company) will be absolutely key in this conversation as clients manage risk, cost and innovation.
- Third, another area that we find ourselves in customer conversations is around Data Center Readiness for Big Data including SAP HANA deployments. Clients are looking for rock solid HA, Backup/Recovery as well as Disaster Tolerance solutions which are areas that EMC has 30+ years experience and has laid the foundation for most SAP clients in their existing architectures.

EMC Accelerates the SAP Big Data Bus!

EMC Accelerates the SAP Big Data Bus!

If you are interested to learn more on this topic, attend our next SAP Week event in SAP’s Houston EBC Nov 5th-7th.

Participate in the EMC for SAP Social Media Summer Contest – #SAPonEMC

My good friend Jeremy Wonson (@virtualwonton) and I recently came up with an innovative social media idea of capturing EMC & VCE (with VMWare) for SAP customer success stories and then wrapping a contest around it…with the winner getting a spot on a Chad’s World episode.
We figured that we needed to have some additional fun this summer!

In so many twitter and blog posts around the world, it’s clear the value companies enjoy when running SAP on EMC and/or VCE Vblock, when virtualizing SAP, and when adopting a cloud strategy with SAP. In the midst of all this goodness, we wonder:

1. Who has the most compelling story of virtualized SAP running better on EMC storage or VCE Vblock with the biggest financial benefit or savings?
2. Who has the most compelling time to market story for SAP due to virtualization on EMC or Vblock?

Who can win?
Any SAP ecosystem individual (Customers, EMC, VCE, VMware, Cisco employees, Partner community: VAR, SI, SP, OS) can submit their customer’s story and win. Please remember that you must have permission from the customer to share the story (unless of course you are the customer :)). We aren’t regulating this, but if you win, part of the experience will be to participate in the Chad’s World episode with the customer. Since a success story is ultimately good press for your customers, and knowing the global audience Chad’s World attracts, I’m sure your customers will be more than willing to participate. We don’t require proof from you or the customer, but please be honest and be true to your good reputation. Once you email us the success story, we reserve the right to share your success story through a variety of social media outlets including our blogs and twitter accounts using #SAPonEMC. You and your customer will get good press whether they win or not! The most important thing to remember is that as much as we want to hear from the SEs, VARs or integrator, we want to hear from the customer even more! Any entries with customer quotes and customer input will automatically score higher in our compelling-stuff-o-meter.

To compete, email your success story in a format of a write up and/or short video to:
henrik.wagner@emc.com
These SAP success stories/videos will be posted on http://henrikwagner.wordpress.com
Winners will be judged in 2 categories:
1. Most Compelling financial benefit story
2. Most Compelling time to market story

The grand prize winner in each category will enjoy a spot together on an upcoming Chad’s World episode with a member of the customer’s IT staff. You and your customer will have the opportunity to discuss the success story of virtualized SAP running better on EMC and/or Vblock with Chad Sakac. With the global reach Chad’s World enjoys, this will be a great opportunity to showcase a customer’s SAP success story.
Get your stories in for the contest this summer and then towards the end of the summer in Aug we will announce the winners. Game On!!!…and dont forget to use the #SAPonEMC twitter tag

“Uber” Automate your SAP Landscape

There is a huge opportunity to modernize the legacy platforms that SAP customers are running on in order to: lower overall costs, increase agility, reduce risk, and free up funds for innovation to help customers gain competitive advantages in their respective industries.

In previous blog posts I outlined my thoughts on a Private Cloud for SAP strategy to accomplish these goals. Key foundations of this strategy are leveraging x86, VMware Virtualization and driving Automation and Orchestration in your SAP landscapes.

In recent keynotes, I have heard SAP executives tell the story about “why does it takes 35 clicks to order a new laptop from the company that you work for, yet it only takes 3 clicks on your mobile phone to order a pizza from Papa John’s”. Clearly there is an opportunity to improve business processes and drive automation in many aspects of businesses including IT organizations.

In the last few months I have starting to use “Uber” (“Everyone’s Private Driver”) for car services in my home town as well as on business trips. For those who don’t know Uber, they have an absolutely brilliant business model leveraging existing executive car services empowering them with technology that benefit the drives with higher utilization rate, the customers – with a reliable, easy to use and friendly customer experience and of course Uber (the company). When you have the Uber app on your iPhone, it literally only takes 1 click to order a car service, get picked up and dropped off, and payments are automatically taken care of. Your Uber profile works with the GPS on your phone and your pre-populated credit card info in the app…stepping out of the car to get dropped off without having to sign anything feels a bit odd the first few times, but then you come to appreciate the simplicity of the experience.

Papa John’s took our end user customer experience from 35 clicks to 3…Uber just elevated the Automation to 1 click. Can we do the same in the Automation and Orchestration of our SAP landscapes? Certainly there are policies and compliance requirements, which have to be followed when provisioning applications and infrastructure resources around SAP, however what if we were able to “Uber Simplify” these tasks? Perhaps we would be accelerating the paradigm of our SAP customers, thus allowing them to spend more budget on Innovation vs keeping the “lights on”?

I am very interested to see the progress of SAP Application and Infrastructure Automation solutions such as SAP’s NetWeaver Landscape Virtualization Management (LVM), VCE’s Vision, Cisco Intelligent Automation, EMC’s ViPR (Software-Defined Platform Strategy), VMware’s vCloud portfolio etc. to achieve these goals.

Let’s set a goal to “Uber Automate” our SAP customers’ application and infrastructure environments!