SAP Week Feb 2013…largest EBC event in the history of EMC!

For a few years we have been putting together SAP Week events in our west coast Santa Clara Executive Briefing Center (EBC) that have gained popularity over the years. These SAP Week events have been well attended with SAP customers, partners and SAP related resources from EMC, Cisco, VMware, VCE and SAP. Last week we just hosted another SAP Week event in Santa Clara with 30 different SAP customers over three days, where each customer could attend for one full day. The theme of the SAP Week event was SAP Cloud and SAP HANA.
EBC Picture

Most SAP customers brought on average 6-7 attendees, some as many as 10 attendees. Seven of these customers are in the Fortune 100. This number of SAP customers in our EBC actually made SAP Week Feb 2013 the largest EBC event in the history at EMC. Not a bad record to break considering EMC has been around for 30 + years…I was inspired to see the turnout and thought this accomplishment for EMC was pretty cool 🙂

So what does that mean? We clearly have EMC events with more than 210 customers attending (30 clients x 7 per client = 210) at for example EMC World, EMC Forums etc. The difference at SAP Week is that this is not a conference where customer attends vendor presentations in a large group format…SAP Week was 30 different individuals, one day of executive briefings with tailored agendas for each client based on desired SAP related topics.
We like to start the day in joint keynote sessions with all the customers in one room. This year we had a SAP SVP of Technology (Wed & Thurs) and a SAP VP of Technology (Tues) kickoff keynote sessions with SAP strategy as it relates to Cloud/Virtualization and HANA. Both of them did an incredible job to start the day on the right path. We then had a customer present as a 2nd keynote session with Columbia Sportswear (Tues) and EMC IT (Wed & Thurs) walking through their Private Cloud for SAP and HANA (EMC IT) deployments. The day is followed by individual breakout sessions and discussions on topics that were relevant to each SAP client.

SAP Week Feb 2013 Intro

One of the cool things about SAP Week is obviously by bringing in a large number of SAP customers in one place over 3 days, we can get the very best speakers and facilitators available from EMC and our partner organizations (including SAP)…but the most valuable aspect of SAP Week is the opportunity to have SAP customers meet and talk to each other about similar challenges, initiatives and requirements that they may have. We do this during the lunch user group session and at dinner each night. One great example of this customer to customer collaboration which I was fortunate to see happen right in front of me on Wednesday night during dinner; two different large SAP clients talked about their current projects and realized that they were both multiyear Greenfield SAP rollouts in the process of completely redesigning their business process using SAP with a go live day within a few months from each other. Both these SAP clients are building out Private Cloud for SAP architectures and it turns out they are also working with the same Systems Integrator on the project, including deploying similar database architectures for high availability for their SAP ERP rollouts. Guess they were interested in chatting?!! Connecting these two different SAP customers which are located in different cities during SAP Week, in addition to offering them a great briefing experience with top technical resources, is what SAP Week is all about! Helping our SAP customers in their journey above and beyond us explaining why and how other SAP customers use EMC and VMware technologies…is why I get out of bed every day. Hopefully these two clients were as inspired as I was by being able to connect the two of them, and more importantly I hope they stay in touch to compare notes as they go live on their projects, and then work on optimizing their SAP environments.

Another very valuable aspect of SAP Week for the 2nd time in a row now is our friends from Columbia Sportswear speaking as a keynote about their Private Cloud for SAP deployment. Their ability to leverage cloud architectures to drive incredible time-to-market is game changing. They have truly turn their IT organization from an organization “keeping the lights on” to providing real value to their business…in some cases able to move 3-4x times faster than their business can. Our friends from Columbia can tell you all about how they have accomplished this if you get a chance to see them at Sapphire in Orlando.
I also have to give a huge thanks to Bill Reid from EMC IT Project Propel, who graciously agreed to come out to the west coast for 3 days to present and meet with customers in person. Bill is the Director of Architecture and the Global Technical Lead on the Propel project. One story that Bill spoke about in his keynote was the importance of being able to provision a copy of his entire SAP Production landscape less than 3 days (around 70 VMs including the build-out of the SAP systems which drives around 450K SAPS), only months before his go live (in the 27 months project) due to the requirement of building out another performance environment to fix an issue. Normally, in a physically SAP environment, creating a full Production landscape would take weeks. He shared that due to the Private Cloud for SAP architecture based on Vblock systems which he has deployed, he could pull this off in 3 days and save the project from delaying its go live date. Bill also joked about this ability to execute lighting fast to meet this business requirement this close to the project go live date…saved his job!

Another favorite moment during SAP Week was in one of the customer sessions with one of our colorful VCE SAP resources (Mr. Socks) walked through why Vblock for SAP. A Director of IT from one of the customers who attended stated that while this is great, he has built out his own Private Cloud for SAP architecture with various individual components…CIO turned to his Director of IT and said, “then why is the architecture you put together not nearly as efficient as a Vblock?!!”. Just priceless!
We also had one of our SAP HANA technical resources, Christoph Streubert, spend some time with a large healthcare provider. Before this SAP Week event, this customer had not considered deploying HANA in the near future. After Christoph walked through the value that HANA can bring to a customer including pertinent use cases that can transform this healthcare organization to provide better value to their customer…and by doing so, providing better healthcare for their patients…the CIO said “Let’s do it…I want one”. #Puremagic

It was also very cool that many of our Vblock for SAP user group members came out to SAP Week…looking forward to seeing you guys at Sapphire Orlando!

Lastly, two SAP customers that put great color on our event was a very large beverage distributer from Mexico City (who we celebrated by serving their very recognizable beer during one of the dinners) and a very prominent Italian Designer who came all the way from Italy. Some of our great staff at our Santa Clara EBC was trying to figure out how to say “employee discounts” in Italian 🙂
If you want to get experience at an SAP Week event, you don’t have to wait long since we have two SAP Week events running the same week at the end of April in Hopkinton, MA and Cork, Ireland. SAP Week East & SAP Week EMEA. Come join us to also get inspired…and collaborate with your peers!

VCE announcing “Unleash Simplicity” (…for SAP)

Yesterday VCE Company announced a complete refresh of their converged infrastructure systems family; purpose-built solution for virtualized workloads (called Vblock). With this announcement VCE continues to display their clear leadership around innovation for their existing and potential future customers. The theme of this announcement was “Unleash Simplicity”, which embodies the fundamental value proposition of VCE’s solution to drive acceleration of time-to-value (rapid deployments) while reducing complexity and TCO of IT infrastructure. For those of you who are not aware: VCE is a joint venture between Cisco & EMC with investments from VMware and Intel which has achieved great success over the last 3 years as discussed in the announcement from EMC this past Wednesday: VCE Vblock demand hits Billion dollar run rate three years after launch with over 1,000 Vblock systems shipped. I was fortunate to be in the Santa Clara area for a few days this week, at the hotel where the VCE Customer Advisory Board was taking place prior to the announcement. Had some great conversations with VCE executives and customers about the accomplishments that been achieved over the last few years with Vblock for SAP as well as what this new announcement means to SAP customers.

The Vblock platform has proven to be a great choice for SAP customers which I have pointed out in previous blog posts. This Vblock product refresh will enable SAP customers to gain even better metrics when deploying a purpose-built integrated infrastructure stack to optimize SAP workloads. For SAP use cases the new Vblock320 and Vblock720 is enhanced with greater configuration flexibility for compute, network and storage. These two platforms now have twice the capacity and performance capabilities, allowing SAP customers to scale-out to the highest levels of SLA requirements.

VCE also announced Vision Intelligent Operations Software to simplify management of Vblocks’ with capabilities around improved intelligent discovery, comprehensive awareness and open API integration with third party management tools. VCE executives described VCE Vision as a next generation dashboard that a customer would expect to have in a new car.

In addition, as part of the announcement yesterday, VCE released what they call a “specialized system” certified for SAP HANA which is a purpose-built Vblock for HANA workloads “enabling rapid and efficient deployment of this powerful in-memory computing and database platform with unsurpassed scale and performance”. This is intriguing for a couple of reasons…
SAP HANA potential customers and partners often tell us they want to make the technology (appliance) decision a “check box”. We also continuously hear that customers want a HANA appliance solution that can be trusted, simple, and flexible.
At this point SAP requires hardware vendors to come up with certified Pre-packaged “HANA appliance” (based on the current HANA PAM). In my opinion there is nobody better equipped to execute on these principles than VCE’s HANA appliance since VCE has a 3-year track record of building converged infrastructure solutions (for SAP ERP and other workloads) that is a purpose-built, pre-architected, pre-integrated, pre-tested and standardized solution. A perfect fit for SAP HANA 🙂

So what are the analysts saying about VCE’s ability to build converged infrastructure solutions:
Gartner names VCE market share leader for integrated infrastructure systems
IDC study from 2012 says VCE Vblock Systems enable 5X faster deployment, 4X less staff resource time, 83X better availability and 3X lower cost

With this VCE announcement yesterday I am truly inspired to “Unleash Simplicity” with over 30 different SAP customers next week in our Santa Clara EBC for SAP Week. Not only do we have powerful customer success stories to share around Private Cloud for SAP and SAP HANA…but now we also have a refreshed solution set from VCE to hopefully allow us an opportunity to do an even better job of helping customers reduce TCO, improve SLAs, reduce Risk and ultimately improve their end user’s experiences in their SAP journeys in 2013!
Unleash Simplicity

Getting Inspired at SAP FKOM in Las Vegas last week

Not only did SAP finish 2012 with a big bang, last week at FKOM they also walked through a 2013 strategy, updated solutions portfolio and sales energy going into 2013 which was beyond anything I have seen in the past. I was inspired by the positive energy at the event…and of course by catching up with some good friends in the SAP ecosystem with whom I very much hanging out.
It’s incredible to watch how fast SAP moves and strives to drive innovation for their customers to transform their organizations. Of course there is the desire to sell more software licensing, however, it is crystal clear that an SAP account team is measured on delivering customer value. In my opinion the only way to do this is to first invest in understanding their customers businesses in various industry verticals and then leverage vehicles like Design Thinking and Value Engineering to help customers transform. SAP sales leaders urged their sales teams to find ways to use “Co-Innovation to help customers meet their aspirations”.

The overall GTM strategy is also crystal clear: HANA (…and HANA & HANA :)), Cloud and Mobile

Rob Enslin and Vishal Sikka walked through very large HANA customer wins and unique use cases that are changing the way companies do business. The Jan 10th Business Suite on HANA announcement was also a massive step forward in SAP’s HANA strategy which many of us are still trying to wrap our arms around to understand how In-Memory computing will transform how customers run both OLAP and OLTP on the same platform. It’s very interesting to see SAP offer SAP ASE included in a purchase of business suite…like John Appleby states “2013 – the year of the SAP Database”. Vishal also said that seeing Business Suite on HANA announced was in his mind compared to “Walt Disney one day in the past drawing a mouse and then seeing a $100B company being built”.
My light bulb moment during FKOM was when Vishal spoke about the speed of Intel’s innovation and the co-innovation SAP is doing with Intel. He walked through the use case where his 100 node HANA cluster, with a per node cost of $40K, added additional nodes within 6 months of the initial deployment, and the new per node cost went down from $40K to $32K while per server performance increase based on a new chip set. That’s close to a 20% price reduction with improved performance within a 6 month period…with this being a fact: Can someone tell me why anyone would ever deploy UNIX platforms for SAP going forward? You may hear me use this story in presentations and conversations going forward 🙂

SAP states that Cloud is revolutionizing how to manage People, Suppliers and Money. It has become very clear for us at EMC that when SAP speaks about Cloud they are not talking about the Private Cloud, Public Cloud or Hybrid Cloud for SAP solutions we evangelize for our SAP customers. SAP is speaking about their ability to host business application and processes in a Public cloud using their offerings from their SuccessFactor and Ariba portfolio. It will be interesting to see how the private cloud for SAP journey that many SAP customers are making in 2013 will impact their decisions to move application workloads to the SAP Public Cloud model.

It’s also clear that SAP is committed to their Mobile strategy. The number of mobile users keeps increasing and the opportunity to provide value to those end users based on having them connected to the central “Crown Jewel” SAP system is clear.

SAP made a big point of communicating that they are embracing the Partner community, which has been said many times before, the difference this time from an infrastructure vendors perspective, is that I believe the SAP sales teams are starting to understand the value of working together on HANA campaigns and Cloud/Virtualization projects…which was very refreshing. With close to 20,000 EMC platforms for SAP customer bases, together we can make “wine out of water” transforming our joint customer’s businesses!

There are a few key people in the SAP ecosystem that I am fortune to know and got a chance to catch up with at FKOM as well. Some of these people are extraordinary technologists, visionaries, innovators, thinkers… They challenge the status quo in everything they do. Some of them apparently have a shining light on them at all times.
To quote one of them from last week saying: “let’s go for big bold ideas to change the game”…I was of course smiling ear-to-ear and reminded myself that the only limits that exists are based on my own ability to imagine what the future can be like!
Next off to drive massive change in 2013. Game on!…Who is in?!!

Finding the inspiration to write…after attending Sapphire Madrid

Around 2 years ago I came across Simon Sinek’s work (Ted video and book) which altered my approach to business in a positive way. Some of Simon’s core values that he discusses in his work and gives examples around are: “Challenging the status quo”, “Inspiring” and “Innovation”.

Every week now I tend to evaluate where my time is being spent and how to formulate my ideas. I find myself incorporating these core values more and more in my professional dealings with customers, partners and my peers…trying to be a “Change Agent”.

Challenging the status quo. Life is a ton more fun if you constantly look for ways to do a better job in solving the problem you are already solving today, or finding ideas to create new opportunities and markets.

Inspiring others (or being Inspired): I get drawn to people and ideas that inspire me. And there is nothing more rewarding than when people around you give you feedback that you have inspired them to do something that impacts their life.

Innovation is the reason I work in technology. The pace of innovation in the technology industry is incredibly fast and seems to have accelerated in the last few years. I have an opportunity to constantly learn something new and be a part of transformation around me. There are some top organizations that do an incredible job innovating technologies (such as Intel and SAP with HANA) and they tend to constantly stay a few steps ahead of their competitors.

This past week I was fortunate to attend Sapphire Madrid for the first time after attending SAP TechEd and Sapphire in the U.S for a few years now. Not only did I have a ton of fun (the laugh “meter” went off the scale many times during the week), but most importantly, I was inspired every day which is the reason I decided to finally start writing a blog. I want to share my thoughts and experiences with others that may be interested.

At Sapphire Madrid I was inspired:

To meet and talk to EMEA based SAP customers
To have conversations with key leaders in the SAP partner community
To meet more of my EMC peers based in EMEA
To finally see SAP announce that HANA supports running in a VMware environment (non-Prod)
To work together with Cisco, VMware and VCE folks to impact SAP Cloud and HANA strategies
To have the opportunity for a short conversation in Swedish with SAP’s Co-CEO Jim Hagemann-Snabe (can’t recall meeting a Dane who speaks Swedish that well)
To hear SAP’s CTO Vishal Sikka mention the SAP TechEd Las Vegas “HANA Real-Time Race” in his keynote on Thursday afternoon…even though the HANA Race in Madrid didn’t happen. (I will not mention the piece of me personally thanking Vishal for doing this 🙂 )
To eat and drink amazing Spanish favorites including some top Ribera’s and Rioja’s with some amazing Pata Negra and Steak Tartars. I also learned that it’s possible to get certified in cutting Pata Negra in a 5 day course.
To watch an authentic Flamenco show in downtown Madrid at Corral de la Moreria with incredible craftsmanship by the artists
To see SAP customer: McLaren showcase their cars on the show floor

From time to time I will continue to write to share some ideas and experiences around what I am fortunate to come into contact with at EMC around the SAP ecosystem community that makes me Challenge the Status Quo, be Inspired (or Inspire others) and be part of driving Innovation to make the world a better place…or at least the technology industry 🙂