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…

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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.
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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.

Getting Inspired and “Transformed” at EMC World while preparing for SAP Sapphire next week

Having a ton of fun at EMC World 2013 in Las Vegas having great conversations with customers, partners and internal EMCers, many of which are “change agents” in the SAP Ecosystem and make an impact for all. Not only am I seeing how our SAP customers and partners looking for new ways to Transform, but also how EMC is stepping up to help customers truly “Lead Your Transformation” which is the theme of the conference!
Had an opportunity to present our SAP Cloud & HANA strategy at the Global Partner Summit on Monday afternoon followed by conversations with those partners on their SAP business, which was very cool!
Also had an opportunity to chat with John Furrier & Dave Vellante on the Cube Tuesday afternoon about topics that I am very passionate about including finding new innovative ways to enage and aligning with customers & partners in the SAP Ecosystem as well as leverage Social for collaboration. We talked about the impact of SAP Week at EMC’s EBC over the last few weeks, how we have change the model from pitching our SAP customers products a few years back to discussing and collaborating with our SAP clients using customer-to-customer engagement models to focus on HOW EMC Solutions can help our SAP customers solve their Application and Infrastructure challenges and requirements as their Transforming their SAP environments. Also spoke about the idea we came up with during dinner with Mike Harding (SAP Architect on EMC IT Project Propel) about having him document EMC IT’s HANA journey on twitter using the @putitonHANA twitter handle. Just a brilliant new way of communicating valuable information to the Ecosystem. We need to be doing more cool things like that! 🙂
Check out the Cube video for more here…

I am now Inspired to head to SAP Sapphire next week in Orlando to continue my own Transformation journey as well as contuning contributing to the journey of our SAP ecosytem customers and partners!
But before that…Bruno Mars is rocking the house tonight at EMC World 🙂

This has to be another EMC record…April 11th 2013

Growing up in Stockholm Sweden I don’t think I ever heard the phrase “Go big or go home”. Perhaps it was somewhere along my journey in competitive tennis playing in college for the Wildcats that I became familiar with the phrase.

One of our goals is to be more relevant to our SAP customers, Ecosystem partners and internal EMCers in every conversation we have. By sponsoring and speaking at 4 different SAP related events globally in one day: April 11th, hopefully we get closer of achieving this goal. It also must be an EMC record! Perhaps even a SAP record of having a partner sponsoring and hosting SAP customer in 4 different locations (?). I need to check with my SAP marketing friends on this. Either way…Pretty cool 🙂

EMC is a sponsor and speaker at the SAP Cloud & Virtualization Week 2013 (#SAPvWeek) – April (9th-) 11th at SAP Labs in Palo Alto

EMC is a sponsor and speaker at the SAP High Tech Forum, April 11th at EMC Hopkinton, MA Briefing Center

EMC is a sponsor at the SAP Media Innovation Day April 11th in Universal City, CA

EMC is hosting customers at the SAP Week briefing event in Sydney, Australia on April 11th with speakers from SAP, EMC, VMware, VCE and Cisco

We are also passionate about our current ability to be relevant to our SAP customers around Cloud and Big Data including HANA. Last week I was fortune to hear one of Steve Lucas’ SAP keynote’s talking about SAP’s ability to help customers “innovate” and “move faster”. He also made the statement that the only way this can be achieved is to reduce the TCO on current SAP deployments in order to free up budget to deploy solutions like HANA, mobility, social solutions etc. With EMC and VCE’s current solutions portfolio, I don’t think we have ever been in a better position to help our current and future SAP customers achieve these goals and align closely with SAP’s strategy around Cloud and HANA. Take for example EMC IT’s transformation which displays incredible metrics and proof points on these topics. Check out these results published today in EMC Corporation IT Performance Report
If you attend one of the SAP events today on April 11th then you will get a preview on how we can accomplish this together!

What’s the next record we can break? Perhaps the # of days in my SAP runs better on EMC & VCE social media twitter campaign!

April 2013 is turning out to be “SAP Month” at EMC; Check out these events!

Looks like EMC will be painting our buildings “SAP Blue” in the months of April…and with the number of events EMC is sponsoring and speaking at SAP facilities in April, perhaps SAP should be using “EMC Blue” colors for their logo 🙂

We just came off one of the largest EBC events in the history of EMC with SAP Week at the end of February 2013. I looked at my schedule for Q2 to notice that we have a ton of SAP related events at EMC facilities as well as sponsorships at SAP events in SAP facilities coming up in April. How do we make sense of each event, when & where are they happening, and who should attend them?

SAP Technology Services Conference – April 1st-2nd at SAP Labs in Palo Alto, CA & April 4th-5th at SAP in Newtown Square, PA
SAP is hosting their first annual Technology Services Conference at the SAP Labs in Palo Alto on April 1st-2nd and at Newtown Square on April 4th-5th with five different tracks focused on delivering services solutions for Technical Implementation & Upgrades, IT Architecture & Content Collaboration, Cloud Platform & Virtualization, Testing Services and IT Security, Technical Integration & orchestration. EMC and VCE are co-sponsors and speakers at this SAP hosted event with our “Transforming SAP Landscapes building out Private Cloud for SAP Infrastructure” presentation. For loyal blog readers I may be able to help out with tickets ($650.00) for the 1st few that send me a note.

SAP Cloud & Virtualization Week (SAP vWeek) – April 9th-11th at SAP Labs in Palo Alto
SAP has been hosting this very popular event for many years which gives SAP customers and partners an opportunity to learn how to achieve greater business agility and TCO savings with SAP technology and solution offerings by effectively leveraging cloud and virtualization technologies. EMC is a sponsor and speakers at this SAP hosted event with a “Private Cloud for SAP” presentation.

SAP High Tech Forum, April 11, 2013 at EMC Hopkinton, MA Briefing Center
The SAP High Tech Forum is an SAP led event which happens to be hosted at EMC’s Hopkinton, MA Briefing center. At this event you will you will hear from visionary business experts and executives how the new economy is affecting IT and corner office, and how you can capitalize on those trends to innovate in your business. You will also learn how other companies are harnessing the latest technologies to power growth and profitability. EMC will have a presentation slot with Tony Pagliarulo VP of IT at EMC on “EMC’s SAP Transformation“ (Project Propel for SAP Cloud and HANA).

SAP Media Innovation Day April 11th 2013 in Universal City, CA
The SAP Media Innovation Day is an SAP led forum event hosted in Universal City for the Media and Entertainment industry. EMC is one of the main sponsors at this event and will have resources available for SAP related conversations. At this event you will learn about recent advances in SAP solutions for the media and entertainment industry, SAP’s vision for innovation, best practices for managing the emerging digital supply chain to deal with the sudden increase of digital assets sold and distributed around the world.

SAP Week events in APJ – Asia Pacific & Japan (One day customer event)
In Mid April our friends in APJ will be hosting a set of SAP Week events in the following cities:
Sydney April 11th
Melbourne April 12th
Singapore April 15th & 16th
Bangalore April 18th & 19th
Beijing April 23rd & 24th

The SAP Week concept of having top resources available on various topics and foster customer-to-customer conversations on SAP application and infrastructure topics, has proven to be valuable and has grown in popularity. SAP Week APJ will have representation and presentations from EMC, VMware, VCE and SAP. Check out our recent SAP Week Santa Clara event summary which ended up being a fun event for customers, partners and EMCers. Please contact Sheena Chen or John Clifford for further details on these events and to RSVP

SAP Week East – April 23rd-25th at EMC’s Hopkinton, MA EBC facility – (One day customer event)
End of April EMC is taking the SAP Week event concept out to our headquarters outside Boston for the first time. There has already been tremendous feedback with a large number of RSVP’s from interested SAP customers. The concept of bringing in the very best SAP subject matter experts from EMC, Cisco, VMware, VCE and SAP from around the world, with SAP customer presentations on relevant topics, EMC IT presenting our SAP transformation as it relates to Cloud and HANA as well as fostering an environment to encourage customer to customer discussions during the day and at dinner…keeps proving to be a valuable formula. Come check out SAP Week East…to learn why SAP Week in Santa Clara was the largest EBC event in the history of EMC. Ken Saul from our Global SAP Practice team is running point on this SAP Week East event and can share more details.

SAP Week EMEA – April 23rd-25th at Cork, Ireland EBC facility – (One day customer event)
My fellow Swedish friend and collogue, Joakim Zetterblad, has been putting together SAP Weeks in EMEA for a few years now out of the EMC Cork, Ireland briefing center. Just like the US events have grown in participation, I am hearing that customers have had great feedback from attending previous events including the one in June 2012. It doesn’t surprise me that Joakim and his team put on a great event, he is an incredible professional business executive with a customer first mind set. One of the keynote presenters at this year’s EMEA event is Bill Reid from EMC IT Project Propel who keeps being a highlight for customers. Please contact myself or Joakim Zetterblad for further info on this event.

Since the topic of this blog post is April being an SAP Month at EMC…I will not mention EMC World May 6th-9th in Las Vegas or EMC’s presence at SAP Sapphire May 14th-16th in Orlando, FL

In February we hit a big milestone with the SAP Week event…let’s break another record in the month of April with the most number of SAP customer engagements in one month in the history at EMC! Come to learn, collaborate and have fun with us in April. Can’t wait to write a summary of these events at the end of April 