SAPs Agassi Confirms Oracle Killer Plans, Dishes on SOA

Q&A: Shai Agassi, president of the product and technology group and a member of SAP's executive board, discusses the company's plans with in memory, ERP 2005 and SOA.

Theres been a lot of activity at SAP over the past couple of years as it ramps its Enterprise Services Architecture roadmap. But the company is, in a sense, taking a step back so that customers can catch up.

At its recent TechEd conference Sept. 12-15 in Las Vegas, SAP essentially announced that it is revamping its entire release schedule.

Scrapped are plans to develop mySAP ERP (enterprise resource planning) suites to follow the latest version, mySAP ERP 2005 released in June.

Instead, SAP plans to hold ERP 2005 steady for the next five years, releasing any new services, composites applications or functional upgrades in enhancement packages. At the same time, SAP is in the midst of a quiet revolution, should its plans for in memory technology take off.

In August Senior Writer Renee Boucher Ferguson broke the story that SAP may indeed have stumbled onto an Oracle database killer with its in memory capability.

Boucher Ferguson sat down with Shai Agassi, president of the product and technology group and a member of SAPs executive board, in Las Vegas to discuss the companys plans with in memory, with ERP 2005 and with SOA.

I wrote about the BI Accelerator previously and the implications of the in-memory technology are that this could be huge. Is this a real Oracle killer on the database side?

By the way, youre the only one that picked that up. You are absolutely right. Because, you see the largest databases in the world are data warehouses, and those get the most complicated kinds of queries that they need to process as fast as possible.

Theyre extremely hard to maintain, and they use the most CPUs. And the way Oracle prices databases, theyre the most expensive. Thats where the big revenue comes from for them. If you take data warehouses, even if its just the 30,000 SAP customers, and you say, you dont need a database, as a matter of fact what were giving you saves a tremendous amount of database CPUs, youre right, you dont pay Oracle. And the issue here is not do you pay Oracle or not—or if were going after Oracle or not—were just introducing a new way to manage massive amounts of data.

But it is going after Oracles fundamental business?

I think there is a fundamental problem in the way weve done data warehouses in the past. We had to pre-imagine almost every query that the user would send. The job went effectively to DBAs to create the aggregates and DBAs had a lot of work to say, this query came in, it took too long, why was it too long, let me understand the query. Its a very, very complex problem.

We just abused the relational model, because the storage engine was the wrong engine to perform these queries. Weve changed it now to a different storage engine. As a result of that, every query that comes in gets immediate, fast execution.

It changes not the role of the database as much as the data warehouse administrator. That is a huge shift. You looked at just the market for the Oracle database. Im looking at how much money is spent on the restoration of performance on data warehouses and human beings. Its bigger than the database.

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