How Accurate Was Computerworld on Run Simple and S/4HANA?

What This Article Covers

  • Checking with Experienced Database Resources
  • The Typical Coverage Available

Introduction

The SAP Run Simple is a widely derided joke in SAP circles. In this article, we question how much ComputerWorld got right regarding Run Simple.

Quotations

“Nothing has earned a reputation for head-banging complexity among IT professionals more than ERP, but as enterprise-resource planning leader SAP tries to recast its image with the slogan “Run simple,” there’s no guarantee that customers will buy it.

SAP hammered the simplicity mantra home in virtually every keynote, conversation and bit of signage at its annual Sapphire user conference last week. Still, the fact remains that enterprise platforms like SAP’s are anything but simple, and neither are their customers. SAP sells to large, multifaceted enterprises, and implementations are a big deal, often requiring outside help.”

At this point, the article makes it seem that it is going to head down a truthful path. The Run Simple program was in exact opposition to how SAP’s software actually works.

“Most organizations don’t buy SAP because they have simple problems to solve,” said Geoff Scott, CEO of the Americas’ SAP Users’ Group (ASUG). “You purchase it because you’re a complex organization with complex business processes.”

ASUG’s Independent from SAP?

ASUG is in SAP’s pocket, and this is an idiotic justification why SAP’s software is co complicated to use and so expensive to implement. It is false because there are many things related to SAP’s complexity that has nothing to do with the organizations that buy SAP, but instead to SAP’s design. However, ASUG only makes statements that are designed to defend SAP.

“It is nice to see that SAP acknowledged that it hasn’t always been a poster child for simplicity, and that clients have struggled in navigating the many offerings and resources available in this huge company,” said Monique Hesseling, a partner with Strategy Meets Action. But it will take time and effort for SAP to overcome the perception that it’s big, complicated, and sometimes difficult to work with, she added.

SAP did not acknowledge this with their Run Simple marketing program. Rather, they stated that customers could run more “simple” with SAP than with competing solutions. This seems to be a projection on the part of Monique Hesseling.

“She does see signs of progress, though, particularly in SAP’s delivery to insurance clients, which are the focus of her firm. Maintenance and service tickets get escalated and dealt with significantly faster than in the past, she said.”

SAP’s Support

This is false. SAP’s support has been in long-term decline as we covered in the article What to Do About SAP’s Declining Support. 

“SAP also responds faster and more accurately to requests for proposals, and she has found greater openness and interest in understanding the customer within the company at all levels.”

It is difficult to know what this means.

“Some of the credit for the pared-down approach goes to SAP’s new S4/Hana in-memory platform, which has simplified much of the technological foundation. By eliminating fixed database aggregates and redundancy, for example, the new system can reduce a company’s data footprint by a factor of 10, SAP says.”

This has nothing to do with the previous statement. One is a statement about being open and understanding the customer, and the transition is to a statement about a technology, which then launches into a nonsensical term called “in memory” which we covered in the article How to Understand Why In-Memory Computing is a Myth.

The Data Footprint Reduction?

The claims of data footprint reduction are also false as we cover in the article The Secret to Not Talking About The Cost of SAP HANA.

“By performing both transactional and analytic processing in the same system, the technology promises throughput that’s between three and seven times faster than the traditional SAP implementation. Analytics can be as much as 1,800 times faster.”

This is not what benchmarking on HANA indicates, as covered in the article HANA as a Mismatch for S/4HANA and ERP. SAP has no benchmarking or other data points to support the claim of analytics being 1,800 faster.

“Overall, SAP cofounder and chairman Hasso Plattner said in a keynote at the conference, the goal is to enable the “boardroom of the future,” where an entire corporation can be run from a smart watch or phone.”

We have already covered this as a “pants on fire” inaccuracy in the article Did Fiori and S/4HANA Actually Run on a SmartWatch?

What Compression?

“You’ve taken a 20TB database and compressed it to 10TB or 5TB — I get that,” he said. “But to us, simple is also about faster and easier configuration, getting people up to speed faster and getting changes into production super fast.”

What is SAP’s obsession with compressing databases? The answer is that HANA is priced per GB. But overall the topic of database compression is not very relevant to non-HANA databases. Oracle 12c and IBM DB2 have no size limit. Database compression does not translate to business value.

“That’s where I want to hold their proverbial feet to the fire,” Scott said. “SAP, if you can deliver on that promise, wow.”

Scott works for ASUG, which is a proxy for SAP. Scott will not be holding SAP’s feet to the fire on any claim.

“SAP needs to make software easier to buy and consume, with modernized deployment options, and it also needs to transform the services market so that software is faster to configure, without as much need for specialist consultants, agreed John Appleby, global head of SAP Hana at Bluefin Solutions.”

This has been proposed for decades, but nothing SAP has introduced, from ASAP to RDS has changed the complexity, implementation duration or cost of SAP implementations. For multiple articles on previous items that were presented to accomplish these objectives see the Brightwork research list A Study Into the Accuracy of SAP.

The Reliability of Jon Appleby?

“S/4Hana is a big step in the right direction,” Appleby said. “The user experience is modern and user-centric, the functional configuration is guided and therefore much faster, and deployment options are varied and meet the needs of modern businesses.

Appleby believes that most customers would embrace the paradigms of S/4Hana if they could, but some may have found their decision delayed by business events or other IT operational issues.”

Jon Appleby is one of the least reliable sources on SAP. He not only has repeatedly been found to provide highly inaccurate information on SAP products, How John Appleby Was So Wrong About His HANA Predictions, but he is Hasso Plattner’s “goto” guy to make massively exaggerated claims about SAP products.

The Reliability of Steve Lucas?

“Steve Lucas, global president of the SAP Platform Solutions Group, acknowledges the challenges associated with promising simplicity in a highly complex technological landscape.

“What we learned after 40 years of building apps is that the stack for building apps had become unreasonably complex,” he said.”

In 2015 Steve Lucas had worked for SAP for a short time, and he came to SAP through an acquisition. Therefore, this quotation seems a bit deceptive. But like Appleby, Steve Lucas has a long history of making inaccurate statements as we covered in the article Analysis of Steve Lucas’ Article on What Oracle Won’t Tell You About HANA.

In our analysis, Steve Lucas not only misleads listeners but does not understand many of the topics on which he speaks.

Conclusion

This article receives a score of 3 out of 10, for the acknowledgment that SAP’s applications are complex.

Brightwork Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

This article and no other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle and SAP. Brightwork does offer competitive intelligence work to vendors as part of its business, but no published research or articles are written with any financial consideration. As part of Brightwork’s commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research, the company’s business model is driven by consulting services; no paid media placements are accepted.

HANA & S/4HANA Question Box

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References

https://www.computerworld.com/article/2923212/enterprise-applications/sap-touts-simplicity-but-customers-still-live-in-a-complex-world.html

How Accurate was ComputerWorldUK on SAP Cofounder Hasso Plattner Defending S/4HANA?

What This Article Covers

  • Article Quotes
  • On SAP Not Being a SaaS Competitor
  • Hasso Answers with a Personal Attack
  • Selling the Future
  • Hasso Making Excuses for Poor Cloud Uptake
  • Why Companies Will Use Hosted for S/4HANA
  • SAP Leonardo

Introduction

On July 28, 2017 ComputerWorldUK wrote the article SAP co-founder Hasso Plattner defends S/4HANA cloud strategy, explains Leonardo and says Mark Hurd isn’t a “software guy”

In this article we evaluate the accuracy of the article.

Article Quotations

On SAP Not Being a SaaS Competitor

“The cofounder of the German software giant SAP, Dr Hasso Plattner, took to the stage at the Sapphire conference this week to talk about the company’s latest Leonardo product and why he sees it’s next generation ERP S/4HANA’s future as residing in the cloud

Mark Hurd, the CEO of arch rival Oracle criticised SAP’s cloud strategy back in December. As reported by Diginomica he said: “Their cloud strategy, which is most often referred to by the term S4/HANA, is fundamentally a hosting strategy. It’s really taking their core ERP on-prem app and hosting it in a data centre. It’s really the physical movement of a computer from here to there..

“That’s not cloud. That’s not SaaS. So I’m not sure that we really think of them as a core SaaS competitor.”

Yes, that is actually true. This lack of multi tenant capability and the fact that S/4HANA, as with ECC will require customization for the vast majority of companies that use it means that it will not be able to meet the technical definition of being cloud. It will be hosted. SAP uses the terminology “private cloud” to obscure this fact, but private cloud is simply hosted, and offering hosted ERP is not what Wall Street wants SAP to be moving to. This is covered in the article. Why S/4HANA is a Poor Fit for the Cloud.

Hasso Answers with a Personal Attack

“Plattner had earlier stated that “in the cloud is our version to aim for” when it comes to getting customers onto its next generation ERP solution S/4HANA, which works on top of the in-memory HANA database.

Later on, during a Q&A session, he responded to the criticism from Hurd by saying that Oracle is a competitor and that Hurd is “not a software guy”, before going into detail for how he sees SAP’s S/4HANA cloud strategy playing out now that the ERP system can be run on the three most popular public cloud providers (Google, AWS and Azure), as well as SAP’s own private Enterprise Cloud offering.”

So that is a personal attack rather than a counter argument. What Mark Hurd said happens to be true.

Selling the Future

Now S/4HANA can be run on three popular could providers (although this contradicts SAP’s earlier strategy of competing and beating AWS and others), but that does not address the problem of what happens when the system requires customization. Will Google, AWS and Azure offer a hosted/private cloud for S/4HANA? If so, won’t the price have to increase?

This is a common strategy by SAP generally to describe what “can be done” rather than what is likely to be done, or what makes sense to do.

Hasso Making Excuses for Poor Cloud Uptake

“Plattner, who can only make strategic recommendations as chairman of the supervisory board at SAP, admits that the company is still in the process of adapting to the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. “For forty five years the customer has operated the system, large systems. We do it now together with the customers and SAP is learning how to operate and we are getting better and better and we are getting profitable now,” he said.

SAP’s total cloud subscriptions and support revenue grew 34 percent year-over-year to €905 million (£769 million) in its Q1 2017 results.”

Why is support revenue included in this number? SAP’s support revenue is far more than €905 per quarter. What is SAP’s subscription revenue, that is the relevant question here. Support revenues apply to both on premises as well as cloud sales, so quoting the support revenue is deliberately misleading.

Why Companies Will Use Hosted for S/4HANA

“Although Plattner says that SAP now gives customers the “full spectrum” of cloud ERP options, he naturally believes that running S/4 with SAP is the better option for customers. “HANA Enterprise Cloud has more traditional flexibility for the customer, in the HANA public cloud there are more restrictions,” he said.”

Right, most customers will need to customize S/4, so they will need to move to the HANA Enterprise Cloud. The HANA Public Cloud is only usable for companies that have no customizations. Isn’t this basically what Mark Hurd said at the beginning of this article?

SAP Leonardo

“Ever the engineer, Dr Plattner calls Leonardo a “bounding box”. He explained: “It is a box around a set of objects, so this is a box around a set of tools to build a system which then, with machine learning algorithms, finds insights which we can attach to transactions.”

Plattner reiterated that what makes SAP’s approach to AI and machine learning unique is that customisers have all of the important business data right there underneath them, in the SAP transactional systems, and they don’t have to ferry data outside of core systems to run algorithms out at the edge.

He said: “It is the age of AI but we do it inside, we do not run around with our valuable data and go from system to system.” Plattner added that keeping the data in one place is the best way to safeguard it.”

There is really no evidence that Leonardo is anywhere right now. This is covered in the article Why SAP’s Leonardo Seems so Fake. SAP has shown no evidence it is even in the game for AI or machine learning. And SAP may have a different approach to these things, but where is the evidence of any payoff?

Conclusion

This is a standard article by ComputerWorld, and its parent company IDG. It allows SAP to say anything they like, and they offer no filter. ComputerWorld simply serves as a repeating mechanism for SAP. They may be paid by SAP, but they also are compensated by online ads. This would not necessarily be a problem, but they don’t seem to put any effort into writing articles.

Brightwork Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

This article and no other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle and SAP. Brightwork does offer competitive intelligence work to vendors as part of its business, but no published research or articles are written with any financial consideration. As part of Brightwork’s commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research, the company’s business model is driven by consulting services; no paid media placements are accepted.

HANA & S/4HANA Question Box

  • Have Questions About S/4HANA & HANA?

    It is difficult for most companies to make improvements in S/4HANA and HANA without outside advice. And it is close to impossible to get honest S/4HANA and HANA advice from large consulting companies. We offer remote unbiased multi-dimension S/4HANA and HANA support.

    This article is free, we do not answer questions for free. Filling out this form is for those that have a budget. If that describes you, just fill out the form below and we'll be in touch asap.

References

[S/4HANA: What does SAP’s next generation ERP mean for customers? | Applications | Computerworld UK](http://www.computerworlduk.com/applications/s4-hana-what-does-saps-next-generation-erp-mean-for-customers-3596790/)