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Transcripts from select JonERP.com podcasts are posted on this page. We do not transcribe all of the podcasts our our site, but all the transcripts we do have available will be posted here. For text "overview briefs" of all the podcasts available on JonERP.com, check out our podcast descriptions blog.
Jon Reed Interviews Krishna Kumar: Podcast Transcription Print E-mail
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How TechEd 2007 Changed the SAP Ecosystem: Podcast Transcription
Jon Reed with Krishna Kumar, CTO and Founder of Enterprise Horzons
Hosted by Jon Franke, News Editor, SearchSAP.com
Podcast Interview Date: October 12, 2007
Download Podcast (Must Be Registered and Logged In!)

Jon Reed’s Introduction: After TechEd ’07, I had the opportunity to sit down with Krishna Kumar of Enterprise Horizons and do a podcast wrap of the conference. Due to his expert-level understanding of SAP technical trends, Krishna was the perfect person to break down the impact of TechEd ’07. One of the things that sets SAP apart is the passion of those who are part of this so-called “ecosystem.” That’s certainly true of Krishna, and when you read the transcript or listen to the podcast, I think you’ll get a sense of how uniquely insightful Krishna is and how well he can break down SAP technical issues in ways we can all understand.

Another benefit of talking with Krishna at this juncture is that he was able to provide his take on the Business Objects acquisition which took place right after TechEd. This led into a further discussion of his TechEd presentation, which I personally thought was the best session I attended at the entire conference.

The reason? Not only did Krishna break through some of the misconceptions about eSOA, but his company specializes helping SAP customers utilize eSOA “mashups” that provide a real return on investment – something that is often missing from the eSOA conversation. So in this podcast, Krisha explains the value of spatial analytics, and how BI-driven mashups can provide a whole new way to combine ERP data with information from best-of-breed content providers.


Jon Reed: Hi, welcome to our latest podcast on SAP consulting trends. I’m your host, Jon Reed, and joining me is our special guest, Krishna Kumar, who is CTO and founder of Enterprise Horizons. Today, we’re going to talk with Krishna about his take on TechEd 2007. We’re going to get his outside-the-box ideas on SAP and Enterprise SOA, and we’ll also get an inside look at how Krishna’s company is impacting the SAP ecosystem through its own SOA mashups. 

This podcast is hosted by my site, JonERP.com, and was made possible by a joint collaboration between my site; B2B Workforce, an SAP Premiere partner; and SAPtips, delivering mastery-level knowledge. 

It’s great to have a chance to sit down with Krishna today. I had the privilege to publish Krishna’s work when I was running SAPtips. His piece on debugging SAP programs remains one of the top 10 most downloaded SAPtips articles of all time. Krishna has a deep SAP technical background, and I find him to be a real visionary when it comes to how to stay on track with SAP’s evolving technology.

Krishna’s presentation on eSOA mashups at TechEd 2007 was actually the best session I attended. He had a real knack for breaking down SAP technical concepts in a way we can all understand, and I think you will find his views on SAP’s changing product line interesting and insightful. So, Krishna, with that, welcome to the podcast.

Krishna Kumar: Thanks, Jon.

Reed: So, Krishna, let’s kick off by giving our listeners a sense of your SAP background and then what your current role is with Enterprise Horizons.

Kumar: Thanks, Jon. I appreciate this audience. My name is Krishna; I’m the CTO and founder of Enterprise Horizons. Enterprise Horizons has been around for close to five years now, and we specialize in pioneering eSOA work in the field of SAP, mashups, analytics, BI, and the works.


Reed: And at TechEd you had the opportunity to contribute to a range of workshop sessions on these topics as well as make your general observations of the keynotes. I want to start with the themes of TechEd, and then we’ll look a little more closely at what your company does. Could you tell me what your general reactions to TechEd were? What did you think were the highlights of this year’s conference?

Kumar: This year’s TechEd was singularly the biggest attendance. I’ve been in TechEds for close to five years. I thought that this TechEd was well attended. There were a few interesting deviations from the traditional TechEd that I’ve been to. First and foremost, the absence of Shai (Agassi) was noticed, and I’m pretty sure you noticed that, too, Jon.

Reed: Yes.

Kumar: And also let’s not forget that NetWeaver dominated this TechEd like never before. What is even more interesting was it was not just NetWeaver, but eSOA and SOA and the fact that everything in SAP is now going to be exposed as a service and consumed and published as a service. To summarize, this was a TechEd of a different age from the standpoint of focus on eSOA and the NetWeaver technology platform, but very little was said about the cold business horsepower, which I thought was a little bit of a surprise.

Reed: Can you say more about that?

Kumar: If you look at SAP’s historic strength, SAP is probably the best business software that’s out there. So SAP has been around for close to thirty years now, and the power of SAP lies in the fact that it has got this rock-solid order fulfillment back end, this really powerful financial system, this very, very nimble APO supply chain initiative - but what really came across in this TechEd was not the underlying, underpinning business capability, but more so the ability to consume these applications as services.

And I think I largely agree with the SAP philosophy of exposing its product as eSOA apps, but fundamentally, your eSOA is only going to be as good as your business horsepower, right? So what I would have expected SAP to have said in this TechEd is, “Yes, of course, eSOA is the recipe for building the business processes of tomorrow.” And I would have expected SAP to have come across saying, “Here is the business value of implementing an eSOA solution.”

If you’re talking about order-to-cash, of course the SOA plumbing is one thing, but the ability to actually assemble the different order fulfillment components and to be able to assemble them in a manner where it makes business value - that was something that was missing in this TechEd.

Reed: That’s interesting, and we’ll get back to some of those eSOA themes shortly. Were there any other news announcements that came out of the conference that you thought were particularly compelling?

Kumar: The one big announcement, which was not necessarily a TechEd-related announcement but probably came a week after that, was the BO (Business Objects) acquisition by SAP. Now, I thought that was pretty significant, given the size of the acquisition (SAP historically has never done acquisitions greater than five hundred million dollars). Six billion dollars, which probably constitutes nine percent of SAP’s valuation, was huge, even by general industry standards, let alone the conservative SAP standards.

But that was an acquisition of monumental consequence to the eSOA initiative. One thing that I do see happening in the coming years - or, I would say actually months, for starters - would be the migration of eSOA to analytical applications. Now, this is something that has historically always been lacking in the SAP ecosystem. We have eSOA that does order fulfillment, we have eSOA that does order-to-cash, supply chain - but very little eSOA focused around analytical apps. With the Business Objects acquisition, you’re now seeing an extremely nimble front end, and you will see a lot of business applications being exposed as a SOA app.

So picture this: We could have a vendor and a customer participating in the transaction. Let’s say this vendor is the wholesaler, and you have a customer that makes consumer products - let’s say shampoos. So for a very tight supply chain to be established, you need the vendor to be able to run analytical applications on the customer side, to be able to perform the analytics in a manner where the vendor has instant visibility of the different business KPIs that influence the whole supply chain.

So my point here is when you have SOA applications getting migrated to the analytical platform, you will see a super-intelligent ecosystem, not just within firewalls, but spanning firewalls. And I do see a major thrust in SAP going towards the paradigm of building virtual ecosystems, both from a transactional perspective, as well as from an analytical perspective.

Reed: Do you think SAP runs the risk of facing some of the challenges Oracle has had with its acquisitions as far as integrating the code base?

Kumar: Only time will tell. For a fact, the code base that Business Objects has is pretty different to the code base that SAP has. SAP, regardless of its newfound Java strategy, is still fundamentally in ABAP code. If you look at the SAP code base, I would probably assume there’s 100 gigabytes of code running ABAP, running traditional, good old ABAP tables and ABAP code. Business Objects represents the object-oriented scheme of things. Business Objects represents the ability for people to build nimble reports on the fly, which has not been historically SAP’s change-management-heavy style of coding.

So that would be definitely one area which would be of tremendous interest to the community to watch in terms of how easily BO is integrated into SAP’s ecosystem. But I would definitely see Business Objects approached as a stand-alone entity; it’s going to continue that way for a few years, and you’ll see the amalgamation happen maybe a couple of years down the line.


 

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