SAP CEO talks Oracle, Hana and life in Germany

Oracle is 'three years behind' Hana with its in-memory database option, McDermott says

SAP CEO Bill McDermott is going on two months as the first American to hold the company's top job, and has been quick to make his mark with a pledge to simplify the company's software, operations and interactions with customers.

Bill McDermott (2)
Bill McDermott at Sapphire 2013

He spoke to IDG News Service briefly on Thursday after SAP reported its second-quarter earnings announcement. The following is an edited transcript of that conversation.

IDG News Service: SAP wants customers to migrate to your Hana in-memory computing platform. Many now run Oracle's database. What does the arrival of Oracle's in-memory option for its database mean for your hopes for Hana, particularly given SAP is a big reseller of the Oracle database?

McDermott: Customers deserve choice and we believe in open markets and choice. SAP applications have run for many years on Oracle. That's an option that will remain to the customer. Oracle still hasn't launched [its in-memory option] massively to the market. They are probably three years behind. Yesterday I was with a large chemical company. They want to manage their fleets in real time. You can do that with Hana. These are things that no other database can do.

IDGNS: SAP has stopped breaking out Hana revenue in its financial results, instead only providing customer counts. Why?

McDermott: We're just too big a company to get to that granular a detail level. [Hana] is attached to everything we have. If it's a line-of-business cloud [application], Suite on Hana Enterprise Cloud, all these things have Hana embedded as part of the solution. We have 1,200 Suite on Hana customers. We have more than 1,500 startups building on Hana. We're still selling a lot of Hana as a big data platform. We now have 38 million cloud users. Every one of those 38 million users will be Hana users.

IDGNS: SAP hasn't made as much noise about its Sybase mobility product set lately, nor providing separate revenue totals. How's it doing?

McDermott: It's doing fine. What we see now with mobility, you have the Unwired platform. Afaria for device security. The applications we build on top for 27 distinct industries. You can drive everything to a beautiful user experience on a mobile device. We're not breaking that out either, because what isn't mobile?

IDGNS: Today SAP also announced a new organization focused on small and medium-size businesses. Will the Business ByDesign cloud ERP suite be pushed as part of it? We haven't heard much about ByDesign since October, when you announced ByDesign would be ported to Hana.

McDermott: ByDesign is on Hana now. We still have it in our product portfolio. We are also launching Business One on Hana worldwide as part of this division. [Editor's note: SAP completed porting ByDesign to Hana in February, but did not make a formal announcement at the time, according to a spokesman.]

IDGNS: You recently established a residence in Germany, which is an important move given the company's culture and the fact you're the first American to be sole CEO of SAP. How do you like it so far?

McDermott: I love it. I moved in here Tuesday night. I've already entertained the supervisory board at my home. I'm very excited to operate out of Germany. It'll be my primary corporate base. It depends on how many flights they put me on. When I'm done I'll add it all up and then we'll know.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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