SAP CEO promises users clear product roadmaps

SAP co-chief executive Jim Snabe has said the company is “fully committed” to providing useful guidance on upcoming products for customers.

The promise came as SAP confirmed that its in-memory systems – which it is claiming are a revolution in data processing and analysis – would be available in 11 days’ time, on 3 December.

Speaking to delegates at the SAP UK & Ireland User Group Conference in Manchester today, Snabe said the German software giant “wants to be your reliable partner”, rather than releasing products without prior “clarity”.

Snabe said that since SAP took on two CEOs in February, the company has been in “transformation” and was working to rapidly “improve” guidance for its users.

“We know that without knowing what’s coming next, it is very difficult to make your own plans,” he said.

This year user groups reached a milestone with SAP, where the vendor agreed to provide roadmaps and respond to user group recommendations on upcoming releases. SAP has 38 million users globally, across 107,000 businesses.

Snabe admitted that there is “always a limit” to how much information can be revealed early on, but said roadmaps would provide plenty of actionable, clear information for businesses.

This year’s conference, the largest ever, is being attended by over 1,000 delegates. Snabe’s appearance at the event is seen as a major coup for the user group, which has a record of posing tough questions to the company from frustrated users on support, clarity of pricing and product plans.

In March, SAP revealed plans to introduce an on-premise, on-demand and on-device strategy, whereby users could orchestrate a mix of traditional, cloud and mobile deployments.

Snabe today confirmed that SAP is pushing ahead aggressively with that strategy. The acquisition of Sybase remains crucial to SAP’s mobile plans, and on-demand popularity was growing, he said.

Much of Snabe’s focus remained on in-memory systems, which are a crucial part of the on-demand strategy.

“It’s a very disruptive technology, and it changes how you store, analyse and retrieve data,” he said. “You can make these applications 10,000 times faster.”

In spite of SAP’s changes, Snabe insisted the firm was “not becoming a hardware company” and that it would continue to support applications from other suppliers because many customers “have a mix”.

He also moved to assure customers that products would only be released when ready for use in demanding environments. “We’re not making toys,” he said. “We know these applications need security, scalability and stability, and we’ll only release them when ready.”

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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