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SAP shines at Sapphire as bold leadership changes pay off

16 Nov 2012

German software giant SAP has now produced quarter upon quarter of positive financial results, with the business appearing to go from strength to strength.

At the firm's annual customer event Sapphire this year SAP executives were clear on the direction the business was heading. In fact in this year's press and analyst briefing with SAP co-chief executive Jim Hagemann Snabe, there was not one question that appeared to falter him or SAP's delivery plans.

SAP's big data analytics database HANA, now has 600 customers. This is a big jump from the 10 HANA customers the firm had last year, especially considering the relative immaturity of the big data analytics market. The analyst scepticism that once accompanied the launch of HANA has dissipated.

Questions that analysts asked once on whether HANA really existed, and then whether it could be sold to customers at a reasonable price point, have filtered out.

According to the customers listed by SAP at Sapphire this year using HANA, including a small gaming start-up and a concrete mixing company, the product is a success.

These customers also demonstrate that it is not only the largest, most profitable companies in the world that can afford to use HANA (SAP has refused to reveal the price point at which it is selling the software).

It is possible that the scepticism that surrounded HANA's launch emerged because analysts were accustomed to doubting SAP. It was not long ago that the firm was struggling to make headway in the cloud computing market.

And these struggles were actually far from unusual. While many software firms seem to easily latch on to the mobile and social trends sweeping the market, the cloud has induced hiccups in SAP as well as many of its competitors.

Five years ago, no one commended SAP on its ambitious plans when it came to the cloud. SAP had accepted the new architecture of computing long before the likes of Oracle and Microsoft, who famously ignored the trend for as long as financially possible. However SAP's forward thinking backfired when it could not deliver on its cloud vision.

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