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Sapphire: Business ByDesign - here at last!

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18th May 2010
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It's like waiting for a bus. You wait for ages, then two come along at once. So it is that just as SAP announced that its much delayed Cloud offering Business ByDesign is “currently available”, it went on to announce that a better, more functionally rich version would be available in a matter of months. 
SAP originally hoped to have 10,000 customers and be raking in $1 billion in revenue from BBD by now, but in the event only around 100 early adopters have been up and running to date.  That will change in July however when BBD is more widely offered in Germany, the US, the UK, France, China and India.
For SAP's new management team, it's clearly a relief to have BBD out in the market after SAP faced years of criticism and claims of catch-up from various pureplay Cloud applications firms.  “[BBD] is not a fantasy," said SAP CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe. “It's a real product. We wanted to perfect the infrastructure. You only get one chance."
While brash claims were made for BBD when it was first mooted, Snabe was cautious not to commit SAP to such bold predictions about the likely success of the offering now.  “We will measure our success in the number of customers running the software," he said. In addition, it is too early to provide numbers regarding future customer growth, he said.
"Building world-class, end-to-end software is not a simple task and requires lots of [customer] input," he added. "I wanted Business ByDesign to be perfect from an infrastructure and delivery point of view before we rolled it out in volume. I now feel confident SAP is capable of delivering the next version of Business ByDesign and that it is at the level of perfection where we need it to be.”
More to come...
With this first widely available version out the door, SAP has been quick to capitalise on this and announced a beefed-up next release due later in the summer. This version – 2.5 – will include an option for multi-tenancy which will be less expensive than the single tenant version.
Version 2.5 will also include in-memory analytics that can be accessed using Microsoft Excel; mobile device support; a user interface built with Microsoft's Silverlight technology; and a development toolkit that will enable partners to build extensions. "We are confident that BBD has been perfected and is now ready to compete and change the rules of the on-demand market," he said."BBD is the only on-demand application that has in-memory capability and mobility built in that will enable it to run on any mobile device with the lowest possible total cost of ownership.”
That toolkit will be critical to the success of SAP's intentions to build a robust partner ecosystem around Business ByDesign. "Partners have always played a key role in the success of SAP's mainstay business, and we're taking a page from our own playbook as we expand into the on-demand market," said Doug Merritt, executive vice president, On-Demand Solutions, SAP. 
"A diverse, thriving ecosystem is critical to ensuring fast time-to-value for customers in an on-demand world, with partners serving as trusted advisors, providing industry expertise and developing additional services. As we take this significant first step in the on-demand market, we are committed to empowering our partners with the opportunities and tools they need to ensure customer success.”
SAP is also taking a leaf out of Salesforce.com's book by planning to incorporate social collaboration tools, according to John Wookey, executive vice president of large enterprise on demand.  The product, Sales On Demand will have a "very Facebook-like" feel, according to Wookey, conceding that that the firm is following in the footsteps of Salesforce.com's Chatter push.  "It's good that Salesforce.com has Chatter. It's an interesting validation of the marketplace,” he said, adding: “The collaboration space is not a trendy thing. This is really opening up IT in a different way."
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