What's coming at SAPPHIRE Now?

Ray Wang, CEO Constellation Research and I take a slightly irreverent view of what's going to happen at SAPPHIRE Now.In one sense there won't be any surprises.

Ray Wang, CEO Constellation Research and I take a slightly irreverent view of what's going to happen at SAPPHIRE Now.

In one sense there won't be any surprises. SAP has been telegraphing its in-memory and HANA technologies for a while. The SAP Unwired Platform has also been getting a good amount of attention in the mobile space and of course Business ByDesign is never far from everyone's thoughts.

On ByDesign, several of us had a senior level meeting late yesterday and the news coming out is that SAP believes it can scale up into larger enterprises with this solution. Peter Lorenz, EVP and corporate officer who heads SME told us there is no reason why ByDesign cannot scale to 20,000 users. That seems piffling when measured against SuccessFactors deployments at Siemens rumored to run up to 400,000. But then SuccessFactors is only running a small slice of functionality and that only has peak demand at certain times of the year. ByDesign on the other hand is meant to run the whole business.

The company SAP should fear is Workday. They have deployments running hundreds of thousands users in HR and are gearing up to unleash cloud based financials. That's two legs of the three legged ERP stool. That third leg comes from Salesforce.com which already owns the CRM space and with which Workday has a close relationship.

Rumors circulating by 'those close to events' suggest there may be a significant announcement involving Amazon while others are muttering about something happening with Twitter. In one sense these should be no brainers in our fashion driven IT world. We'll see.

What we do know is that SAP is now entering its second SAPPHIRE with co-CEO's Jim Snabe and Bill McDermott. The score card will be listened to with intense interest.

When asked by a senior executive how I feel about SAP today I said: SAP is like the old alcoholic that had its rock bottom in 2009. It's in recovery and doing well. But as with all alcoholics, they're only one drink away from the next binge. In SAP's case that means renewing its love for big deals at the expense of the burgeoning SME market it has tried to woo with ByDesign. That dangerous 'bottle' comes in the shape of HANA where pipeline is said to be running at the rate of $10 million a week.

As is becoming increasingly common, the Tweetstream will give its verdict. You can follow it here.

Disclosure: SAP comp'd my travel. I am a member of Constellation's Board of Advisors.