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SAP Co-Innovation Lab (COIL)

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Sometime shortly after SAP TechEd & d-Code Berlin, my manager asked if I would be posting a year end blog. It seemed like a good idea when he asked and one that had in fact already occurred to me to do. It is of course now December 31st meaning I have less than a day to compose, edit and publish such a post. Covering the topic is pretty straightforward but doing the bloggy thing of including pictures and links is what takes time and only encourages procrastination. Nonetheless, I’m going for it as there is no question of it being a good thing to have a look back through one’s rearview mirror and reflect a bit on the days and activities past. 

At this time of the year we assess where we are by examining
where we've been and what we've done.  We then try and determine if it all lines up to our KPIs assigned at the beginning of the year. I want to focus more upon what I view as key yield from the efforts within the context of co-innovation. Since blogs and whitepapers past can fully account for much of the what, how and why of each COIL project, the intent of this short year-end summary is simply to refresh our view of the breadth of topics we explored and to offer a few call outs and shout outs relating to who and what drove our project work and the subsequent results. It’s also worth commenting upon what best describes COIL efforts (and its continuing aspirations) to measure the effects of its knowledge brokering between and among project teams, SAP and ecosystem business manager and subject matter experts.

In most instances approved projects do not always come into our lab with all of the right domain experts in tow to fulfill all of the skills necessary to affect a successful project. COIL technical project development includes a fair amount of knowledge brokering to fill such gaps and for getting the right people on to the right project at the right time. Through developing so many diverse co-innovation lab projects, we've come to understand what of efforts and behavior must be encouraged and nurtured to drive project success and it is through COIL knowledge brokering where we discover what contributes most to successful project outcomes.

It is a combination of continuously working both formal and informal networks within SAP as well as across different ecosystem partner channels that we are able to help teams to become complete in gaining access to the skills and talent that underscores successful co-innovation. We know this knowledge brokering to be exceptionally valuable and it remains an ongoing effort to learn more precisely how to both quantitatively and qualitatively measure its value. As we enter into 2015 we will be taking extra effort identify the different knowledge brokering channels invoked at the start and during project work and the degree of frequency these channels are used to secure knowledge and resources.

The Projects and the Work

There were roughly 45-50 projects proposed to COIL PAL in 2014. (“Proposed” means that a COIL Project Request Form was completed and submitted for consideration). This number is even higher if were to include in the count all of the many initial and informal discussions occurring well before a PRF gets submitted to COIL.  From the total number of PRF-based proposals, 32 projects closed in COIL PAL this year. Globally, (I've yet to see the final report) COIL is tracking towards something north of 150+ projects completed across all of its ten locations. As we look at the yield from COIL Labs in North America, Central Europe, South America, Russia and Asia Pacific, we find successfully completed projects representing all of SAP’s favorite topics of Cloud, Analytics and Mobility.

Multiple projects at COIL PAL pursued by both lab sponsors and project members have spawned ongoing project work spanning Big Data, real time analytics featuring SAP HANA with Hadoop, SAP HANA with Customer Activity Repository (CARs), SAP HANA and IoT, SAS on SAP HANA, cloud security, application and network optimization and prediction, geospatial and graph engine, not to mention the important topic of SAP HANA HA/DR. It’s also worth mentioning that COIL PAL also played host to a variety of partner and partner customer events like SAP Fiori and Lumira workshops and the SAP HANA Operations Summit which took place just before the holiday break.

Project Highlights

Some of the project highlights that are still top of mind for me and stand as call outs for interesting and compelling project work in which each garnered a lot of attention from the start, then throughout the project as well as for the final results:

To begin somewhat chronologically, it was around this time last year that Intel introduced Vormetric to COIL.  Intel was already partnering with Vormetric and viewed working with them at COIL as a good opportunity to not only assess the degree of overhead that might stem from encryption of log file data for SAP HANA but to also characterize performance between Westmere and Ivy Bridge processors where positive results would be of value to the launch of Intel’s latest chip-set. In the beginning, there were lots of inquiries and interest into how the proposed project aligned with SAP HANA and its already well-established security architecture. Others took interest to more fully understand the target cloud-based use cases and the tests performed. I appreciated the strong support and interest expressed from a variety of operations and product management teams and how they find coil project of value.

The positive results from this project were shared through COIL and Intel whitepapers and became of real interest to cloud customers in banking, predicated upon use cases sourced from Virtustream. There was also early internal interest among security and cloud architects across HEC, SuccessFactors and Ariba teams to learn more about the results and what other potential follow on project work might be of interest.

One of my favorite aspects of COIL is to see such spillover effects derived from a single co-innovation project. It was rewarding to see so many new connections being made among all of the participants across SAP and within its ecosystem. Connections that may never had occurred without the initial work done at COIL.  This was important project work contributing to a richer understanding for what comprehensively drives secure cloud solutions. It is compelling to observe how such ongoing ecosystems-based innovation project work accelerates innovation and in turn helps meet and exceed customer expectations.

Another COIL PAL highlight was to finally become fully equipped to enable a series of SAP HANA HA DR workshops with the Hana Technical Academy team. This one took considerable time to get off the ground if for no other reason than the need to ensure that a million plus dollars’ worth of hardware and software to support a specific topic is time and money well spent.  With the business case finally realized, this project has now come to represent some exceptional collaboration with EMC and Cisco with a number of customers validating that SAP HANA clearly stands up to expected HA DR rigors.

Customers attending these 1 to 3 day workshops, can easily be shown an enterprise class representation of 3 Hana node clusters representing two physical locations and dive right in to the workshop content to obtain the proof points needed as opposed to the uglier alternative of trying to conger the time, effort and expense for all sides to do the same as a discrete on-premise POC. As an additional observation there was clearly a lot of value derived from SAP and partners in terms of the overall tacit knowledge exchange and collaborative spirit contributing to a quality workshop experience for the customers in attendance. I’m looking forward to seeing more workshops beginning early in Q1.

Another good call out for the year is for the ongoing project work pursued by CA & Cisco to explore application and network optimization and using different data feeds from each of these layers in the stack to drive predictive analytics on SAP HANA meant to predict downtime and increase up-time.

This ongoing project work continues to establish this end to end solution and I was thrilled to finally get the chance to deep dive on the topic in preparation to interview project participants from both firms on a segment of SAP TechEd & D-code Live. I’m impressed not only with what is a comprehensive solution predicated upon the use of real time analytics on Hana, but also at the depth of knowledge exchange, collaboration and the deeper trust relationships that form up between the participants when worthwhile project work is pursued and continues to evolve and become further refined with each completed phase.

It was also quite impressive to see Clark, Wes, Maik, Keith Renu, Yemun and team do some serious work early in the year with DSSD and demonstrate viable scale up SAP HANA cloud architecture. SAP working with Intel and DSSD, worked to develop the next generation of HANA Cells for the SAP cloud. The work done leads the way to large scale in-memory computing.  It was always an enjoyable experience to witness the profound and geeky moment the first time anyone saw the thin, sexy, techie flash drives in the DSSD chassis.

We saw even more flash based storage project work with Violin Memory and its 6200 array systems who subsequently laid claim to SAP HANA product certification via ICC as part of their COIL project efforts to validate significant performance improvements in cache swapping, writing logs, delta changes and backups.

I must absolutely call out the fine project work led by former COIL teammate and now SAP Alliance Manager for Citrix Systems (Roland Wartenberg) to explore SAP Visual Enterprise 3D with Citrix Systems and Nvidia. I've co-presented this project with Roland a few times this year (COIL, Citrix Synergy and SAP TechEd & D-code) and am excited to see the work progress to new ideas like surrounding the creation of 3D catalogs to augment purchasing and supply chain systems. As a former COIL guy, I always enjoy working with Roland as his projects can be expected to include a cool factor.

COIL has seen a small number of projects in the recent past focused on healthcare and we would love to see more such projects enabled by our lab as the projects and the various use cases are always interesting.  If you've never seen the now fabled Medicare Mapper App for the IPad from Critigen, then you should stop reading (bookmark me!) and go take a closer look. It runs on SAP HANA here in the COIL and Critigen continues to drive new project work featuring SAP HANA and geospatial with ESRI which we look forward to seeing more of in the New Year.

Adjacent to this project work on the same topic of geospatial, we saw some amazing project work coming from our SAP NS2 colleagues who also did some amazing jaw dropping demos. Matt Zenus tells me 2015 “will be the year of geospatial” and from what I’ve witnessed so far from just from this lab, I believe him. SAP NS2 will now be leading new project work featuring a brand spanking new 16 way 12TB scale up UV 300 HANA Server from SGI- our newest COIL project member. When I look at this rack now spun up here in COIL PAL I just know 2015 is going to be nothing short of amazing with respect to co-innovation in the SAP ecosystem. 

The final call out for the year goes to the RedHat OpenShift project work done here in the lab. Christine Puccio and Sherry Yu, both long time COIL practitioners have both worked tirelessly to drive an ongoing effort and engagement to tap into developer communities through OpenShift with the RedHat OpenShift cartridge for Sybase ASE, IQ, SQL Anywhere and SAP HANA to provide a P-a-a-S environment for customers to build applications on a Sybase database platform featuring on demand access.

There were so many cool projects in 2014. I've likely failed to rightly mention some of them here but our hats are off to everyone that graced our presence in the lab this year. We especially wish to acknowledge the generous contributions and participation from our longtime and esteemed sponsors, Intel, NetApp, Cisco and vmware who all equally play a role in the vibrancy of COIL and the important projects pursued with SAP across the COIL global network.

Events of interest-

In between all of the hours, days and weeks of hands on, heads down project work, there were plenty of events where COIL either hosted or participated. We had Co-Innovation in Action Sessions in COIL PAL; we had presence with GPO at its Partner Discovery Center at Sapphire Now, its InfoZones at SAP TechEd & D-Code plus a very good turn-out for our half day Geospatial Workshop with SAP NS2. The Mfg Conference in Hanover Germany for Industry 4.0 featuring a COIL Integrated Factory demo, the GeoInt Symposium in Tampa, and Citrix Synergy in Pasadena.

The most notable event perhaps was Fujitsu joining COIL as its newest sponsor! A warm welcome to the Fujitsu team and we all look forward to the future projects you will propose and enable in 2015. 

COIL Organization-

A few changes popped up organizationally this year that are also worth mentioning. Prior to the departure of Vishal and for a number of weeks following, COIL fell under Abdul Razack and SAP Custom Development. With Abdul’s departure this fall, followed by our exec lead Chris Turner taking up a new role within GCO, COIL and the Hana Partner Engineering team were reorganized within Tanja Rueckert’s Products and Innovation Services team.

Our long time and beloved leader for nearly all of COIL’s nearly 7 years of existence, Dr. Axel Saleck returned from a summer sabbatical only to pass his COIL baton on to Rudi Held. Axel has left an indelible mark upon the entire COIL team and SAP. With great significance, he helped to establish the fact that SAP is an undisputed thought leader on the topic of global co-innovation and built the COIL global network that stands today.  While it won’t be the same without this man wearing his signature cap at our helm, it’s a very lucky and fortunate team who ends up being led by Axel- good things will surely happen.


With Rudi as our new lead, the COIL team now joins our ICC and PQ teams under Nandagopal Prasad where we will all collectively work to grow the SAP ecosystem and drive its unbridled vibrancy.

External perspectives on ecosystem-based innovation-

To further expand upon what it means to help grow the SAP Ecosystem and to co-innovate with partners, some recent research I've been doing (in all of my spare time!) with Dr. Tammy Madsen, Santa Clara University indicates that what we do at COIL is rather unique with respect to a firm establishing what are known as ecosystem dynamic capabilities. Through our recent study of COIL Project Data since 2007, we explored the value both SAP and COIL partner participants (sponsors and project members) derive from having access to both supply and demand side SAP resources. We were delighted with being given the opportunity to present this work at the first annual Worldwide Open Innovation Conference held earlier this month in Napa, CA.

Our findings and observations garnered a great deal of interest and for us points to a clearer external view of just how valuable co-innovation is and is becoming; particularly with respect that so many solutions well up from recombinant innovation. I intend to keep exploring this further as we work to publish our work and delve into other dimensions such as the valuation of knowledge brokering. Sir Isaac Newton’s friend was certainly on to something when he wrote to him in a personal letter about the importance of “standing on the shoulders of giants” as the way in which new ideas are carried forward. We witness it over and over again with each each project team using resources and rearranging them in ways to make them more valuable. This is the bigger and more complex piece of the innovation engine.

Gearing up for 2015-

Of course I cannot wrap up this summary without mentioning the Internet of Things. There was project work done on the topic in COIL PAL with long time project member OSIsoft as well as with many relevant Industry 4.0 projects which our COIL colleagues in other locations enabled. There will be a major emphasis on IoT in 2015 and building off of an already formed stream of proposals, ideas and opportunities regularly brought to our attention for some time now,

Here in COIL PAL we will pilot a co-Innovation Kickstarter IoT program where we have the first 2 projects already in development (more on this in January).  We are also excited to see the COIL PAL lab emerge at the beginning of the new year with a fresh new look and feel- designed to support the most optimal ways to engage with partners whether it is the consistent application of design thinking principles to Co-Innovation project work or to tell the story of co-innovation solutions designed to address must have experiences for customers.

So let’s drop the ball in Times Square and get on with it shall we? Co-Innovation Happens Here!

It was great talking to you in Las Vegas last week.  Check out the materials we presented there, and feel free to contact me if you want like to know more about SAP Co-innovation Lab, the great place to co-innovate with SAP.


1. A prezi presentation on who we are and what we do, how to engage with us, what kind of projects we do, and what our members say about us.


Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 2.04.58 PM.png


2. A few highlights of the projects we are working on - check out the slide deck here.

No doubt that COIL had a great time at TechED && d-code Las Vegas last week. Let me share with you some of our glory times and a couple of scary moments.


What're glory


Starting from Monday, the by-invitation-only pre-event cohosted by COIL and our members SAP NS2, Critigen, Luciad, and SGI on  "Exploring Creative SAP HANA Solutions with Geospatial and Graphing" attracted more than 30 customers and partners and generated great interest on the NS2 Realtime Situational Awareness RDS solution incubated at COIL.


Then came Bjorn's keynote Tuesday morning.  Our sponsor Intel and member SGI appeared on stage with Bjorn, and the Apigee demo Bjorn and Ian ran on stage for about 20 minutes was live from a landscape hosted at our Palo Alto computing center.


For the rest of the event, we talked to hundreds of customers, partners, and SAP colleagues at the COIL pod in the show floor. It's really tiring to stand in the pod three day long, but it's definitely worth it. Many of the conversations there are leads to more co-innovation projects later on. As matter of fact, immediately following TechED, we have already started this week working with a strategic partner and a US customer on projects at COIL helping Q4 2014 deal closings.


sinan_david_kevin at COIL pod.jpeg


More than a dozen of our members exhibited in Las Vegas, and it was great to see COIL logos everywhere in the show floor. Just to mention a few - Intel, Cisco, VMware, Netapp, Virtustream, CA technologies, Redhat, Citrix, SGI, .... As you can see in the picture with our old friend Roland Wartenberg, our members take a big pride in their COIL membership:).




Of course, it's always worth the 15 minutes to check out the official TechED Live interview conducted by COIL. This year, David did a great job with our friends Rickey King and John Stone  talking about our CA and Cisco joint project Application-Centric Optimization for SAP HANA and Applications that Run on It

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 12.53.47 PM.png



and what's scary...


I usually don't tell what's behind the scene, but as Halloween is around the corner, it won't hurt to share a few scary moments at our Fishbowl (nickname for our computing center) in Palo Alto while our members were shining at Las Vegas.


No matter how well we thought we were prepared for a critical event, you never know where trouble may come from. This time is the air conditioners.


Before we left for Las Vegas, we checked and made sure everything were running in perfect condition in the Fishbowl. However,  Monday morning around 7 am pacific time, 2 hours before Bjorn's keynote where a demo was expected to run live from COIL, we got a notice from the SAP facility and security office in our Palo Alto campus that both of the 2 HVAC units at our Fishbowl were in trouble and the temperature was above 90 F degrees and running higher, some of the servers and network switches were starting to shut down. I have to say it's the right thing for the machines to protect themselves from being damaged by the overheat, and we all know that we are a crash and burn lab, but burning at the first day of TechED where we support the keynote and dozens of our members' live demos at the show floor? That's not a good timing.


Thanks to the heroic work of my colleagues Roger Guedes, Juergen Opgenorth, David, and the SAP Palo Alto facility team, four mobile cooling units were rushed in to the Fishbowl to keep the temperature low while the vendor was working on the AC.

COIL_AC diaster.jpeg


We survived the event very well, and actions are being taken to make sure we stay away from such scary moments.  The picture above was taken by Roger last week. Rudi Held, our global COIL head thought it looked like "an octopus from outer space had invaded our fishbowl", I have to agree with him. Of course, we will keep it for our Halloween decoration, but never for future events.

For those who have visited sap.com website recently, you may have noticed that our logo has been quietly changed to gold letters with transparent background. You may have seen the white letters with golden background variation somewhere too.

SAP_new-LogoTL.jpgSAP Logo_white_yellow.png

The square+triangle shape of our old logo is gone now.


Not sure if I am in love it yet.


Still remember when I joined SAP in early 2000, we went through a big change to our logo at that time.  As a result, we had the "smiling A" with a merged square and triangle shape for the last 10 years or so. At that time, most of us liked the idea to make our appearance a bit more "softened" by changing from a plain A to a smiling A.


Time flies, ten years are gone and it seems time again for another change.  This time, we are moving completely out of the blue and the shape, the only commonality with the old logo is the three letter "SAP".


Is it too much?  I don't know. I am still used to the well recognized iconic blue logo, it's probably not the mostly likable shape, but when people see it, they immediately know it's SAP, the software company. With the blue background and the iconic shape, it's hard for people to miss the "German seriousness" of our culture, and for many of our customers, it means the "good engineering" of our products.


Well, it may be just me, I would assume the gold/white theme is more appealing to the younger generations?


The funny thing is how fast time can erase the trace of changes. I did a search for SAP logo in Google images. You know what? It's hard to find a copy of the grand-old "not-smiling/plain-faced" logo any more.  Among hundreds of smiling A's, I only found one straight A logo in the archival.


No matter what's changed and what's going to change, for good or for bad,  maybe it's time for us to save a copy of our "oldies" before they disappear even from Google searches. 

SAP Logo_light blue.png

SAP Logo_blue.png

SAP Logo_blue_square.jpeg

If you have more variations of the old-old logo, please send to me a copy or add a link to the comments section. Hopefully together we can keep a trace of our logo from time to time. It would be interesting to look back in 10 years again and see how things have changed with the company we love and respect so deeply. 


Oh, BTW, the three letter SAP is not only used by our company. In the same Google search, I came across a few other logos with "SAP" letters.  It reminded me that I actually saw a kid at Disney a couple of years ago wearing a t-shirt with the school-age-program logo below.


Without the background shape in the new logo, hoepfully people can still recoganize us as a software company just by the logo without having to get help from the context.


Wish SAP the best, as always.

Although Augmented Reality (AR) is a term that goes back to the beginning of the 1990s, it took almost a decade until with the open source ARToolKit by Hirokazu Kato of the Nara Institute of Science and Technology a first software became available that contained the key features of what we consider nowadays to be real AR: Combining real-world video tracking with overlaid contextual information and 3D virtual objects.


But only with the appearance of smartphones, lightweight tablets and now smartglasses did the use cases leave the restrictions behind that used to make its application in business use cases cumbersome: Either spatial restriction to your home computer or laptop, or the required usage of very specialized and often relatively heavyweight equipment that contained camera, information system, sensors etc.


There is no doubt that Augmented Reality (AR) gives developers magnificent ways to enrich the user experience of their applications: The application context information itself, either textual or visualized as virtual objects either in 2D or 3D, becomes a part of the reality of the end user by being actively linked to this reality via image recognition, location services and the measurements of various sensors.


With all these pieces of the game in place, business applications using AR are on their way to become state of the art. SAP itself has started on this path by recently making the SAP AR Warehouse Picker and SAP AR Service Technician available to the market.


Late in 2013, we at SAP Co-Innovation Lab (COIL) engaged with Austrian company Wikitude GmbH, a leading innovator in the AR space. While on one hand Wikitude offers its own cloud-based application for easy AR app delivery, it as well offers its technology via an SDK to application developers. In parallel, Wikitude is strongly in engaged in the standardization efforts around AR with their CTO Martin Lechner being the convenor of the ARML 2.0 SWG as part of the Open Geospatial Consortium.


As a first step, COIL and Wikitude focused on running a Proof of Concept for integrating this SDK with SAP Mobile Platform 3.0. Having succeeded, we connected Wikitude with Swiss customer Marenco Swisshelicopter AG and its consulting division Marenco Swissconsulting AG (since Jan 1 2015 named allvisual AG) to develop a first visionary showcase which was presented at the Augmented Reality Expo in Santa Clara:




[Click on the image above for a live demonstration.]


Based on this first vision of enabling Marenco service mechanics, COIL, Marenco/allvisual and Wikitude requested Orianda Solutions AG to join as implementation partner. Orianda is an internationally operating consulting company based in Switzerland that provides (amongst others) SAP consulting and implementation services with a focus on Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) and mobility applying future-oriented technologies like augmented reality or predictive maintenance.


The now complete team is currently jointly working on implementing an end-to-end AR-enhanced E2E Asset Maintenance Scenario tailored for both service mechanics as well as pilots to ensure the strong requirements for helicopter maintenance.


At SAP TechEd && d-code you will be able to see the results and learn about the building blocks needed to successfully build your own AR application within a realistic business scenario based on a complex overall SAP Solution Landscape [Expert Networking Session EXP17451 – “Augmented Reality and SAP – An End-to-End Use Case”; Wed Nov 12 14:00 - 14:30].


In addition, we have asked Wikitude to hold a separate Expert Networking Session to present to and discuss with you various aspects of AR like typical use cases, device-dependent form-factors and how to integrate AR features into your own applications based on SAP Mobile Platform. Hear as well about latest developments in the standardization efforts around ARML 2.0 within the Open Geospatial Consortium [Expert Networking Session EXP17452 – “Enhancing Applications with Augmented Reality: Development Aspects”; Wed Nov 12 15:30 - 16:00].


Please do not forget to add the following valuable sessions to your agenda as well! :


Session IDTitleWhen?
EXP17683SAP, Digital Eyewear, Augmented Reality, and MoreWed Nov 12, 14:30 - 15:00
EXP17683SAP, Digital Eyewear, Augmented Reality, and MoreThu Nov 13, 11:00 - 11:30
EXP17860How to Make Best Use of the Spatial Features of SAP HANAWed Nov 12, 16:30 - 17:00
TEC109Google Glass – SAP Experiences and Challenges of a New Interaction ParadigmWed Nov 12, 11:00 - 12:00
DEV103Mapping the World with SAP HANA Geospatial EngineWed Nov 12, 18:00 - 19:00

COIL @ SAP TechEd & d-Code, Las Vegas and Berlin 2014

COIL @SAP TechEd & d-Code is fast approaching but for me, the prep work begins much earlier so it has felt fast approaching to me for quite a long time. There’s always much to do but we somehow manage to feature a small number of exceptionally cool things each year  to share and to draw from in order to participate in a few interesting activities during the week.


You will find us in the Info  Zone on the Show floor at the events in both Las Vegas and in Berlin. (Pods 15 and 2 to be precise.)

From the show floor Info Zone Pods, we will feature a variety of SAP Co-Innovation Lab content such as Project Sponsor and Member profiles, Project highlights from a number of projects and in Las Vegas. Our colleague Shuuji Watanabe from COIL Tokyo will be on hand to show off some cool SAP HANA infrastructure demos during the week featuring some project work COIL Tokyo did with A10 Networks.  We also provide a lot content to share with prospective new COIL members and can describe some of our current and future programs.PartnerEdge Platform Innovation Series pre-event


We’ve  got a lot of ground to cover in the Las Vegas pod where COIL Palo Alto has enabled a number of exceptional projects being pursued with Cisco, Netapp, Intel, EMC, Citrix, CA, SAS, RedHat OSIsoft, Vormetric, Virtustream, Hortonworks, Tangoe and CoreMobile.


When we aren't at the COIL Pod, we can be found elsewhere in and around the event all week.  Beginning Monday Oct. 20, COIL is participating in a SAP .  PartnerEdge Platform Innovation Series pre-event by invite only, where registered attendees can opt to join these free sessions which will run from Noon until 5:00PM. The SAP Co-Innovation Lab is pleased to co-host an event exploring creative development Big Data Solutions featuring the geospatial and graph engines in SAP HANA with our colleagues from SAP NS2.  If you are interested in this topic and looking to solve problems and gain analytical insights with data enriched with GSS, this is the place to come.


During the week, we will co-host two Expert Sessions in the Network Lounge (Wed and Thurs.) One is the very cool and timely topic of cloud security and encryption.  I encourage you to read  about this very cool COIL project in Kevin’s blog and also check out the excellent white paper.


The second explores using Citrix Receiver to work with SAP Visual Enterprise 3D from literally anywhere. Our colleagues in Berlin get the cool factor award for their expert sessions featuring some augmented reality project work with Wikitude and Marenco Swiss Consulting.


Back on the show floor in Las Vegas, we are looking to do 2 SAP TechEd Live segments. One with Cisco and CA who have been collaborating together at COIL.   I will talk to John Stone (Cisco) and Rickey King (CA) about MTR Monitoring through Remediation. This is an end-to-end automated solution for managing SAP HANA operations that Leverages SED by CA Wiley and ITPA by Cisco. This solution identifies issues around SAP HANA operations and performance, as they are just starting to occur, and then analyzes and remediates the issues, in milliseconds, before they can impact the business. 

As an offshoot from the pre event on Monday, COIL and SAP NS2 we expect to sit on some Birds of a Feather Sessions to help keep the geospatial conversation at SAP TechEd  & & d-Code continue all week.


Time permitting I want to spend time over in the hacker’s lounge as there is sure to be a lot of interest and talk on the topic of IoT and where COIL hopes to cultivate some compelling COIL project work going into 2015.


So plenty going on with COIL at this year’s event and we look forward to connecting with colleagues, partners and engaging with other attendees interested in co-innovation with SAP.

I would have liked to add this in my earlier blog post (it wasn't yet confirmed) but for those attending or would like to attend our session at the PartnerEdge Platform Innovation Series Pre Event next week, here is the planned agenda:



At the age of the cloud, corporate and government data breaches are in daily headlines.  These breaches can be deadly expensive. 

As the most important asset of every enterprise, mission critical data must be secured using a combination of access controls, mature key management, and encryption.  Used by enterprises both for transactional data operations as well as for real-time analytics, SAP HANA stores and processes sensitive enterprise data. It is no longer sufficient to secure just the perimeter of data centers where HANA is hosted., encryption of the mission critical data managed by HANA becomes more and more critical for many of our customers, especially when HANA is deployed in the cloud and offered as a service.

However, the overhead of encrypting data often leads to tradeoffs between performance and security.



What we have found at COIL


Thanks to recent innovations in hardware to accelerate encryption at the processor level, tradeoffs between performance and encryption are no longer necessary.  Working closely with Intel, Vormetric, and Virtustream, , SAP Co-innovation Lab (COIL), with the help of our HANA product management team, HANA Enterprise Cloud team, and  many other SAP groups, has shown that with the recent AES-NI innovations in the Intel Xeon processor family and the Vormetric encryption software enhancements optimally exploiting AES NI, large data sets on SAP HANA can be encrypted or decrypted with virtually no performance overhead.


Motivated by real customer requirements provided by Virtustream and SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud team,  the COIL project focuses on evaluating an encryption solution for HANA that address the following challenges with minimal performance overhead:


  • Secure customers’ data using a combination of access controls and encryption
  • Lock cloud administrators out of access to the data without impeding their ability to perform administrative tasks (and even applying to “root” accounts)
  • Leave the owner of the data in full control of the encryption keys


The following diagram provides a high level overview of the solution we tested at COIL, and all our findings are documented in two papers:



Vormetric solution diagram.png


We have a lot people to thank…


The COIL project is a true example of great collaborations of teams across organizational the geographical boundaries. 


Here is a list of the core virtual team members from the 4 participating companies who have spent many days and nights together in the last a couple of months working on bringing our technologies together to address the encryption challenges of our customers:   David Cruickshank (SAP SE), Tariq Ellahi (SAP), Roger Guedes (SAP), Mark Hourani (SAP), Heather Li (SAP), Kevin Liu* (SAP COIL lead), Sergio Pacheco-Sanchez (SAP), Carmelo Ragusa (SAP), Jay Thoden van Velzen (SAP), Kathy Barboza (Intel Corporation), Todd Christ (Intel), Martin Guttmann (Intel), Bing Wang* (Intel lead), Ashvin Kamaraju* (Vormetric, Inc. lead), Sridharan Sudarsan (Vormetric), Carlos Wong (Vormetric), Michael Powell (Virtustream Inc.), Gregsie Leighton (Virtustream), Vince Lubsey* (Virtustream Lead), Pete Nicoletti (Virtustream).


As the lead of each participating company, Bing, Ashvin, and Vince have invested tremendous amount of time and efforts to make sure right resources from each company are brought to the team and real customer challenges are addressed with the solution we evaluated.   Many colleagues in the participating company helped the team in various phases of the project, just to mention a few we are thankful Frank Ober of Intel for getting us SSDs, Andi Kleen for helping us debug Linux kernel, and Craig Piece for helping us resolve our networking issues.


With the continuous support of the entire team,  Sergio and his teammates at Belfast, UK did an excellent job in driving the critical performance tests and documenting our findings.


As the COIL lead, I would like to thank all the SAP colleagues who supported us through out the lifespan of the project, in particularly our SAP executive sponsors for this project Clark Masters and Wesley Mukai, our HANA product management colleague Mark Hourani with support from Michael Eacrett,, Holger Mack, and Andrea Kristen; and the entire COIL computing center team. Nothing could have been done without your valuable support.

Earlier this week I posted some details about a really cool pre-event at SAP TechEd & d-Code that COIL will co-host with our colleagues from SAPNS2. The work that has gone into this so far began well before GPO and Event marketers began asking us fro details and getting us officially scheduled.


We've been in agreement from day one that the real time data platform the SAPNS2 team began to build in COIL signifies rich capability of value to many customers and industries regardless of the fact that the current project work at COIL emphasizes requirements of the intelligence community. All businesses want good intelligence gathering and analysis too. We also agreed that there exists a gap between raw capability and a solution manager or application developer determining how to leverage the technology applied in one way to help solve an entirely different problem.


So we came up with the idea that we could try to address this knowledge gap in some way by sharing what the SAPNS2 team has learned in its 2 plus years at COIL on how to creatively use SAP HANA, not just for its in-memory goodness but as a complete platform and as part of a  data fusion architecture that can address a wide range of need.


I caught up with David Korn this week to ask him some specific questions as to why an attendee at the Las Vegas SAP TechEd & d-Code would want to sit in on this half day session:



Cruickshank: Who should want to attend this session on Creative SAP HANA solutions featuring geospatial and graphing capability and use?


Korn: I'd say Developers interested in developing applications to be used for semantic analysis of Geo-spatially related events. Definitely developers interested in using SAP HANA as a multi-mode analysis platform. HANA is much more than a fast database.


Cruickshank:  What do you think will be the biggest takeaways for the participants?


Korn: How easy it is to create analytic applications that use all of the advanced capabilities of SAP HANA and to see demonstrated just how powerful HANA really is.  The attendees is this session will see how 1 platform  replaces 6 separate software components as a single, integrated platform.

Cruickshank: Participants will see specific some cool POC examples. How can session attendees use the underlying architecture and the techniques shared to apply to similar commercial needs?


Korn: We will show how SAP HANA can be used to build semantic networks; use text analysis for entity extraction of objects from open source data sources; create an object bases production capability to load data into property graphs using python; essentially how to use many SAP HANA functions integrated into a single analytic environment.

Cruickshank: Why cover the topic in the order described by the agenda, GSS, IAV, and Semantic Analysis. Does each module build on the next or do they each stand unique?


Korn: Our approach is to pursue as a progression of functionality. Geo-spatial, integrate Geo-spatial and text analysis followed by integrated application that uses Geo-spatial, text analysis and graph analytics using the graph engine.


Cruickshank: There is likely to be a number of people sitting in, most familiar with ESRI GSS. What will this workshop cover about it and how will it be compared to alternatively being implemented using Luciad?


Korn: SAP HANA can integrate with any map engine and through our journey of developing engineered solutions we used ESRI, google, Nokia and Luciad for real time Geo-spatial analysis for and control applications.


Cruickshank: What makes IAV so important? How does its use tie in to creatively using SAP HANA geospatial and graphing?


Korn: The IAV provides the ability to analyze large data sets In a spatio-temporal manner.  Hana processes queries with respect to time and spatial location simultaneously. When the team developed its multi-int engr solution, the same data set used for IAV was used to drive the property graph creates in HANA


Cruickshank: Will you cover anything like rendering out as an HTML 5 application?  Anything insightful/informative to share?

Korn: The Geo-spatial situational awareness application has 2 HTML5 applications. 1 app was developed using the EDRI SDK and 1 App developed in the SAP HANA Studio using SAP UI5.


Cruickshank: What will be the focus with respect to Semantic analysis? Is Domain design method or Ontology design variable? Will you demonstrate some interesting techniques, best practices or lessons learned?

Korn: We will provide a detailed  session on how to develop graph applications. We will focus on our design methods, beat practices, entity extraction, graph enrichment and ontology administration

Cruickshank: What makes property graph so valuable. What will be the biggest takeaways about it the audience can look for?

Korn: The ability to perform semantic analysis at large scale with high performance. RDBMS do not provide native capability to perform semantic analysis of objects

Cruickshank: Thanks for the overview David, lot's of good reasons to be there. Last question. Will there be snacks?

Korn: Yes.

If all this sounds like something that would be worth your time while joining SAP in Las Vegas, please contact me and we can send you an invite while space remains available.

As a part of the “Platform Innovation Series for SAP Partners” presented by SAP PartnerEdge at this year’s SAP TechEd && d-code 2014 Las Vegas , the SAP Co-Innovation Lab is thrilled to co-host a most informative session dedicated to exploring creative SAP HANA Solutions with Geo-spatial and Graphing.


Enough time has elapsed since its introduction for most attendees to know SAP HANA supports text analysis, quantitative analytic methods, geospatial processing, property graph-semantic processing and event stream processing against a single data set, (no movement of data) for complex, multi-function applications. What remains is the challenge of how technologists learn to readily apply this capability to address their biggest business challenges and to help companies capture more useful insight into the business.


This half day workshop, guided by members of the SAP NS2 Dev team (and partners) is designed to help and encourage data analytics developers and implementers to discover, how to leverage the deeper capabilities of the SAP HANA platform and how to establish an architecture, that can serve multiple big data needs versus building something new for every problem encountered.


SAP NS2 CTO David Korn and members of his team will lead the sessions and additional content from participating SAP NS2 COIL project partners Luciad and SGI will be shared. This portion of the content will provide some insight into scale up hardware configurations and visualization options for deployment.


The team will begin with a short introduction into the topic and project to set the stage for discussing creative SAP HANA solutions featuring geospatial and graphing. The agenda will present and explore GSS, IAV and Semantic analysis using Property Graphs. Rich content will be offered with each of these topics.


Some Insight-
Consider the topic of Immersive Analysis and Visualization (IAV)tm. To offer  some glimpse into one of the SAP NS2 COIL projects  will demonstrate to you that the team’s efforts to include it as part of its data fusion solution set.  This team views it as useful to enhance the capability in decision making (both organizational and individual). To do so means to deliver increased processing performance, “smart data integration” of data resident in multiple places in the enterprise, and automated tradecraft capabilities with real-time examination and correlation of past to present conditions and events.


SAP NS2’s IAV Engineered Solution consists of three major components which is certain to be discussed  to some degree during this segment of the material: These are:

- the SAP HANA real-time data platform
- an integrated geobase, and
- a user interface implemented using the Lightspeedtm
tool from Luciad Inc.

The SAP Real Time Data Platform (RTDP) contains the Geobase and performs all of the geospatial functions including real time clustering, as well Natural Language Processing unstructured text analysis (entity recognition, identification and extraction). The high speed, in-memory processing of the SAP HANA platform allows real-time association of the extracted entities with the processed events.

At the heart of the IAV Engineered Solution is a map-engine neutral, memory resident geobase which integrates physical geography elements, human geography elements and armed conflict events that are not constrained by country. It is global. This geobase can be integrated with any external map engine such as ESRI, Google Earth, Nokia or custom developed application.

Hopefully this gives you a small flavor for the sorts of technologies and methods this team works with. The content is largely predicated upon all of the SAP NS2 COIL project work to date so I can already predict that the half day will go by quickly and questions will surface as to when we can host another session.

A Foundation of Important Work-

SAP NS2 has been active in COIL since SAP TechEd 2012 where the team first took up residence at COIL Palo Alto and where it has worked with partners like Critigen,
Encryptics, Cisco Systems to build and validate its big Data Fusion architecture optimized to fully engage the SAP HANA Geo-spatial and Graphing engines. You can link back to previous blogs on the project work to learn more. The session in Las Vegas will draw from this foundation work along with the newest project work to date.


Demanding data analytics requirements has driven the development of an exceptional architecture that will not only meet and exceed the demands of multiple government agencies and communities but additionally represents a real time data platform that can serve many similar challenges in private sector industries; particularly highly regulated industries like Health Care and Utilities. Geo-spatial intelligence factors in multiple markets like Oil and Gas, Mining, transportation and logistics, even retail.


From sharing this knowledge and responding to attendee questions as it relates to broader applications, we think the take away knowledge is very real. Maybe there’s a brand new COIL project out there waiting to happen triggered simply from what gets learned and shared during sessions like these.


Our hope is that from hearing from this team firsthand about its project work, its expertise, how tos, problem solving techniques and lessons learned, we can help those attending to understand how this same architecture and set of capabilities can be used by others facing similar big data challenges.


There are still slots open to attend so if this topic is of value to you, we encourage you to sign up now. Send me an email me if this event is for you and you'd like to get an invitation sent to you.


With your RSVP to the invite, you can pick up your registration materials the morning of Oct 20 (Monday) and then come down to the Platform Innovation Series for SAP Partners where lunch and sessions will start.

UPDATE: Content from the session is now available.

If you regularly attend SapphireNow, then you certainly know of the surge of energy that not only emanates on day one, but there are usually a number of major SAP announcements during the keynotes that when combined with the knowledge and information shared and absorbed among its employees, partners and customers not only sustains that surge for the entire week, but contributes to what makes this event so special year after year.

This is certainly something that all of us that comprise the SAP Co-Innovation Lab Global Network team feel particularly tapped into this year with nearly two dozen COIL sponsors and Project Members exhibiting or presenting sessions in Orlando.

I covered some of the highlights in my last post from the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud Encryption and Key Management project but I’d like to share a bit more about some of the other lab participants and projects too.

Cisco and CA are both at SapphireNow where you can find out more about their project with SAP at COIL to explore ways to that all of the enhanced performance and real time business management is never negated by bottlenecks stemming from sub optimal network policies. Cisco and CA have teamed together at COIL to capture real time traffic and to effectively monitor complex Java and .Net web apps, app servers, portals and other key infrastructure components.  Of course this project is not just about Cisco and CA bringing respective technologies and expertise to simply monitor but to help adapt an SAP HANA IT environment as business needs change.

Cisco and EMC are teaming up with SAP at COIL on the important topic of SAP HANA High Availability and Disaster Recovery, building out two three node SAP HANA clusters to demonstrate a number of different scenarios to be shared as part of a series of HA/DR workshops.  These Workshops will provide a repeatable and programmable way to help customers to obtain a deep understanding of HANA operational capabilities.

In recent postings I've described what our colleagues at SAP NS2 are covering these days with respect to combining geospatial and text analytics of value to real time situation awareness but if you are at the event, stop by the SGI exhibit to see their demo examining armed conflict and seeing the insights possible from correlating geo and human intelligence data. Even if you don’t work for the government, I saw firsthand how people focusing on things like re-inventing retail that saw the demo and take real interest in how these same technologies can be applied. In fact, we already have COIL project spinoffs from the SAP NS2 project with Critigen (a spatial systems integrator) build up a landscape to take its Medicare Mapper app to pursue other geospatial and predictive analysis of healthcare data.

It’s a big show floor but make your way over into the Technology Campus to have a look at the next generation of the HANA Cloud Cell and Fabric. This clearly represents an upwelling of co-innovation where SAP again, teaming with Intel, DSSD and others collaborate to engineer next gen cloud systems using high performance flash and high speed interconnect fabrics.

I’m not going to be able to cover everything in a single post but for the benefit of those at the event this year we really encourage you to check out all of the partners mentioned. Two more very interesting projects include one where SAP and SAS are working with a common customer to migrate to real time marketing capability and a second project with Vendavo price and margin management on HANA. This project has a number of goals but in sticking to the theme of “Simple” one is to simplify the ETL process required to load ECC data to the Vendavo Profit Analyzer.

The COIL team has worked with RedHat on a few notable projects over the past 3 years but the current project work is one that in fact will get covered in a future blog post. RedHat is working with SAP to grow the ecosystem by connecting directly with developer communities through OpenShift. The development of the OpenShift Cartridge for Sybase ASE, IQ, SQL Anywhere and SAP HANA is to provide a P-a-a-S environment to enhance building applications on the Sybase database portfolio.  These Cartridges is how OpenShift installs languages and middleware. Again if you are at the event, stop by the RedHat exhibit to learn more. 

If you find yourself chatting with RedHat, walk a few steps more and be sure to also visit Citrix and Violin Memory Systems- both very active in COIL this year. Have our friends at Citrix show you a very cool demo of using the SAP Visual Enterprise 3D viewer from pretty much anywhere you can connect to the Internet using a variety of devices. Violin Memory will happily walk you through what it means to build an exceptional flash memory storage array and can tell you more about its recent SAP ICC certification. 

Before the week concludes you will also want to check out a few more cool companies working with SAP at the COIL Labs. AlertEnterprise, IRise, Qnovate, Arteria and Sigga are all here this week.

Whether you are a SAP partner, customer (or both) and you not only want to know more about any of these projects or would like to learn how you can participate in co-innovation projects at SAP, make a point to visit the Partner Discovery Center and we can have that conversation too.

Sticking with my plan to share some COIL updates ahead of SAP SapphireNow, I’m now paying close attention today to a cloud-based SAP HANA with 3rd party dB encryption project where SAP is working with partners Intel and Virtustream along with new COIL project member Vormetric (who is also partnering with Intel) to further explore the area of high-speed data at rest encryption and how this can be applied to the advantage of further securing the deployment and use of SAP HANA from the cloud. This has been an amazing composition of participants taking advantage of the degree that Intel and Vormetric have collaborated with respect to encryption and system performance to Virtustream providing reality-based use case details. lastly it has been very impressive to work with our SAP colleagues out of Belfast who really set the bar high for performance engineering test development, execution and analysis.


SAP HANA is of course already natively secure and is designed to provide robust authorization, single-sign on and access control and with management controls allowing it to be securely deployed in support of countless use cases ranging from applications that run over relational databases or as a platform for developing entirely new innovations. There’s lots of solid and useful information on this topic with specific details useful to an SAP HANA administrator.

The reader will also find additional information about SAP Cloud Security in that its cloud solutions contain security controls and practices designed to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of customer information. These controls are further implemented my third parties that provision SaaS cloud services for SAP, and to its internal organization.

For this project, the team is intent to validate and to demonstrate capabilities required to maintain compliance, security and SLAs of SAP HANA in the Cloud. It is a timely project in that SAP’s own Cloud Privacy team advocates providing complete customer-controlled encryption. Many of the cloud solutions from SAP, encrypt data in a way that doesn't affect applications – they decrypt the data on the fly when applications access the data, but keep the data encrypted for other types of access. In the future, we want customers to be able to control this encryption and decide how and when they want to access it.

It is exactly with this notion in mind that the encryption solution stemming from this collaborative project work at COIL, uses hardware assisted high-performance data-at-rest encryption, access control and security intelligence gathering to secure data and satisfy auditors of meeting compliance requirements.


Project Use Case, Testing and Observations-

This COIL Project Evaluates two important dimensions:

      1.) Demonstrate minimal performance overhead due to encryption

            a.    No need for customers to trade off performance for security

There is more analysis to come via whitepapers and an introduction and summary of the results was shared during the demo theatre presentation On June 3rd at SAP SapphireNow. You can also pick up a nice summary of the results now over at Vormetric's Blog.


2.) Further effort is made to attribute the performance characterizations made during the project to then demonstrate how to apply the Security architecture and Vormetric Data Security solutions to SAP HANA in the cloud.  This demonstrates-

a.)   The SAP Hana Data in the cloud is encrypted

b.)   The Customer is the custodian of the encryption keys

c.)   Service provider personnel don’t have access to data
       but can still provision and manage the infrastructure

d.)   Exploit Intel’s AES-NI instructions and other enhancements in
       the latest Intel chipsets to accelerate cryptographic computations

A complete whitepaper from COIL will soon be published where you can learn more about the Vormetric Transparent Encryption and Access Control technology and which will further describe the tests performed showing the measured throughput and latency in more detail but the net conclusions are:

  1. Secure SAP HANA-as-a-Service
  2. Consistently Encrypt persistent storage, logs and configurations. (SAP Persistent Data and associated logs, configs, etc. (if they contain sensitive or regulated data, are under the same risks as every other bit of data whether in the on premise, DC or in the cloud)
  3. Maintain governance over keys, policies and data
  4. Control data access from Enterprise and Cloud privileged users
  5. Reduce threat surface available to APTs and Malware acting as “Insiders”
  6. Gain data access security intelligence through audit and alert on data access
  7. All with very little performance overhead as characterized by this project

What does the Outcome of this Project Signify?

The results observed from the tests the team pursued against Intel Westmere and Ivy-bridge chip architectures is certainly valuable in that it provides an indication that the performance of given OLTP workloads processed through Vormetric’s encryption algorithms does not induce an unfavorable degree of overhead against an SAP Hana database.

There is clearly much more to be explored and observed by employing more use cases and working against different I/O performance targets.

In this project our performance engineering leads would still like to test with higher system utilization to see the extreme case when there is saturation (> 90% CPU usage). Early speculation is that, before ever reaching that point testers will observe a bottleneck at another layer of the system, (e.g., storage layer).

The team already anticipates the question about encryption impact on system performance for high to saturation levels will be asked, so more work will need to be done as the numbers we have now we can only support and provide evidence for the entry-level to the “beginning of mid-range” system utilization, i.e., up to ~40% CPU usage.

Yet another question to address is that once we declare a satisfactory performance outcome that includes persistent ability to more effectively encrypt in the cloud does this help to further satisfy a firm’s security and privacy goals for its data?

Doing More Securely with SAP Hana in the Cloud

SAP HANA leads the charge in changing High-speed data analytics in ways allowing companies to better compete by harnessing real-time insights to support their most important business processes. As mentioned prior, SAP and SAP partner provided S-a-a-S is comprehensive and assures data segregation at every layer of the stack.

While few disagree that Cloud computing offers game-changing capability for business computing, and even with the highly robust capabilities deployed by cloud providers like SAP, many companies do remain reluctant to deploy mission-critical applications in hosted cloud environments. Although they would like very much to derive the potential benefits, they have understandable concerns about security and compliance.

What is being observed from this COIL project work is that there is even more to leverage with respect to the protections afforded through data encryption for companies to seriously consider running mission critical applications deployed over SAP HANA where multiple data types can be safely encrypted and for encryption key management directly controlled by the owners actually responsible for the data.

This COIL project serves as a practical examination of how this security model and architecture, as tested and proven in the SAP COIL labs  by multiple partners with expertise in enterprise class databases & analytics, hardware & systems, data security and cloud infrastructure & HANA services is a significant milestone. It is demonstrative of the availability of a high performance data security solution for SAP HANA that will help enterprise customers meet their compliance requirements while hosting their data in the cloud.


From this initial validation work that is very much aligned with the best practices and defense in depth strategy surrounding SAP HANA in the cloud, and where Vormetric drives additional value through its approach to encryption key management.


Where to learn more?

Watch the COIL SCN page for a link to the whitepaper and you can also visit Vormetric and have a look at Ashvin's informative post.



Thanks greatly to Ashvin, Bing, Kathy, Charles, Bill, Wes, Kevin, Sergio and the entire project team for contributing to all of the content shared here. For those who like the system details, here’s the rig all the testing has run through. (Thanks Sergio!)


HW specs of the systems used:


  1. 1.     Hardware specs:


IvyBridge 4-socket 60-core Intel Xeon E7-4890 v2 @ 2.80GHz [1]

  • 1 TB DRAM
  • Intel Solid-State Drive 910 PCIe. 800 GB Flash card [3]

(for placing both log and data volumes which are on the file system which is guarded by Vormetric software)


Westmere 4-socket 40-core Intel Xeon E7-4870 @ 2.40GHz [2]

  • 1 TB DRAM
  • Intel Solid-State Drive 910 PCIe. 800 GB Flash card  [3]

(for placing both log and data volumes which are on the file system which is guarded by Vormetric software)


  1. 2.     Software specs:
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11.3 (SP3)
  • SAP HANA Support Package Stack (SPS) 06, revision 63.
  • TPC-C oltpbench, 365 GB dataset [4]




[1] IBM System x3850 X6



[2] Supermicro system



[3] Intel SSD 910 series



[4] OLTP-bench



Note: All experimentation done did not account for hyperthreading. There were 60 physical cores for IVB (otherwise we would have used 120 cores), and 40 physical cores for WM (otherwise we would have used 80 cores).

The project flow in the SAP Co-Innovation lab (COIL) in Palo Alto has maintained a fast pace since the beginning of the year and many project teams are now preparing project content for SAP SapphireNow to be featured in various campuses, forums and from partners and firms exhibiting at the event.

I hope to get additional posts out before the first of June to share some insights into other project outcomes to look for if you intend to be in Orlando, but first I want to offer an update on the second phase of the SAP HANA-powered geospatial project work being pursued by SAP NS2 with some new partners here in the COIL.


This particular project is comprised of four dimensions to demonstrate how a SAP HANA-enabled real time data platform for Real-Time-Situation-Awareness fully meets the requirements of the intelligent community. SAP HANA is such a great choice for this solution because it not only takes advantage of the in memory database and multiple parallel processing but additionally for its ability to provide spatial and textual data analysis and all of its libraries for predictive analytics.

You can read previous posts describing the RTSA project work done up to now as this post will zero in on what’s beginning to spin up as the 2nd phase of this SAP NS2 project. For some quick context, here’s a quick definition for RTSA-

The SAP NS2 RTSA platform is used to demonstrate its complete capability using some select scenarios and models to uncover obvious and non-obvious data relationships regarding the  “who, what, when, where, why and how “questions” that an analysts needs to answer as it relates to the context of an operational mission.

Before describing the framework of the project and some of its key milestones, I think it’s worth talking a bit about just how incredibly important the use of geospatial and geo-human intelligence is becoming. While there is a lot of geospatial capability emerging in software today, working with large volumes of data is clearly something that the government has been managing for a long time and long before the media attention and hyperbole so typical of the big data topic today.  It therefore requires a great deal of diligence and tenacity to fully understand how to build an end to end solution set that can hope to satisfy the often very sophisticated needs of the Intelligence Community (IC) and the agencies comprising its foundation.

To gain a more thorough view of all this, our colleagues at SAP NS2 invited me to join them for a few days at the Geo-Intelligence Symposium (GeoInt) run by the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) in Tampa just a few weeks ago.  It was there where they were demonstrating alongside of COIL sponsor Cisco, some of the project demos for geospatial RTSA that have been created out of the project work at COIL.

I checked out some sessions, attended the keynote from Director of Intelligence James R. Clapper and visited with a number of exhibitors. What I observed provided a sense for the different categories of geospatial data applications and solutions that exist and where vendors seem most focused. I also tried to take note of what the attending audience seemed to find of high interest. Clearly there exists keen interest in overlaying human cultural and societal data to location and incorporating intelligence from human networks. The topic of human terrain mapping seems to be the big focus within the geospatial intelligence community.

Among the many different geospatial enabled products being showcased however, I found very little in the way of off the shelf approaches among the various solutions like using commodity hardware and software necessary to solve some of the data analytics challenges that different US Government agencies now face. I saw a lot more of what I would call very complex solutions requiring a lot of systems integration time and custom development. So it has become even clearer to me going into phase 2, how valuable the SAP NS2 project at COIL has become.

The team has really produced some rock solid work through close collaboration with both SAP development and some very talented partners not to mention having done some excellent requirements elicitation from the customer(s) and managing useful iterations of coding to then deliver final project outputs like white papers, demos, reference architectures and best practices. The office of the CTO for SAP NS2 has identified its overall goals for each of the next four POCs that seek to deliver outputs of value to the SAP NS2 customer base:

  1. Situational Awarenesscollecting data (type of data, method of data collection, location of data , time of collection, etc.) in the correct context (the type of analysis required by a particular mission) that is required to support mission objectives so short and long term patterns of behavior and trends can be discovered, correlated and recognized
  2. Strategic Foresightprovide the ability to perform anticipatory analysis about future patterns of behavior and likely trends based on prior and present conditions and events
  3. “Big Data Analytics”advance current tradecraft practices that will enhance the analysts ability to discover, visualize and curate intelligence products locally from an increasing number of diverse collection sources (higher data growth, more data variety, data comes at the analyst much faster than it did in the past – velocity) and controlled distribution these products to the appropriate recipients.

    The tradecraft enhancements also need to include the problem solving and predictive modeling capabilities to drive real-time tipping and queuing to support automated and human-in-the-loop re-tasking of collection assets to collect additional data to support on-going real-time analyses.  In Real Time (or as real-time as possible) with significantly less dependence of batch processing.


It is the goal of this SAP NS2 COIL project to provide an end-to-end process for that spans information discovery through analysis process improvement.

The following table highlights four key areas that need to be consolidated into a single architecture construct instead of multiple applications performing the same function across multiple organizational boundaries.

In consideration of this consolidation requirement, the key objectives for the POC are:

  1. Provide a platform that will enable users to discover information by creating contextual queries that cross location and repository boundaries and having the results provided as a graph of related nodes and attributes instead of searching for data manually and assembling the results of many searches into a coherent information artifact.
  2. Provide a platform that will integrate easily within the existing IT strategy for “cloud” based computing
  3. Innovate by using property graph technology as the basis for managing, processing and analyzing “INT” objects and their associated meta data
  4. Provide a mechanism that will allow users to curate their own objects and attributes locally without disturbing the “Source Baseline” of “INT” objects and associated meta-data.
  5. Allow users the ability to discover information temporally, geospatially, textual context, meta data context or in any combination


Among the 4 project focus areas; there is one that I am quite interested to know more.  The project team will develop a use case for Armed Conflict Analysis (ACA) via Link/Graph Analysis. 

The result of this POC will show how SAP HANA can be used as a central property graph repository that integrates data from multiple sources, performs sophisticated property graph analysis, which is a “table stake” in the IC and DoD ISR community.  SAP NS2 will demonstrate that the IC can enhance manual processing and exploitation activities while allowing existing desktop capabilities such as Renoir to extract a complete graph or, a subset of a graph, and to create locally curated intelligence products.

At this moment, the team is getting project provisioning requirements identified and planning deployment of new partner supplied hardware and software.  COIL is pleased to welcome Nutanix to the SAP Co-Innovation Lab in Palo Alto and joining SAP NS2 for Phase 2 where it will contribute its 2U appliance, comprised of 4 nodes. Each node runs an industry standard hypervisor and the Nutanix controller VM delivering an exceptional virtual computing platform.  

The RTSA platform will use the nodes for a Smart Graph construction engine, RTDP for Real Time Analytics (hot storage of graph objects and attributes, a Near line repository for warm graph objects and meta data accessed via federated query by the RTDP platform and the 4th appliance in the event that data needs to be replicated in real time for a different location.

I’ll be posting a future blog post to tell you more about how these nodes fit into the real time data platform architecture and also possibly share some other interesting news coming from other projects as Nutanix spins up at COIL in June.

There will be other partner components from Luciad and DigitalGlobe, contributing to a specific Human Geography Information Analysis (HGIS) POC. In this collaborative work, SAP NS2 is extending its concept of a geobase for intelligence analysis. Working with DigitalGlobe, it has enhanced their fragmented human geography database and created a model that allows for the seamless integration of physical geography data elements as defined by the National Geospace Intelligence Agency (NGA) human geography thematic data layers as defined by NGA integrated with armed conflict databases.  SAP NS2 will demonstrate a comprehensive Human Geography Information System (HGIS) that incorporates integrated functionality from multiple SAP HANA engines: graph engine, geospatial engine, text analysis engine.

There is no single application that can be applied to comprehensively cover how the IC intends to pursue it new method for data curation; a smart user interface is called for. For example, the work done on the HGIS POC using Luciad will be incorporated for situational awareness. Some user interface techniques from the RTSA POC will be used for those functions that have yet to be defined and best suited for light weight, HTML5 and the use of new SAP AG visualization prototypes used for complex graph visualization.

This fusion of human geography with geospatial for the purpose of armed conflict analysis is a serious topic representing one of 3 major areas of research, this one examining the influence of topography, borders and resource availability on the occurrence of international and intra-state war.

Given the numerous SAP HANA projects COIL has enabled, it is frequently given very good visibility in to the platform’s diverse capabilities. A rich variety of COIL Palo Alto projects generates a confluence of intersects where participants from different projects will connect and identify new partnering and co-innovation to pursue. COIL additionally touches some of the newest development initiatives within SAP through different projects whether it is the Start-up Focus or Cloudframe teams working at COIL or teams engaging with partners in workshop sessions covering the latest topics like design thinking, SAP HANA High Availability and Disaster Recovery, Suite on HANA, Fiori and SAP Lumira.

These most recent efforts to strengthen the SAP user experience in a simple yet elegant way and are underscoring new ways in which to analyze interact and visualize data.  It’s exciting to see and yet I hope that all of the energy and work going into GUI development for SAP analytics and data visualization will still allow ample room for SAP to continue working with select partners to enhance the overall visual experience of its software. What is impressive with Luciad for instance, is that its real time visualization user interface matches the speed of the SAP HANA back-end analytics processing. Such rich visual rendering of all location and human network data analyzed via SAP HANA drives right at the core requirements of the IC community.

It’s pretty clear that the geospatial technology and innovation frontier will remain vivid with such sophisticated use by government organizations like the National Ground Intelligence Center, the DoD or Department of Homeland Security and other similar agencies that comprise the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC). 

What is also clear is that the geospatial technologies and techniques already avidly consumed by the IC, is quickly expanding into several existing and emerging industries. There were geospatial discussion tracks and content focused upon civilian applications.

It might suggest COIL should watch for if not help to incite new projects that can reuse the sophisticated geospatial and location-based RTSA framework and functionality. Projects of interest from regulated industries but other industries too like retail.  Consider for example the use of geospatial innovations which would allow the extraction of data from commercial and private aircraft in real-time. There are some who believe such new capabilities may be difficult for a single company to forge but could certainly be realized through co-innovation where multiple partners participate.

COIL would be very on-board to see this sort of project work form up here. If you have some thoughts or interest in such project; work; please let us know!

Finally found the first weekend since returning from Dresden, Germany on April 12, to sit and blog a bit about the part of my trip where I paid a visit to the SAP Co-Innovation Lab FutureFactory (FuFa). fufac1blog.jpg

The FuFa lab originated within SAP R&D a few short years ago, but was eventually brought under the SAP Co-Innovation Labs Global Network
The FutureFactory and its siblings, FutureRetail and FutureEnergy were forged as focal points for helping SAP customer account managers to easily share key areas of research that SAP pursues with industry, partners, governments and academia to drive consistent innovation within the realms of discrete manufacturing, retail and energy. These labs gave SAP customers a refined view of the company they were choosing to do business with by offering a glimpse at what technologies and software solutions might be possible in the future. 

Each lab is able to reflect a common view of the operating environments found in these three topic areas where end to end demonstrations could be run against equipment similar to or actually used for R&D research and rendering demonstrations of what research deemed likely and possible for advancing existing operations and using predictive analytics to better inform the business.

The FutureFactory has a remarkable demonstrator for depicting a complete manufacturing operation from complex order intake and management  to order creation tied to RFID-enabled tracking of raw inventory to shop floor systems monitoring and management including functional tooling systems like bench drilling and robot-driven milling all contributing to turn a small number of raw materials into a laser engraved wood and metal refrigerator magnet product ready to be shipped and fulfill an order.


If you won’t be going to Dresden anytime soon you can take a webcam tour but if you are ever moving about in central Europe and you are focused on discrete manufacturing, I would encourage you to see it.

First and foremost, it is still a very current demonstration for just showcasing the depth of information and actions that are possible with SAP relative to automation and discrete manufacturing- well beyond ERP.

The other two labs are similar in that they too offer a physical manifestation and tactile sense for what are still very relevant issues for customers spanning these three large industry domains.

What has changed since these labs were first formed is how new content becomes generated so that new demonstrations can be devised which continue to best showcase what interests the target audience most of all. What COIL envisions is that SAP and its partners engaged in developing new ways in which to go to market, and who pursue co-innovation projects that render new solutions focused on manufacturing, retail or energy, that the project’s scope includes creating meaningful demonstration content that can be showcased at the COIL Future labs as a means for reaching a wider audience of potential customers.

One of the reasons for my trip was to learn firsthand from my colleague Martin Rosjat who directly oversees the FutureFactory. We spent some time exploring where the best points of injection are for augmenting the existing demo environment. In other words, as this demonstrator is designed to represent an end-to-end case, how many more stories can we tell between where it starts and ends?

There are a few limits like anything and yet many possibilities. We are already beginning discussions with colleagues from the Visual Enterprise 3D team on where and how we can demonstrate it within the context of our current demo deployment. To deeply change the demonstrator in an attempt to showcase some specific dimension of mfg., for example, rendering a decorative belt buckle versus the metal and wood refrigerator magnet that is fabricated now, would mean non-trivial preparation like reprogramming for the robot loading the Mill and for the Mill tool to be reconfigured to hold, manipulate and machine some piece of material used to make a simple belt buckle. All certainly possible but the decision or need to do so is tempered by how much having such a demo contributes to capturing new business.

Some lower hanging fruit perhaps and one area that could be exploited further with far less heavy lifting, is the collecting of sensor data from all of the various tools and systems for the sake of demonstrating predictive maintenance. I would believe that augmenting the current demonstrator in this way makes a lot of sense given the strong interest. Just this month from the SAP portal was a recent article interviewing Heiko Lohrs. In the interview with him he speaks directly to predictive maintenance as an entry scenario. There exist multiple points from which to inject a demonstration of this within the FuFa where an ability to discover, collect, explore, analyze and visualize machine sensor data relevant to such predictive abilities could be showcased.

I cannot claim any expertise in this space but even as a non-expert it’s easy to observe how relevant this topic is for so many businesses today. While I understand from the portal article how companies can benefit from
Predictive Maintenance this practice has only focused until now on being more efficient to more basic preventive maintenance. Within a predictive maintenance strategy is the practice of Condition Based Maintenance. The idea is to collect data while the equipment is running, establish threshold limits either from OEM information, vendors, or best practices, and schedule the maintenance activities accordingly. You can perhaps start to learn more about that here, but to me, this truly sounds like a great place to explore big data co-innovation projects. It would be the results of such co-innovation that could then be featured as part of the FuFa showcase.

Since getting back into the office in Palo Alto, there has been a number of new project requests received where the focus is mfg and retail. COIL has hosted similar such projects but not so many that originate at COIL Palo Alto. Given global COIL prior experience with such projects though and now observing an increase in requests to pursue co-innovation projects, COIL believes that its current and potential value to enable SAP and its partners to discover new opportunity in the Industry 4.0 world and reap mutual benefit through co-innovation is high. It would be COIL intent to see the content derived from such project work formed up to qualitatively and quantitatively demonstrate SAP as platform company on which companies can build their product and service innovation and for both COIL and FuFa to help broadly showcase results from the most compelling projects.

I was recently approached by the Industry Solution Management Organization about COIL hosting an event in the early fall that is meant to help establish a Global Advisory Council for Discrete Mfg. to inform industry CTOs to position SAP as a platform company of interest to discrete manufacturing, so I am hopeful that we can collaborate more with this team to cultivate and act upon some near term projects that can serve as new and relevant proof points to share with the CTOs attending the event.

While COIL has a good view of co-innovation across the SAP ecosystem it cannot manage to see around all of the corners so there are limits to its ability to lead efforts to identify the most optimal co-innovation projects for a given technology or industry. The COIL focus is to enable the projects determined to be worth the investment of time and resources between SAP and partners. Nonetheless there are many places to explore. COIL for example hosts a few systems for the Startup Focus Program (SFP). Just within this exceptional SAP program are several start-ups focused upon the use of SAP Hana for Discrete Manufacturing where just a cursory review of some solutions developed through the SFP leads me to believe that there is room for further co-innovation with many of these firms and that some of the existing solutions could in fact could be further showcased via the COIL FuFa.

Looking through the COIL lens, there appears a bright future of Industry 4.0 innovation where the SAP platform and complementary partner technologies can yield a full spectrum of discrete manufacturing solutions for customers. From now having just now used the word “lens” this prompts me to close with sharing one thought that I had while at the FuFa but its more about glass not really a lens. Google Glass to be more exact  It still remains to be seen what Google strategy is or will be regarding its latest eye ware, but as I looked upon the half dozen or so manufacturing stations in the lab,

I was imagining a worker in each location wearing such a device. What would it augment relative to the job that worker performed? Where would it source data used by the augmentation? What data would it collect in parallel to the worker’s actions?  How would all of this data end up inside SAP HANA for correlation work underscoring predictive and condition-based maintenance?  My point in sharing these immediate thoughts is simply meant to illustrate that for even the non-expert one can readily imagine plausible ideas, so just imagine what happens when the real experts come together in a place like the SAP Co-Innovation Lab?

Should you find this topic of interest or your interested to explore how to work with the SAP Co-Innovation lab on such co-innovation projects we want to hear from you. For project requestors marshaling the right project resources and expertise, COIL can enable the right SAP Landscape and test environments as well as provide the showcasing ability contributing to making co-innovation a commercial success.

SAP employees in North America have just received an invitation message from Bay Area communications team today to attend a live presentation at Palo Alto plus a webinar on the coming Monday with Encryptics and SAP National Security Services (NS2).  I am excited to report that with this session the SAP Co-Innovation Lab (COIL) is introducing our Co-Innovation in Action Series to showcase the latest co-innovation projects from COIL.


Co-innovation in action.jpeg


COIL facilitates project-based co-innovation with its members from forging strategic alliance initiatives to delivering key proofs of concept. We enhance the capabilities of SAP's partner and customer ecosystem through an integrated network of world-wide expertise, and best-in-class technologies and platforms. We have delivered hundreds of projects since 2007 without talking too much about it. With the limited resources available to us, our first priority is to get the job done. However, that should not become an excuse preventing us from sharing with you some of the exciting results from the collaborations and co-innovations at COIL.  With the Co-Innovation in Action Series, we will present to you the latest co-innovation projects making a difference for SAP customers.

For the first session of our Co-Innovation in Action Series, we will have Richard Wuest, SVP of Sales and Marketing at Encryptics, and David Korn, CTO of SAP NS2 to present highlights and insights on a co-innovation project between SAP NS2, Encryptics, and a few other partners. The joint project provide Real Time Situational Awareness (RTSA) while ensuring secure communication of sensitive, critical data for analysis and decisions. This data can be any kind, structured or unstructured, and can include video and voice communications. Encryptics and NS2’s capability to help SAP customers move to the cloud and run mobility solutions securely will also be discussed.


Please join us this upcoming Monday, April 28 from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. in Palo Alto (Building 1, Co-Innovation Lab). For those outside bay area, we will broadcast the session via a webinar and you are welcome to register here - Encryptics and its security solutions for SAP customers


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