“Just in time for SAPphire, we’ve passed customer number 500 with Business ByDesign, and we now see the market momentum we have been fighting for for the last couple of years,” said Reiner Zinow, SVP for Business ByDesign, in an interview webcast live on SiliconAngle.com from SAPphire 2011. The conference marked ByDesign’s maturation in another way with the announcement of Sales OnDemand, the first of a planned series of SaaS services from SAP built on top of the ByDesign platform. While Business ByDesign is focused on SMBs, giving SAP a way to grow beyond the large global enterprises that are its traditional market, these new services are designed to extend the on-premise SAP systems of the industry giants.
“Our large enterprise customers say innovate but don’t disrupt what we have,” Zinow told SiliconAngle Founder John Furrier and Wikibon.org Co-Founder and Chief Analyst David Vellante. “The way we do that is to show them how they can extend their business suite with OnDemand Solutions. That is why the announcement of Sales OnDemand is so mission-critical to us.” SAP plans to follow Sales OnDemand with services covering travel and expense management. “These allow our customer to extend the scope of their SAP systems without changing a single line of code.”
The third step in ByDesign development, he says, will be to open the platform to let SAP partners and customers develop their own extensions and cloud services on it. “We will be offering the full business capability of ByDesign to them,” he emphasizes, “not just a few tiny features and functions like some of our customers.”
Security is a major part of the platform, particularly after the headlines of the last few weeks about the Sony PlayStation network and security company RSA being hacked and Amazon.com crashing. Business users are very concerned about the security of online services. SAP’s answer has been to earn the SAS70 part 2 Certification for all the data centers where it runs Business ByDesign. This is the highest highest security certification level available; the only higher level is reserved for credit card companies.
Beyond that, Zinow says, SAP is working with Intel to implement a new generation of chip-based security. Intel has purchased several security technology companies and is in the process of building security features including comprehensive encryption and unique identification “fingerprints” for individual devices, into the silicon. Security experts agree that hardware-based security provides the highest levels of security, beyond what software can provide.
What this means, Zinow says, is that in the future ByDesign can register each authorized device using its unique identifier and deny access to any unregistered device. It also will allow ByDesign to encrypt all data and send the encrypted data to wherever it is needed. This is impossible to do with software-based encryption because the CPU demands would be too great. Furthermore, hardware encryption is by its nature more secure.
Another key to ByDesign’s success has been the strong focus on simplifying the user experience. Historically SAP software has not been know for ease of use. However, from the start of the design of Business ByDesign the team has worked to create an interface that is as intuitive as the leading Web services.
“In a certain way it’s a lot easier these days to build user interfaces, because you look at the consumer space, and you adopt those standards,” Zinow said. “We always ask ourselves: Could somebody who an purchase something on eBay use ByDesign? If yes, that’s good. If no, back to the drawingboard.”
Mobility is another important aspect that was built in from the start, he says. ByDesign is totally device-agnostic. “The business functionality has no knowledge of who is consuming it – is it a traditional Windows computer, a mobile device, or an Excel spreadsheet with a macro. So with ByDesign I don’t have to write a single line of code if I want a mobile scenario.”