SAP is therefore pointing Business ByDesign at companies with 100 to 1,000 employees. These companies "are growing fast, and what they need most is a business process library," he said. "At the same time, these companies say 'I don't want an IT organization.'"
But they do want an application with the same responsiveness as one run on-premises. To that end, SAP has worked closely with telecoms to ensure working with Business ByDesign is a zippy experience, according to Zinow. Users should expect average response times of a second to 1.2 seconds, or "human interaction speed," he said.
In-memory processing in the upcoming release supplies another jolt of performance. "We're keeping all transactional data at any time in main memory," Zinow said. He demonstrated how a user could quickly drill into various aspects of a transaction, examining data from various viewpoints, with the application rarely appearing to write back to or read from the database.
Other improvements, such as to system management, will be less apparent to users. "We've worked a lot in the last two years to get all of the upgrade processes, data migration, backup and recovery, to automate this as much as we could."
Meanwhile, although multitenancy is a big theme for 2.5, customers will still have a single-tenant option. But it will cost more, Zinow said.
Speaking of money, SAP is no longer using revenue as a yardstick for Business ByDesign's success, co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe said during a press conference Monday. "We will measure our success in the number of customers running the software," he said. In addition, it is too early to provide numbers regarding future customer growth, he said.
SAP needs to be more aggressive, in an "un-SAP-like" way, if it hopes to gain new customers for Business ByDesign, given all the "loud guys in the SaaS market" like Salesforce.com and NetSuite, said 451 Group analyst China Martens, before the conference began.
Moreover, non-SAP customers who are kicking the tires on a variety of SaaS (software as a service) applications may also "have a very negative connotation and view of the company," Martens said. "How do you change that?"
At the same time, SAP could also position Business ByDesign at "unhappy SAP users who have one foot out the door," she said.
Initial Business ByDesign customer BendPak, a manufacturer of jacks, lifts and other garage-related tools, resides in the "switcher" camp.
BendPak moved to the software from a Sage ERP system, two CRM (customer relationship management) systems and spreadsheets for tracking inventory, said CTO Sina Moatamed in an interview last week.
"We're not a multibillion dollar company or anything, but from a logistics point of view, we do a lot of [product] movement," he said. "We needed one single system to operate out of with intelligent reporting."