InfoWorld has published a very interesting interview with John Schwarz, the former CEO of Business Objects who now heads the SAP Business Objects division. Definitely worth a read http://www.infoworld.com/article/08/04/02/SAPs-BI-chief-juggles-independence-integration_1.html. I have always been a fan of the data warehouse appliance and John speaks a bit about SAP’s BIA “We are also borrowing technology [from SAP] called Business Intelligence Accelerator, or BI Accelerator, an in-memory data management tool that was built by SAP primarily to improve the performance of access to massive data structures inside BW. We have attached to BI Accelerator our query and our search capability, we will probably also attach our OLAP client, so we’ll be able to do queries or search or slicing-and-dicing of the in-memory data cube with lightning speed. Ultimately, I’d like to use the technology outside of the SAP BW context as well, so we’ll have the ability to do in-memory analytics everywhere, so that’s a very exciting development on the BI side.”

The future of SAP’s BIA is definitely something to watch. From past experience, the independent Business Objects was a big fan of the data warehouse appliance. At last year’s Sapphire, Business Objects was demonstrating a Netezza data warehouse appliance in their booth. At last fall’s Business Objects Conference in Orlando, Netezza had a big presence and you even had the Chief Transformation Officer from Business Objects speaking at a session that featured Netezza. Business Objects is definitely keen on the data warehouse appliance space. SAP has been strongly promoting their BIA – I have been to a number of sessions in the past at Sapphire and at the SAP BI and Portals conference where lots of good things have been said about BIA.

From John Schwarz’s comments, he is suggesting he would “like to use the technology outside of the SAP BW context as well”. This to me is a very interesting comment. In the SAP context, the BIA is an add-on to the SAP BW product, which can significantly boost performance. The question is, what will BIA look like outside of the SAP BW context? SAP is a huge and powerful organization, but one thing they currently lack is a strong database product. Their main competitors – Oracle, IBM and Microsoft – have major database products and HP is investing heavily in NeoView. Will BIA outside of the SAP context be a new and powerful database? SAP currently generates a lot of revenue for companies like Oracle whose database is used in a lot of SAP deployments. It makes sense that this is something that SAP wants to change.

John Schwarz also talks about integration into the SAP stack and also having independent BI applications. This is also another area to watch.