It took a while to understand what the SAP team meant by "the edge." Earlier in the day, the SAP team tried to clarify by calling River a "lightweight" service. The lightweight service term got us a little closer to figuring out what they meant. But we still had to ask: "What do you mean by lightweight?" And how does it compare to Heroku?
By the end of the day I think we had our answer. River is a collaborative technology. It's part of a platform that connects to SAP's ERP environment. It will eventually tie into a hybrid cloud environment with other services such as SAP Streamworks. It now runs on Amazon EC2 but will eventually run on other cloud infrastructures.
River is viewed as a way to get lightweight apps beyond the firewall. It's "next generation edge." It pulls in data from back-end apps. It's on demand.
And what does SAP mean by edge?
It's a collaborative technology, an SAP manager said. Now that makes sense. You can see how that compares to Heroku, a Ruby-on-Rails open platform for developing apps that Salesforce.com announced acquired for $212 million.
You have to remember that this is SAP. These folks are technically brilliant, but understanding what they mean can be a difficult translation even for the most technically inclined bloggers in the group. One executive said to me toward the end of the day that they are told to call River an "edge," service. That can make it difficult to explain when there are strict terms for definitions.
Making it simple would seem to be a no brainer but after a day of listening, I am of the opinion that SAP is doing just fine. Cultural changes are not made by acting like other people or doing what people think you should do. Cultural change comes from what you believe should be done based on what your customers need and what you historically have provided.
The last thing we need is more cowbell.
I am intrigued by SAP. The company has been criticized for being slow to respond to the changing market. Well, this older giant is starting to show signs of becoming a major cloud provider.
Their explanations may need some work but you have to also consider the company's history. SAP pioneered methods for automating business processes. What they accomplished has had considerable impact on the enterprise and how companies do business.
To shift in thinking is a considerable task. A focus on platforms represent a new process that requires adjusting to a new lens.
Some may think that SAP needs more energy.
More cowbell? No thank you.