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As I was preparing for my trip to this week’s TechEd in Las Vegas, I was surprised to find references on Twitter to an article in the German newspaper Handelsblatt entitled “SAP stops billion Euro Project” which referred to Business ByDesign.

In the article, there were statements from SAP spokesmen saying that the product wasn’t being shutdown but that the product would remain in the portfolio and customers would still be served.  Thus, the article title appeared to be misleading.  Other statements, however, stated that a smaller developer team would continue the product development and that service and maintenance for ByDesign would be performed in India.

The damage had been done however and the word spread throughout social media that "ByDesign was being stopped". 





Some competitors such as NetSuite already created offers to migrate ByDesign customers away from the platform.

The Handelsblatt article only had a few short quotes from SAP spokespeople. A second article in “All Things D” contained new statements from SAP regarding the future of ByDesign.  

SAP spokesman Jim Dever said the company’s plan for Business ByDesign is a little more nuanced than the total shutdown of the product, as portrayed by WirtschaftsWoche. He said SAP is essentially concentrating its development efforts on its HANA cloud application platform, of which Business ByDesign will become a part

Here is a more detailed quote from Dever:

We are taking a significant and innovative step forward by putting all of our cloud offerings on the SAP HANA Platform. Moving forward, SAP HANA will be the single, unified platform that enables businesses of all sizes across all industries and lines of business to run their entire business in the cloud more efficiently and effectively than ever before. SAP Business ByDesign will become part of the SAP HANA Cloud, and will continue to be supported and actively promoted in its current functionality and scope through our extensive partner ecosystem. Optimizing SAP’s cloud portfolio on our HANA platform means a dramatic price-performance improvement with all the benefits of simplicity in the cloud for all our customers. And SAP’s BYD customers have a clear roadmap to our future HANA powered tightly integrated Suite of business applications in the cloud.

Instead of making things clearer, I was now even more confused. 

There were two fundamental statements whose relationship to one another was unclear:

  1. ByDesign development would continue through the extensive partner ecosystem rather SAP.  
  2. ByDesign would be moving to the "HANA Platform"

The move to HANA was reinforced by a tweet from Vishal Sikka.

During today’s 3rd Quarter 2013 results call for analysts, analyst Elizabeth H. Henlin tweeted the following information that cleared things up a bit:

Note: If it this migration path is true, then some of the confusion is based on SAP’s often unclear use of the phrase “HANA Platform” – especially as it relates to the Cloud.  The quote in the one article refers to the “HANA cloud application platform”. In my understanding, the only platform that fits this description in the cloud from SAP is the HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) – SAP’s PaaS. 

If Elisabeth's tweet is correct, then we are primarily talking about a change in hosting environments – this would perfectly fit a migration to HANA for ByDesign. One interesting consideration is the use of multi-tenancy in ByDesign and how this fits into the single-tenant environment of the HANA Enterprise Cloud. This migration would also represent a change in the role of HEC – the placement of ByDesign on the platform would be the first SaaS application running in this environment that I know of.

What I don't understand is how the reduction in associated development efforts by SAP for ByDesign relates to this move. Will there be two version of ByDesign? A "classic" which is developed by partners and an "improved" version running on the HEC and developed by SAP?

I’ll be curious to see if other related cloud solutions (Cloud for Financials, etc) make the same move to the HEC.


For me, the timing of this story is unfortunate and will distract from other more important announcements at the TechEd. Perhaps, this announcement was intended as a part of the keynote at TechEd to demonstrate that the evolution of ByDesign continues and a tighter integration with HANA and other cloud solutions is planned; a positive message.  Now, SAP must deal with the impact of all the negative press about ByDesign – on existing but potential ByDesign customers and the ecosystem as well.

After criticism of ByDesign by the former SucessFactors boss Lars Dalgaard at the Sapphire in 2012, there were also rumors of ByDesign’s imminent death.   The product’s history demonstrates that it is like a cat with nine lives that always bounces back after such close calls. Yet, reduced development is not a sign of strength for a product.

I don’t have any further details about the shift to the HANA Enterprise Cloud time but it looks like ByDesign just might be a phoenix.  I’m just curious to see what emerges from those flames.

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