The untold story: How SAP's CEO built the product that may save the company at night on his home computer

Tom Paine

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Bill McDermott / SAP

Most observers give credit for the vision behind SAP's revolutionary HANA in-memory
computing platform to company cofounder Hasso Plattner or CTO Vishal Sikka. But an inside source suggests the real inspiration for the invention of HANA came from a much different person, CEO Bill McDermott.

McDermott, who is known more for being a master salesman and strategist rather than a technologist, apparently hacked out the original prototype of HANA at night working on his home office computer. Using a version of "SAP Business Suite The Home Edition," McDermott, realizing the need for a faster running version, looked for better alternatives.

A memory vendor McDermott had spoken with suggested that he move more of the data used in applications off of disk drives and directly into flash memory, thus eliminating much of the time consuming I/O activity. Of course, the process wasn't as simple as that, but McDermott succeeded in producing a version of Business Suite that ran at least ten times faster than SAP's most recent release.

McDermott, never one to be bashful, bought his invention into SAP's Palo Alto labs for a look. At first, SAP's engineers snickered, though not too loudly as to offend the CEO. But Sikka had the prototype concept tested, and though balky, it proved out. So SAP began exploring if it could develop the concept into a workable commercial product.

When SAP decided to release its first version of the new product in 2010, SAP marketers worked excitedly on dreaming up a name for it. They came up with "Bill McDermott's incredibly fast new database" (BMDIFND). But McDermott, ever the savvy marketer, realized that name wouldn't carry much credibility in the developer community. So, at Sikka's suggestion and with Plattner's assent, instead they chose the acronym HANA (Hasso's New Architecture).

Whether the true story of HANA's origins will ever be made public is not known.

Comcast, in deal with Congress, acquires naming rights to US Capitol

Tom Paine

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In a major, unprecedented agreement announced today, Comcast has entered into a long-term contract with the United States Congress to acquire the naming rights to the US Capital, which will now be known as The Comcast US Capital.

The proceeds received from Comcast will help offset the mushrooming expenditures needed to maintain and fund major rennovations of the Capitol, while Comcast will provide state of the art technology services and receive some valuable rights.

"Comcast has already paid for this place two times over", said one member of Congress who wished to remain unidentified, "so this is just a logical evolution," he added as he carefully placed a check for his PAC appearing to contain the Comcast logo into his wallet.

As part of the agreement, a new building will be added on the Capital grounds, The David L. Cohen Building. The new tower will house Comcast's ever growing DC staff, giving them closer access to members of Congress and their staffers as Comcast continues to negotiate its complete takeover of the nation's telecommunications assets.

Comcast will install all the latest communications and video gear in the Capitol, including TV Everywhere, its X1 platform, gigabit internet access, and Wi-Fi hotspots. It will also gain exclusive rights to stream all deliberations of both houses and of committee hearings, and have exclusive interview rights with all members of Congress while on Capitol Hill grounds. A new 24 hour cable channel will broadcast live from within Capitol Hill, just as sister channel CNBC broadcasts live from the NYSE.

Comcast said in a statement that it saw numerous multimedia programming opportunities
coming out of the arrangement, and the potential to turn the Capitol Hills grounds into
a theme park akin to the company's Universal Orlando.

Congress did balk at one Comcast request, however, denying it the right to place the
Comcast logo over the inside of the Capitol dome. But the logo will be displayed in several prominent locations on the Capitol's grounds.