We are surrounded by game changers in today's world. Who would have thought that the self- immolation of a Tunisian fruit seller would lead to the reconfiguration of some of the most neo-permanent regimes of modern times? Or who would have thought that the world of statecraft would be dominated by an individual who believes no state secret is secret enough? Well these are macro game-changers.
The domain of information technology, too, has its share of game-changers. One of these is a revolutionary concept taking shape on Google's "Solve for x" forum. Different thinkers are collaborating via Google's immense financial and global muscle, to solve real world problems. While this particular idea has captured the imagination of the mainstream media, many happenings in our industry are not "glamorous" enough to find a mention.
One such momentous event occurred during Sapphire 2009 when Mr. Hasso Plattner, who had taken a media back seat letting the Agassis and Apothekers hog the limelight, returned with a sledgehammer of an idea which had the promise to decimate every known competition to SAP and transform the enterprise applications world.
Although, whether his idea of insert only, columnar database technology will revolutionize the world of enterprise community is yet to be seen, since his declaration, Plattner's sheer personality has fuelled debates for and against the topic. People are debating such tried and tested concepts as "primary key". Even further, the focus of the company, which he co-founded, is now concentrated towards his brainchild and its numerous offshoots: HANA being one, Sybase Mobility another, on-demand analytics one more. Then there is an entire Project River, unknown to many, but capable of unleashing a disruption of its own.
But this blog is not just about whether SAP will be able to influence, if not dominate the DB & OLAP space in ways it did the OLTP world. It is also about trying to understand why the existing database players kept ignoring the power of out of the box thinking which columnar storage is all about. Was it the fear of challenging established customs e.g. keys, indices and redundancy for speed or was it a complete disdain for the risk versus reward aptitude of customers? Some call it the blind spot of success, I call it inexplicable.
This behaviour is not isolated; we have stories everywhere of how a disruptor was ignored by the mandarins when presented to them. Al Pacino, initially rejected by most of Hollywood is one of today's most respected actors and has spawned an acceptance for method acting in mainstream cinema. A shy child with congenital muscular and growth deficiencies with exceptional dribbling and ball-play skills was not wanted by any Argentinian clubs but is now regarded as a "Messi"-ah of football. The list is endless.
Why do we reject these "non-classical"? Why are we so much in love with the status quo? Why do we praise people like Jack Welch, Hasso Plattner, Steve Jobs, but fail to read the fine print in their biographies which is all about embracing the non-classical, untested and untried??