Anirban Dey (aka Andy) is the managing director of SAP Labs India. Prior to taking over his current role, Andy was the vice president of in-memory platform technologies with responsibilities covering research, development, and quality certification for SAP HANA, SAP’s flagship product in the in-memory space. (SAP HANA is a data warehouse appliance for processing high volumes of operational and transactional data in real-time. HANA uses in-memory analytics, an approach that queries data stored in random access memory or RAM instead of on hard disk or flash storage.)
In a conversation with YourStory, Andy shares with us his journey, transformation taking place in the tech world, and what it will take to succeed for techies in the current times.
Born and brought up in Calcutta, Andy completed his engineering from IIT Kharagpur and went to the US for his masters. As luck would have it, while he was doing his thesis, a call from Oracle changed the tide of things for him. He met the VP of Oracle on a Friday afternoon and was asked to join them from Monday morning. Starting as a junior engineer, he went on to become the Director of application development at Oracle, a stint lasting for 10 years. Being a true technophile, after 10 years of working in application development etc., Andy was keen to move to core technology. He was also contemplating a move back to India for family reasons. Andy has two kids and he wanted them to connect with their families back home, grandparents, relatives.
And, so, the professional and personal goals merged when he got a chance to join SAP Labs. Andy says, “Joining SAP was one of the best decisions of my career,” and why not, he was part of the core team that worked on SAP HANA and witnessed the product become a reality.
New door for the database industry
“If you look at the database industry, no ground-breaking stuff happened in the last 20-30 years. Organisations primarily concentrated on stability, and on maintaining the uptime. The game changed with the advent of SAP HANA, which is an in-memory platform on which real time applications can be built, it’s a different architecture, unlike PCs and laptops, no hard disk is needed. It’s superfast and has opened a whole new door for the database industry,” says Andy.
“Research on how to fundamentally solve the big data problem (before big data became part of the regular tech parlance) had begun in SAP some time back with Hasso Plattner (co-founder, SAP), and Vishal Sikka (member of the executive board, SAP AG), leading on this effort to build a different database technology,” says Andy.
HANA has opened a new business avenue for SAP and has placed it in the forefront as a developer platform for real time analytics. “I am driven to make this technology reach every possible stakeholder, not because it’s coming from my company, but because of the impact it can create for businesses. We are witnessing every day the impact HANA is creating for small and big businesses alike,” adds Andy.
For SAP India, 70 to 80 per cent of the customers are from the SME sector. “The mindshare about cloud is very much there among the SMEs here, but unlike the US and Europe the actual adoption of cloud at a large scale has not yet happened. We believe market has reached a point of heightened enthusiasm and we will see more and more action (adoption) now,” remarks Andy.
SAP Labs is going all out to make HANA the platform of choice in the Indian market. Recently, SAP organised a big tech conference for students in Bangalore and offered training programme on HANA technology. Five student startups were commemorated and SAP Labs is supporting them while they build their tech startups.
Andy is also focusing on startups and sees them as a natural partner on HANA. He says, “We want to be there with the companies of tomorrow, we want to enable their journey and be a part of their success, we have various initiatives for startups and you will see us working very closely with the startup community.”
What does it take to succeed in the highly dynamic tech world?
The answer is in staying in touch with technology, continuously learning, evolving with technological changes taking place around you, says Andy. “Every 2 to 5 years, technology is changing. Stay abreast, don’t get into the mould of being an expert of a tech of yesterday. Personally, I love to look under the hood, get hands dirty and look at codes at any given time.”
Tides are changing, specialists will be in demand; and, in a tech industry, to succeed you have to be a technologist first. The era of generalists at the helm is changing.
One more motivation!
“To make SAP Labs as the powerhouse of innovation in India. To inculcate a culture of innovation that spreads across our country. Innovation drives me.”