Monday, November 10, 2008

SAP TechEd 2008 recap

This years SAP TechEd was held in Berlin, the ICC. Nice complex, originally build in the late fifties. A challenging experience if you look at the logistics of the event. The building’s nickname was Starship Enterprise (however if you look at the scale model, the building resembled the Battlestar Galactica more). Anyway all the floors and staircases fed the feeling that the building’s basis was a very interesting architecture but was never meant to host an event like the TechEd where attendees switch from location to location all the time. Not once I walked in one line to the location where the session was held. Fortunately I was never late and I didn’t miss a session as well.
Catering was very well organized, especially the possibility to grab a prefab sandwich in between sessions. Saves you a lot of time compared to standing in line for the buffet.

Community day
I started off with the BPX community day. A change to meet with the SDN/BPX soul mates. The sessions prepared me for the next three days. Difference was that there was more room for discussion during the sessions. Personally I feel that a community day should offer a lot of discussion on current project issues and future developments in stead of sessions that are on the TechEd agenda as well. I immediately realize that this must be hard to realize when you build the agenda for the community day especially when attendees take a seat and wait until what is being presented. Hard one. Throw in a facilitated game / competition and present the results during the keynote – How about that?

Day 1, Tuesday October 14th.
Keynote
This years keynote was far more interesting than last years. Great presentation on Business Objects and BPM, the topics for this years TechEd. Watch the replay to see for yourself.

UP220, Best of both worlds, Open source portal/CMS on SAP NetWeaver.
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Of course I attended our first session hosted by Peter and Ronald. Just in time the technology was ready to show the online demo on our demo server.

BPM160, Building Your Own Composite Business Processes From Scratch With SAP NetWeaver BPM
The best hands-on workshop that I attended. The scenario that was used during the keynote had to be rebuild in these two hours. Fortunately we succeeded! Next challenge is to try this at home. With a clean install of SAP NetWeaver BPM on my laptop I hope not to encounter prefab SAP components only available at the TechEd. Keep you posted.

BPM260, The ABC's of Modeling and Using Business Rules in SAP NetWeaver CE
A traditional example of an SAP specialist with not too much presentation skills. He ran through the workshop scenario in 10 minutes and than gave us the remaining time to go through the steps. I felt like a monkey only doing what was described in the handout without any explanation or background on what I was doing. So this is homework for later this year. Fortunately the handout is of excellent quality. All steps are described in detail, that is promising when you want to try this at home.

DemoJam
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Watch the complete replay or just Ronald and Peters replay.
Well it will be no surprise that I felt proud on Ronald and Peter performing their act on stage. We even got recognized by Craig as he spotted and mentioned the ‘guys in the purple shirts’ in front. They ended up second best, right after SAP with a hot and sexy development tool. Hey if you show a development tool that cool to a crowd of 5000 technonerds you are very happy with the second place.

Day 2, Wednesday October 15th.
BPM262, How to Use Business Rules With Business Process Management
Oh no, not again. The same well-spoken guy as in BPM260. So again 10 minutes for the scenario and 110 to act like a monkey. I surely missed the explanation and background.
It was a good session as I ended up next to Jan-Willem Kaagman so that we could catch up with what happened last year.

COMP206, Architecture guidelines for Composite Applications
Good to see that so many people were interested in Composite Applications and its architecture. I personally felt that the presentation was a bit too academic to be of practical use. But that for sure can be due to my lack in architecture skills.

GAP??
Well, and now, for the first time in 6 years of attending TechEd, I had a gap in my agenda. I could not find any presentation or workshop of my interest. Fortunately they served the coffee in the community clubhouse, so that is were we hang out and met with new and old friends.

Evening Event
Steve Winwood is a very capable guitar player and singer. But with a difficult technocrowd that was glued to their chairs (no free dancing/ partying area available) it is very hard to make a party. I think we attended about 20 minutes until we decided to pay a visit to Berlin. Outside we met Jan, Theo and Pieter where we had a great time of sharing memories on the TechEd and on our joint past.

Day 3, Thursday October 16th.
SOA246, Is Your Organization Ready For SOA?
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Niels kicked off on the last day with a huge crowd that was interested whether their organization was ready for SOA.

UP260, Model Applications For Mobile Always Connected Clients
Not too much mobile sessions on this years TechEd. Not hot anymore? I can hardly believe that. Anyway I attended this one with Ronald Kleijn and we ended up in a Web Dynpro training for dummies. Too bad. Again an example that not all presenters are best suited for the TechEd job.

Interview CE
Together with 3 more attendees I participated in a Composition Environment survey, lead by Greg Chase. I explained what we had realized at SPE. I am still proud of that, the way we used CAF is still very progressive. I wish that I could find the time to do it over again (or at least a small part of the project) in the new CE 7.1 release. Just to see what the differences/ improvements are.

UP223, iPhone development, Putting SAP at your fingertips
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Leo, our iPhone king, closed the TopForce presentations at the TechEd. Unfortunately the presentation hardware decided to take a break so he had to start 15 minutes late. Nevertheless a good presentation with enough attendees even though is was the last timeslot and the room was really hard to find (for me at least).

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The TopForce goal on being visible on the TechEd is successfully reached with 3 lectures and one DemoJam. Thank you Ronald, Peter, Leo and Niels! And besides that, our dress code, the ‘Purple Squad’ also helps, thank you Harry.

Conclusion
The keynote made clear that SAP’s focus is on information and processes. Knowledge workers use information in their daily jobs to make decisions. This information must be accurate, on time and easy accessible to facilitate the knowledge worker in his decision making. It will be no surprise that with Business Objects SAP now has all the possibilities to provide in this.
Next to that is the knowledge worker running through business processes day by day, he is not interested in the underlying technology. With SAP NetWeaver Business Process Management it is now finally possible to model a process with drag and drop functionality in a language that Business Process Experts understand, BPMN. The implementation within SAP NetWeaver Developer Studio surprised me, I expected that BPM would be implemented in Visual Composer, as announced in 2006. I am afraid that the developer studio frightens BPX’s. No reason to, Galaxy (hey, the codename of 2006 is back) is facilitating BPX’s and developers in the workflow to deliver a process with the correct implementation to end users as soon as possible.

SAP TechEd 2008 didn’t bring much more news than Business Objects and BPM. SAP is consolidating the innovations that have been brought to us in the past years. That is of course good news. The more mature solutions are, the better they can be used in real life scenarios.
In the end SAP TechEd is still the event to attend when you approach your SAP NetWeaver job professionally.

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