Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Live from SAP TechEd 2013 Amsterdam

As a first time TechEd visitor I have high expectations of SAP's annual techfest. We're visiting the event that takes place from 5-11 to 7-11 in Amsterdam. Here we'll give an impression of the event up until now.

First impressions

When browsing through the agenda it becomes clear that it's all about HANA, HANA and even more HANA. There is less focus on topics like Mobility, Cloud (mostly a combined topic with HANA) and even less on SAP Hybris, although there are some sessions on that today and tomorrow.

So only a glance at the agenda makes clear what the tech strategy of SAP will be: HANA-ify everything.


Next up: The Keynote, this year a joint presentation by Bernd Leukert, Head of Application Innovation at SAP and a number of co-presenters. Even Vishal Sikka had a message for through a video message.

The Keynote this year is also all about HANA. Vishal mentions 'the new HANA reality'. Bernd compares the technology to a plain journey: What if you could travel from San Fransisco to Amsterdam in just 36 seconds - instead of 8 hours. The outcome would be Disrupting indeed.

However, what follows in the rest of keynote is not so much of a vision on that HANA future, but rather a series of repeating, similar demos of HANA apps. Amongst other things SAP claims:
  • Reporting is real-time with HANA;
  • Reporting and Online Transaction Processing can be done on the same system;
  • Customers save money by shortening the cycle of reporting/analysis/reaction;
  • HANA in the cloud will be a driver for simplifying the system landscape of customers;

The first two claims I understand, that's what in memory computing is about. However, a lot of the other claims are more difficult to follow. Don't get me wrong; I think HANA-like technologies will disrupt IT in many ways.

However, this slide is shown only seconds after the claim that HANA in the cloud will make things simple:


Next up are the sessions. There are a lot of interesting sessions, so making choices is very difficult. Some of our key take aways so far:

  • HANA is all around us. Not only for analytics but also in in the suites (ECC, CRM etc). SAP's message is clear: As a developer, you cannot ignore HANA.
  • SAP Fiori offering is being extended. Currently there are 25 apps, will be extended to 150 this year.
  • ABAP is gaining more expressive power through functional programming paradigms in Netweaver 7.4. New statements like DATA(<var>), NEW and VALUE allow you to simply tell *what* you want and let the compiler figure out the *how* part. Cool stuff allowing developer to write more clear and concise.
  • SQL Script is one of the tools to leverage the power of HANA. Writing effective SQL scripts is also a more functional than imperative exercise: Define what you want rather than how to reach that result.
  • Retrofitted into Netweaver 7.02: Support for json parsing. Good news for developers looking to integrate with SAPUI5.
  • ABAP is gaining support for full-duplex, event driven messaging in the form of a Websockets implementation. This allows separate processes to communicate in realtime, even across system boundaries. This means I can finally rewrite that Tic-tac-toe demo to a proper version. Also very cool stuff!
  • Netweaver 7.4 SP2 and SP5 have a number of significant improvements allowing developers to get performance gains that are equally impressive as redeveloping to HANA SQL Script. Before turning to HANA it is wise to improve your ABAP code as well.
  • SAP's UX/UI strategies is about:
    • SAPUI5/Fiori for greenfield ("New")
    • NWBC/ABAP Web Dynpro for current development ("Renew")
    • SAP Screen Personas/Theming styling for enhancing classic SAP Gui ("Enable")
    • (SAP also offers SAP UX Design Services, although a bit off-topic for a TechEd)


Of course there's lots of fun to be had outside the sessions too:
  • Meeting up with old and current colleagues
  • Playing ridiculously large foosball
  • Beating my colleagues at old skool Bomberman
  • I actually managed to crash a Commodore 64 home computer that was on display…

  • My daughters are really happy with their SAP Codejam patches:

We're looking forward to the rest of the TechEd content!