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OK, it’s been more than a week since the second TechEd ’07 – the one in Munich – also closed. Many have already shared their experiences, impressions and take-aways from this year’s premier SAP educational conference. There have been blogs about everything – lecture sessions, hands-on workshops, keynotes, Demo Jam, communities, Community Day, Community Clubhouse, people, connections, evening events, food, beer, coffee, latte… But nobody has tried to compare the events in Las Vegas and Munich (or at least I could not find it). So I just thought it might be interesting for those who attended one of the conferences – or for those who missed them both (don’t make the same mistake again next year!), or even for those who attended both 😉 – to share my observations and impressions from a comparison point of view.

Well, the key phrase here is “my observations and impressions”, I don’t pretend this to be complete in any sense, neither accurate to the full extent – it’s just how I saw and felt about it. Another point is that of course both events have much in common and I’ll not cover that (as I said you can find plenty of information here in the SDN blogs area as well as on the official SAP TechEd site). I’ll just try to summarize (some of) the differences. To start with the obvious:

  • TechEd Las Vegas went for 4 days while in Munich it was 3 – plus one day for pre-conference programs like Community Day at both locations
  • More than 6,000 attendees in Vegas vs. 4,000+ in Munich (both records setting I think)
  • Over 1000 hours of sessions in total in Vegas vs. 500 hours in Munich
  • All sessions scheduled twice in Las Vegas while some sessions scheduled twice (most hands-on workshops) in Munich

OK, these are just numbers and they’re not that important or interesting I guess, I’ll not bore you with them further. Instead, let’s give you an idea of how I saw the things happening. But first I should have told you that I was at both events as I was presenting two sessions about Java EE 5 there – TechEd ’07: CE102 – A Quick Introduction to Java EE 5 for Developers and TechEd ’07: CE152 – End-to-End Application Development with Java EE 5 Standards in SAP NetWeaver Composition Environment. (Otherwise, if you’re just attending, usually you won’t probably go to both – although you’re more than welcome 😉

So, to continue with the comparisons based on my personal experience:

  • Munich was much easier to get to for me – a less than 2 hours direct flight from Sofia to Munich and you land at almost the same time you take off, because of the time difference. 😉 Hmm, to get to Las Vegas was almost like a whole day adventure – Sofia – Frankfurt – San Francisco – Las Vegas. And in the end you don’t know what time it is – should you go to bed or is it time for breakfast… (OK, in Las Vegas it’s never time for bed – so this helps a bit to decide…)
  • The TechEd in Las Vegas took place at Mandalay Bay Convention Center which is part of the same huge thing (I would not call that building – maybe complex?) as the hotel (and casinos, restaurants, etc.) we were staying at. So for almost four days we did not get out and if it were not the windows we wouldn’t be able to tell what’s the weather like outside. In Munich, to the contrary, the Congress Center was somewhere outside the city, although there was a super convenient connection from my hotel with the underground (U-Bahn).
  • I attended Community Day in Munich and I missed the one in Vegas – what I terribly regret! It cannot be described easily, you really should have been there to feel it yourself. And I would strongly recommend it to anyone going to TechEd next year!
  • My sessions: There were more attendees in Munich in all of them, probably partly because the lecture was scheduled only once, and also hands-on rooms were bigger – although it turned out still not enough for one of the workshops. Or maybe Java is still not that popular at SAP in the US. Which I’m quite confident will change with the release of SAP NetWeaver Composition Environment. 😉 BTW, 2300+ CE 7.1 SP1 trial DVDs were handed out in Las Vegas – that’s more than 1/3 of all attendees!
  • Questions: There were a lot of questions in both Las Vegas and Munich. I remember talking with one guy for like 20-25 minutes after one of my workshops. I don’t know if that’s generally valid, but from my own experience I can tell that I got more deeply technical and lower level questions in Munich, and those in Vegas were more about the whole picture, how and where things fit together. Well, I don’t want to say that ones are “better” than the others.
  • Demo Jam: Wow, another awesome event in its own! In Munich the winner was Regina Sheynblat with “Widgetize Your SAP Data” while in Las Vegas Brian Yarnell rocked the crowd with “Supporting Data-Driven Presentation Needs of a Sales Force with XP3 and SAP NetWeaver BI”. But you’d better watch the full recordings here and here.
  • Keynotes: Peter Zencke and Vishal Sikka in Las Vegas. And also Tim O’Reilly speaking on what’s Web 2.0. Henning Kagermann and Klaus Kreplin gave the one in Munich. Again, full recordings are available: Las Vegas, Munich.

I suppose the list can be extended over and over. Probably those others who were at both places can share different views or might not agree with all my points. And that’s also the charm of SAP TechEd – different people, different expectations, different views, different cultures… But still, there’s quite a lot for everyone! So I guess everybody already can’t wait till next year… Hope to meet you there again 😉

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  1. Mark Yolton
    Thank you, Vladimir, for these perspectives. 

    I, too, am struck by the differences and by the similarities of these “same” TechEd events in two locations just a couple of weeks apart from each other.  Alot of the content was similar in the lectures and hands-on sessions, yet the other things you mentioned — Demo Jam, Community Day hot topics, executive keynotes… — were very different.  I was also struck by the very highly engaged crowd in Munich … I expected that in Las Vegas, but not as much in supposedly-reserved Europe, and yet the Munich Community Day and Demo Jam (as examples) were very active, engaged, collaborative … people were not reserved or quiet (which is good; we want them loud and participating, not just watching and observing). 

    I’m traveling from California to Shanghai TechEd this weekend (talk about a long flight and disorienting timezones…) to participate in TechEd Shanghai next week.  We expected maybe 700 people in there, but have more than 1000 registered already and are trying to find enough meeting space to expand and include even more.

    Then in the end of November, it’s off to TechEd Bangalore (travel note: it took me 26 hours last year to get from the front door of my house to my hotel room).  It will be very interesting to me to see how the Shanghai and Bangalore events and people are alike and different from our friends and colleagues at the  events in the U.S. and Europe.  (Bangalore last year was fantastic, high energy, enthusiastic people hungry for learning and active involvement in SAP and our SDN and BPX communities … I hope to get to know more of them at Community Day there this year.) 

    It’s rewarding to note, as you did, that we’re setting records for attendance all over the world this year (again, on top of record-breaking TechEd events in 2006).  And to see the enthusiasm and high level of interest and active engagement from developers, business process experts, enterprise architects, sys admins, SAP product managers, and all the others.  TechEd is an energizing and educational happening focused on technology and innovation, and yet it’s also a cultural and relationship-building education and opportunity like nothing else I’ve experienced. 

    Thanks for sharing your observations. 

    Regards,

    Mark Yolton

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    1. Vladimir Pavlov Post author
      Hi Mark,

      Nice to hear from you, too.

      If you were “struck by the very highly engaged crowd in Munich” you should try to have a TechEd in some southern European country (maybe even Bulgaria? 😉 ) – I guess you would be astounded then.

      I’m sure Shanghai and Bangalore will be another success stories and wish you and everyone best of all there! It was really a pleasure to meet you in Vegas and Munich.

      Cheers,
      — Vlado

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