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“Berlin, Berlin… wir fahren nach Berlin”

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To those who closely watched the soccer world-championship 2006 in Germany the above stated battle call may sound familiar as it was heard everyhwere when the German team qualified for the finals to be held in Berlin. Those were the days… 😉

Well, ever since then I cannot help but find myself humming that tune whenever I hear the name of our capitol city and in this spirit I left sunny Cologne on Sunday to travel to TechEd’08. Joining me on my flight to Berlin were two of Germany’s most prominent comedians Ingolf Lück and Markus Maria Profitlich, which I took it as a sign of fun times ahead… 😉

SDN Community Day

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As I had such a great time on the SDN Community Day Impressions from TechEd’07 Munich year it was clear to me that I would not want to miss out on that pre-conference event this year either. Due to some personal issues Mark Finnern could not be physically present in Berlin, however he kicked off the community day from Palo Alto via Skype. Not only did he torture us with strange noises in the beginning (the source of this noise was later revealed as being a harmonica – kindly gifted to everybody by this year’s sponsor Adobe!) … he also made everybody jealous by showing us these nice bottles that were handed out in Las Vegas – and ONLY in Las Vegas!) Due to Mark’s absence Craig Cmehil was asked to take over the job of the host and he really did a great job!  

Just as last year I hosted my own session, this time about ‘Extensibility Concepts for Composite Applications’, and found myself in front of a very diverse audience in terms of expertise on the subject matter. I briefly explained the need for extensibility concepts and the fundamental building blocks and then presented various concepts on how extensibility can be incorporated into modern Java applications. After the session I got some very positive feedback and had interesting discussions with some of the community members. Those of you interested in the topic, please check back on my blog frequently… there’s something in the making 😉

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The other two sessions I enjoyed the most were Benny Schaich-Lebek‘s presentation about ‘Future Strategy of Java in SAP NetWeaver’ and Martin Raepple‘s freestyle session about OpenID-enable SAP NetWeaver‘. I call it freestyle as due to some issues with the beamer he had to present without any slides(!); yet he did great! Towards the end, the room – full with geeks – were then witnesses of one of the most interesting workarounds I’ve seen recently: SAP Mentor Gregor Wolf plugged his MacBook to the beamer and then connected Martin’s Vista-based laptop via Remote Desktop Sharing on which Martin launched a VMWare image of CE on Windows XP… WOW! 😀

The two panel discussions were also both very interesting and entertaining at the same time and rounded the day off rather nicely. After that, everybody was rushing to the elevator of the Berlin Funkturm (radio tower) for dinner… a perfect ending as we got catered with some nice food while enjoying a gorgeous view over Berlin and listening to live music!

Those planning to attend TechEd next time I can only encourage to also book the SDN Community Day as it is the best opportunity to do networking and to get to meet some of the most energetic and knowledgeable community members face-to-face.

Key Note

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Zia Yusuf was first to hold his key note and he picked up on the current economic situation and how SOA can help to turn this challenge into an opportunity. He was showing some “Did you know…?” slides that explained the official motto of this year’s TechEd: ‘CONNECT. COLLABORATE. CO-INNOVATE!’

Next on stage was Léo Apotheker, who started his key note with a joke based on stereotypes of IT and sales people. He explained SAP’s vision of how ‘business network transformation’ helps to provide new value-added services for customers, the plans for UI harmonization (including native multi-channel support for mobile devices like Blackberry and iPhone) and the philosophy of ‘innovation without disruption’, which is based on the idea of having a stable BPP that is periodically enhanced with Enhancement Packs (EhPs).

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Towards the end, Léo was joined by Ian Kimball who demoed the integration of BI data and Business Objects products. (Damn, that guy can take fast… ) He was certainly excited about showing off some neat features of Excelsius; yet his attempt to increase sales by “applying a 5% discount” (~ 58 minute mark in the video) definitely caused some amusement among the audience – that’s what I call an innovative sales model 😀

Demo Jam (aka The Geek Show)

The Demo Jam is definitely the most entertaining event of every TechEd (partly because of free beer and brezels) and a pleasant reminder that the job of a software developer can be fun once in a while! The gadget of the year was apparently the iPhone and we saw several presentations about how to get SAP functionality running on it. Arguably Louenas Hamdi (SAP) and Pakdi Decnud (Cernum) impressed the audience the most with their demo about ‘Mobile eSOA Mashup for Smartphones such as iPhone’ and their repeated statements that it requires absolutely “NO CODING!” to develop such functionality. 🙂

If you’re looking for entertaining ways to kill productivity… check out the video! 😉 

A word about the infrastructure and logistics 

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As you can tell I take it as my responsibility to provide you with a complete and more importantly uncensored view about the conference, hence I also need to comment on things that … well, how to put it… were sub-optimal. The ICC, as nice and colossal as it is, gave a lot of people a hard time on finding their lecture rooms on time. There were floors, sub-floors, ramps and stairs everywhere and it was not quite transparent to understand which “route” to take from where you are in order to get where you want to go… well, it got better over time and once people started to get used to it. Yet, I heard instructors where saying that everybody that made it to the room automatically qualifies for succeeding in the hands-on exercise.

The WLAN had some minor hick-ups. Sometimes no network seemed to be available, sometimes two networks with the same SSID (only different in capitalization) were found. Fortunately it worked very well most of the time.

Last, but not least: the food. It was great… (… if you love fish that is! For some reasons every time I finally made my way to the menu tables all meat was gone.) But wait…  seriously the catering was indeed pretty good, there were always plenty of sandwiches and pastries available as well as free coffee, water and sodas… and beer towards the end of the day. What else could one ask for?

The Sessions

I saved the most important aspect for last: the sessions. There were over 500 of them making it hard to choose from. Due to my professional background I picked the ones that addressed either SOA or composition related topics. Below you can find my personal favorites (in chronological order), so if you interested in these subjects you may want to get yourself a Virtual SAP TechEd pass and check out the sessions:

My own session (COMP103) which revolved around the question ‘Web Dynpro & Visual Composer – Which Tool Should I Use?‘ was pretty packed. During the live (!) demo at the end I had a brief moment of shock as I got confronted with error messages. Fortunately it turned out to be a “user problem” and after checking the VC model again I realized that I had simply forgotten to configure my embedded WD component. Quickly fixed that and then it worked like a charm…

Interestingly enough the attendees apparently liked that aspect of the demo. The feedback I got after the session was that it clearly underlined the live character of it. I may consider incorporating such effects in some of my future demos 😉

One last remark about the topic of my presentation. Fortunately, the above stated question does not require an either-or decision as with our upcoming release of SAP NetWeaver Composition Environment 7.1 EhP1 (preview available for download here) you can actually embed WebDynpro Components into Visual Composer models!

I’d expect to see some information on this topics on SDN soon (hint, hint!) 😉

Wrap-Up

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All in all it was a great event again and time wisely spent! As always, the most important aspect of TechEd is networking: getting to meet colleagues, partners and customers face-to-face, discussing subjects of common interest, exchanging business cards -> expanding our individual business network so to say.

Alright… looks like I got carried away. I hope you enjoyed my summary and that you found it informative and somewhat entertaining to read. See you next year in Vienna….

PS: On the plane back to Cologne was another German comedian: Bernhard Hoecker. Guess Berlin was indeed the place to be if one was looking for a good time 😉

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4 Comments

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  1. Thorsten Franz
    Hi,
    The blog captures TechEd 2008 Berlin really well, but you seems to suffer from a misunderstanding about the ICC Berlin. If you play Halo 3, you will immediately recognize the alien spaceship architecture, which is obviously designed by and for technologically and intellectually superior, space-conquering alien species. No wonder we found it so hard to find the shortest way from A to B with our human, under-developed understanding of space-time.
    Cheers,
    Thorsten
    (0) 

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