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Software Ontologies at Virtual Community Day

Some weeks ago I decided to take part at SAP Virtual Community Day as presenter and luckily I was chosen to present. My talk was about Semantic Web technologies .

Outside In

What are they good for? IT systems consists of data, functions and knowledge. The SAP Business Suite is an highly integrated platform that contains data and functions – and it is the task of a Business Process Expert to put knowledge into to system to make it “intelligent”.

Therefore we have various standards and techniques: open standards to code query knowledge. Semantic Web technologies offer new possibilities to deal with knowledge – think of tagging for example.

Inside Out

In my talk I introduced another approach: We expose information with the SAP system using Semantic Web standards. I show how to use  ontologies to describe architecture of enterprise applications including software and system landscapes. Ontologies provide a definition of concepts like applications, software packages and components. You can “feed” them by importing generated data from ABAP backend systems exposed using a semantic web standard called RDF. Furthermore you can define your own concepts on top of it and use tools from artificial intelligence to do queries:

  • What are the dependencies in an application when doing changes?
  • Are there hidden dependencies?
  • Are there unwanted dependencies – i.e. violations of architectural guidelines?

It put the slides of my talk and the files for online demo on the web. You can run those examples by installing following tools:

Thinking about Virtual Community Day

It was the first time ever I presented in a webinar, and it was a challenge: When you’re are doing a presentation in real life you’ll get feedback from the audience but in a webinar you seem to talk to yourself. This can be confusing. The second lesson was that Acrobat Connect didn’t work like expected when I used  shared documents and desktop windows together like I knew it from my company’s Acrobat Connect installation.

Nevertheless the presentation was fun and I learned a lot: There are other people who are working on similar approaches. Others asked question on application of general impact analysis of software changes as well as applying this approach to business data. These are interesting questions I’ll think about.

When comparing previous community days with their virtual counterpart following comes to my mind:

  • There is one thing in common: When you share information with peers you will always get more than you give, People will ask you challenging questions and give you inspiration.
  • You have the chance to attend presentations and discussions without travelling to various countries.
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  • I came into you presentation 5 minutes late, then got a customer call, so had to hang up.  I picked up again 15 minutes later, just in the middle of your technical problems…  And then got another customer requiring my help.

    I’ll have to catch the replay.  I didn’t even know what ontological meant…

    funny, isn’t it, with the technical issues – nowadays we expect it all to “just work”.  But what we’re actually attempting to do is really pretty darn complex!