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Some thoughts on the ‘On Premis, On Demand, On Device’ mantra which was very evident at at TechEd in Las Vegas this year. 

* There was less empahasi on the iPad and iPad nano (aka iPhone), compared to the impression I had received about SAPPHIRE (despite the presence in the timetable of the session CD125 iPhone and iPad in the Enterprise).  I do know that the number of Android devices on the the market has driven their prices well below those of the equivalent Apple devices, with the implication being that choosing one device type over another may make the difference in the financial viability of a large scale mobile rollout.

* Another issue was device standardisation (See presentation CD123 The Device Challenge – Selecting the Right Mobile Devices for Your Enterprise).  On the one hand, designing interfaces to be device agnostic means you end up with the lowest common denominator, but on the other hand, each device type does have unique capabilities.  One interesting approach with some potential is a product called Caffeine (you’ll need Code Exchange access), written and released into the public domain by an SAP employee.  It enables,  the execution of ABAP on new platforms, such as Java (JVM), Android (Dalvik VM),  the iOS (ObjectiveC).  The most obvious use case is where an ABAP programmer writes ABAP code (that runs on the device, not the server) and this code is used by device specific programs.  The idea here is that the ABAP people know the business structure and logic, and this is written once, while the device specific coding is handled by device specific programmers.

On the minimalist end of the scale, my team got a bit of praise at the Innovation weekend for having a simple HTML interface that used a server based PHP program with REST APIs to communicate with an application we developed in SAP’s River cloud.  This meant we could have demonstrated the product with much older technology than Androids or iPhones – an important consideration when dealing with volunteers and non-profit organisations.  A much more impressive example were the 2010 Las Vegas Demo Jam Winners Matt Harding and Al Templeton (BTW, I’ms not a barbarian, I’m a Tasmanian was made about these guys) who used an HTML5 interface for data entry requiring a modern browser, but still relatively device independent.

* As an aside, Rui Nogueira gave a presentation on Code Exchange.  Some people (myself included) had some issues with what we saw as onerous liscensing requirements.  I was able to have what was effectively a one-on-one with Rui later on in the week, and have a seperate post percolating away on that, to be posted real soon.

* The current and soon to be released features of the Adaptive Computing tools (See ALM208 Adaptive Computing Virtualization and ALM214 Virtual Reality) now let you manage the entire stack, from the physical in-house AND cloud resources, right up to starting and stopping individual SAP instances.  There’s an argument that vendor specific tools may do a better job of managing these resources, but the whole point is that the resources at your disposable may not be vendor specific.  I certainly got the impression that the latest release (due out in GA early 2011) provide more than enough sophistication for a site where the majority of the workload is SAP based.  And the ACC tools come with the Netweaver license, no extra cost except for configuration.

 * BusinessByDesign will come with an SDK (see CD107 Developing SAP Business ByDesign Applications Using Partner Development Infrastructure), supposedly available to partners only, for creating and modifying functionality.  The version we got to use in the hands-on session was a bit clunky, but it was functional, and it was still a pre-release version.  From my perspective, the elephant in the room is that sizing becomes even more of a black art; Architechts can estimate what queries wil be made and how often, and the impact that this will have on system load (from hardware resources to virtual server to network load to preseentation device), but this can all be blown out of the water by a developer or end user ‘having a bright idea’  It’s a reminder that the physical infrastructure needs to be supported by an new (for SAP, anyway) type of agile process, to allow for qucik but accurate provision of the resources to back up demand surges, while making sure that they are in fact real demand and not caused by an error in the application

* To me the biggest takeaway from the conference was the one phrase, especially from the SAP mentors (I know a few and have worked with a couple of them, so I may have got to go and hear a few things I possibly shouldn’t have…),

“It’s not your Grand Dad’s / Garand Ma’s SAP any more”

Whether you’re part of a System Integrator or large partner, like I am, or an independent consultant, or somewhere in between, we all need to get up to speed on what tools and techniques are available to us and our customers.  While conferences like SAP TechEd provide invaluable networking opportunities, you don’t have to go…. for example, most of the SAP Teched 10 presenatations are available off the SCN e-learn page (search for the SAP TechEd 2010 link). 

But there’s more (no steak knives though) …

1) ondemand.com is an SAP site which allows you free access to perform BI analytics on small sets of data  (you can pay for more storage if you wish).

2) Sustainability is supported by SAP’s Carbon Impact on Demand,

3) the live Collaborative Decision Making site. 

4) Don’t forget the Development versions of the latest SAP software from Crystal Reports to ABAP that you can install on your laptop, at home or in the cloud.

 It also helps to keep up to date with the latest news; for example, did you know what was happeing to Web Dynpro Java ?- See Video Blog: The Future of SAP Java UIs – Breaking News and Customer Dialogue from SAP TechEd Las Vegas and Kiss of Death for Web Dynpro Java – The Follow-Up Questions.

I have an aggregated SAP News feed which includes most SCN articles and blog entries from the last 30 days, but also other industry sources (such as jonerp.com ).  Feel free to use it.

Life is changingg, SAP is changing, and while there is always too much information to absorb and lots of new things clamouring for our attention, there are easy ways to keep up to date with SAP the company, SAP the product(s) and SAP the industry.

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