Monday morning came fairly quickly, after a reasonably paced Sunday getting registered and meeting people at the ASUG/Sapphire conference center in Orlando. I woke up rested, and headed to the 8AM speakers orientation meeting after a couple cups of coffee at my hotel. One tweet that I saw before I left was about the “SAP Premier Customer Network.” I thought, “Isn’t that ASUG? What is going on here?” I should not read too much into early morning tweets, but I looked it up on Google and was a bit confused about what it is, or was. The odd search result was for the site name, which came back as “Joomla!”. Isn’t that a vacuum cleaner brand or something?
Later, I spotted a section of the show floor, walled off, called “Meet Our Customers”. Again, I thought, “Isn’t that ASUG, too?” Possibly not, since unlike the ASUG booth area, which was open to all, this area had people checking lists at the door. Very mysterious.
Meeting – Speakers
In prior years, the speakers meeting was on Sunday, which not everyone could attend, but we normally had time afterward to network with other volunteers and speakers, new and experienced. This year, we held it on Monday morning, enough before the keynote not to be too rushed, but still a bit tight on network timing. I didn’t get to meet any of my Mobile track speakers, though that was probably my fault for not opening my mouth. It does happen.
Session – Near Zero Downtime
As I mentioned in the blog posted Sunday, this was probably the session I was most looking forward to. Not because this is a tool we positively must have, but to gain enough insight to know whether we would consider it under some circumstances. I came away thinking it was a big investment in time, and hence money, but if the time comes when ever shorter downtimes drive us to this process, I know more than I did before.
Some tweets I posted during the session:
- Nike ERP data storage growing 1/2 TB per month. Huge. #asug2011
- Correction to last tweet: Nike keeps 4  full size copies… Now talking about the transaction cloning process – 20% updates/80% readonly.
- Nike upgrade process had around 4,000 transports to apply – took 24 hours to complete (on production clone).
There are many slides which explain their project, and I won’t repeat much here. The tool captures business transactions, in a minimum impact way, to a “software recorder.” These can be applied to a cloned system, which has been upgraded, converted to Unicode, or is running on a higher OS level.
Real down time from a user view starts when the primary system is shut down and the copy is caught up. Nike needed to apply many changes that went with their version upgrade, and then went through units of testing, essentially around the clock, meaning around the globe. Testing included not only business functions, but basic data internals such as row counts, and SOX-compliant audit steps.
The final results speak for themselves, given that the presentation was submitted prior to the project being completed. I later spoke to Paul Loos, of Oracle SAP support, who had been involved during the conversion, helping with the Unicode and other tuning phases. It was a long process, but very successful.
Lunch (see photo below)
Session – Lowes: Understanding Customer Demand
Alas, I was a slacker and showed up 10 minutes into the session, and it was full. Not just standing room only, but no one else allowed in the room. I will review the slides and make sure we put this on as an ASUG webcast soon.
Meeting – Hardware partner
With a little spare time at lunch, I met with a hardware partner, found out a bit about high availability scripts and the SAP notes behind them. I also talked database support, conversion and training. She thankfully protected me from having to talk to the sales types, who would not have been a good use of my time. To put it nicely.
Session – SAP Mobile Road Map
I won’t go into detail on this, as I won’t do it justice. Suffice it to say that the SAP/Sybase Unwired Platform may be the primary future for this topic, but definitely not the end of the story. Sami Lechner said, believably, no one can predict the Mobile market 12 months in the future, with the rapid pace of change.
Some tweets from that session I thought pithy:
- Market study shows like of an iphone app is less than 30 days – “speed, or usefulness”? #ASUG2011 #mobiletechnologies
- Sami Lechner from SAP showing mobility matrix, with web servcies, JDBC, Rest, BAPI wrapper, OData, Gateway. One ring to rule them all?
- “Manufacturer can lock the device down (the blue pill)” – also known as remote bricking a mobile device. #ASUG2011 SAP Afaria #sapphirenow
- “Android support rising fast.” “Android devices are now too numerous not to support” #asug2011 #sapphirenow
- “If you do mobile, don’t worry about technology”. Wonder if that’s my ASUG SIG hockey stick dilemma.
There were definitely “take home” trends in there, but I’ll need to refactor it for a more digestible message.
At the end of the session, many questions from the audience came up. I would have liked to record them all, but some of the topics strayed quickly into speculation as well as what competitors would or might do, such as Apple and Adobe. It seems as if SAP is heading down the HTML5 path, not Flash/Flex, but I’m not sure I could swear to that.
Session – 3PM
No one showed up for the session I wanted to hear, so I searched for a substitute and found “Harnessing the Power of Social Media to Improve Customer Service Operations”. Most of the audience was engaged, I thought, though not too many questions came in. SAP seems to have niche products in the “search and scrape” space around social media, along with a few customer cases, but the presentation was by SAP, along with a partner I think, not an ASUG customer centric presentation.
When I talked about Google alerts, the reaction was that was too primitive or something, which may be true, but over-engineering a command and control response to electronic “buzz” might be short sighted, or a risky investment.
One sad aspect to this presentation was the poor graphics visibility on the big screen. Speakers should remember to test things out on a projector, not just rely on how it looks on a desktop or even laptop. I had to guess at a lot of the content, which is not very persuasive.
The ASUG keynote was broadcast, tweeted, and will be analyzed by others. I led Jame Oswald right up front, where we got to sit in the second row, along side the ASUG Board, founding members, and the Board Chair and CEO. Definitely a good way to experience the content.
I liked what Anthony Bosco had to say, as well as Bridgette Chambers. I have reservations (“doubts” in SCN speak), about some of the execution tactics, but the strategy of building up membership and standing up to SAP is fine with me.
The ex-Disney CEO, though, was probably a very creative and talented guy, but I was underwhelmed with the stories and takeaways of his speech. Others may find it awe-inspiring, or good guidance. I just kept waiting for something he said to mean much to a team that runs SAP. The wrap up of “SAP and ASUG are good partners” was stretching a point quite to the breaking, um, point.
ASUG Speaker Orientation meeting – SRO (standing room only)
Registration line before the keynote started Monday morning.
The SAP Global Communications Center
ASUG SWAG – water bottles, carry bags, notebooks, and ped-o-meters.
The ASUG “booth”
SAP session on non-zero downtime upgrades.
A highly coveted seating spot by power outlet.
Lunch – chicken pot pie, macaroni and cheese, own spork.
For people who didn’t notice the sign, it says “ALUMINUM CANS ONLY”.
The infamous Tom Raftery.
Sign pointing to “ASUG LOUNGE”, with the ASUG “tv studio” behind.
Sami Lechner – doing the Mobile roadmap
Session on Social Media tools
The well dressed David Hull showing SAP Mentor jersey, and tie. We’re well into triple digits now.
ASUG CEO on stage.
John Astil waving to the camera; SAP Mentors evening recap.
Somnath, and me!
Butch, and me!
Graham, Steven, Sue, Derek, Karin
Pedi Cab driver Kathleen, and passenger.