Wow – this is huge! That was the first impression as I walked in to Orange County Convention Centre just after noon today for SAPPHIRE Day 1. This is a first time SAP event for me outside India and that too SAPPHIRE in US supposedly the most glamorous SAP event. Inneed it is – the space is HUGE but the layout and the setup is more impressive. The studios are big and the display boards above them are humongous. While munching lunch I did not fail to notice 4 big-sized projectors are working per display board. But at the same time comfortable couches and plenty of small meeting spaces all around the conference floor makes is very easy for small group interaction, discussion away from the din and bustle of the studios, partner booths. That balance is something missed at TechEd – but right in Day 1 that the focus of the event is completely different became apparent.
The sheer number of partner booths (230) and the variety of tools, techonologies, services is a far cry from TechEd Bangalore. Starting from big SI Partners to right down to smallest Custom Development shops, niche consulting firms all are here. Having missed the first half of the day and not anything specific planned for second half of the day, I took the opportunity to visit some Partner booths. Leaving the big SI Partner booths, I focussed on some of the smaller but niche ones – some I knew and wanted to visit while few others came across for first time. The sheer number and variety of partners show how large the SAP ecosystem has become with so many players not crowding per se but each trying to carve out its own niche. After all two-thirds of world’s economy runs through one or the other SAP applications. In no particular order the booths visited are – Hasso Plattner Institute, Infosys to meet my good friend Dr Asish Tewary who heads SAP Netweaver Technology Practice, Revelation Software who have launched an apps suite Salt, Hubwoo, Samsung who showcased their DDR3 30nm based RAM and SSDs (instead of HDDs) both of which provide Green IT, GOPA IT who have a demo on Transportation Management 8.0, SmartOps where I met David Kahn an ex-colleague in-person for first time, Click Software who has luanched ClickAppStore for mobile Business Apps, Vistex where I learnt there is a help.vistex.com (useful) and Hubwoo who provide cloud based SAP Source-to-Pay BPO services aiming to cross ARIBA in e-procurement exchange.
Mobility seems to have overtaken HANA as the main theme on show floor with almost all booths having a demo, solution, apps on a mobile device and mostly on an iPad. Between Mobile, In-Memory and Cloud which rides higher on customer midnshare is tough to tell at this time. Next of course comes LoB (Line of Business) with a number of sessions around On-Premise Business Suite and ERP applications and On-Demand with Business by Design, SME Solutions etc. Of course there are a number of iPad winning lucky dips going on – sometimes giving you a feeling of being at an IT / Electronics Trade Show instead of a technical event. While I maybe mistaken but Day 1 did not see any major announcement from SAP’s side – maybe tomorrow’s Co-CEO keynote would see some. But the Governer of Florida graced the event today which was a high point. For more news visit the official SAPPHIRE Now Pressroom.
With such an impression I could not forgive myself for not taking an early morning flight and delay coming into Orlando. Anyway tomorrow I shall be in the Center early to catch Co-CEO Keynote but I am really looking forward to Wednesday keynote by Hasso Plattner and Vishal Sikka. To see Hasso, one of the SAP founders in person is a cherished dream.
But one highlight of any SAP event is meeting people whom you have interacted heavily but meeting face-to-face first or probably second time. Networking is an integral part of any professional event like this, but meeting fellow Mentors around the world (we had mentors from Americas, Asia, Europe, Australia) is simply amazing and something I was looking forward to. So who did I manage to meet today – started with Vijay Vijaysankar at the IBM booth and later Abesh & Dipankar over lunch. Later of course some more – Jim Spath, Marilyn Pratt, John Astill, Martin Gillet, Michael Krigsman during SAP Mentor Daily Wrap-up session at ASUG Lounge. Not to mention Aslann who was for the most part was manning the Mentor Room at Hilton while Mark Finnern was sheparding (?) Mentors on show floor :D.
More tomorrow (technically today as its past midnight now) … Day 2.