Notes, comments, and kibbles, from the second day of ASUG 2011…
Monday, not too many business cards:
- C. David Wascom, Summit Electric Supply, new ASUG Board member
- Tina Scarbrough, Oracle, formerly part of Sun
- Dr. Heinz Haefner, SAP, SVP, Cross PM Technology (TIP), SAP Customer Engagement Initiative
- Andrew Juarez, Coca-Cola Bottling
- Thomas DeJuneas, Coca-Cola Bottling
- Kerry Gustason, General Mills
- Kevin Burke, Virtacode Systems
- Jeremiah Stone, SAP
- Dr. Rüdiger Kreuzholz, SAP
Meeting – Breakfast
I debated going to a 7:00 AM breakfast meeting, about a 2 mile walk from my hotel, and it was tough getting moving after being up late networking and blogging. The Redi Pedi cabs didn’t start riding until 7:30, so I hoofed it the whole way. Not only was the restaurant loud, as you can see by the photo the seating was not conducive to much conversation other than the 3 or people right by you.
Fortunately, I was seated next to Heinz, who is a senior vice president in the Customer Engagement Initiative function. After a quick meal, we chatted a bit about the current and future influence models, as depicted on a several page handout SAP had brought. I focused on short term changes and suggestion, rather than the longer term trends that are still served well by the Influence Council process. As has been said for many years now, the DRQ (development request) process is gone, with no voting having occurred on suggested topics for years. The replacement systems have waxed and waned, and I’m not sure there is a clear successor to that model yet. Heinz talked about Idea Place, which could be that primary channel for feedback. If so, ASUG volunteers need to understand how it works, and how our processes of SIG, Chapter and organizational communications can fit best, so we don’t become total orphans in this space.
We’ll see how this plays out, after proposed webcasts are broadcast. I’d take a poll of which ASUG members are using Idea Place, probably soon.
Keynote – Not
I tuned out the keynote in order to deal with other pressing issues, upload some videos to you tube, and network some more. So, if anything consequential was revealed, you didn’t hear it from me.
Session – DB2 Journey
Coca-Cola Bottling presented on their conversion from Oracle database to DB2 under most (if not all) of the SAP systems. Part of the session revolved around license concerns, which may vary from company to company, part looked at relative performance of the system under different databases, part was about before (4.6) and after (6.0) an SAP upgrade, and part was about storage space.
I could understand the logic around costs, but some of the space and performance issues I’d want to know more about to be able to judge whether the decision was effective or not. There was plenty of EarlyWatch dialog data, but whether ECC 6 performs better that prior versions may depend a lot on configuration and code being used, I would think.
One funny side bar happened on Twitter when I posted something about the DBA cockpit, which is not directly related to which database someone uses, but more about purported “improvements” in the later SAP releases. Simplifying access to may functions makes a lot of sense (though maybe not to a long time user), but calling this GUI “easy to use” could mask a lot of risk that good DBAs should understand and accept, or great damage could occur.
A lot to think about, including content that was not part of the core presentation, including the Performance Warehouse and BW on Linux.
Session – SAP Unwired Platform at General Mills
This was definitely a customer experience presentation, as General Mills had selected Sybase to connect their CRM system to mobile devices, through Netweaver Mobile, before SAP bought Sybase. Their project included rollout of working functions, tuning the transfer protocols, and advice on skills and processes for code development. Despite the hype that I’ve heard for maybe 30 years now, there is coding involved. Basic menus that would be produced by a code generator are not what people want or need, so more logic is needed.
The middleware complexity concerns me, particularly when their tuning methods revealed that was the bottleneck, not the remote network speed. Improving performance required cutting down on the amount of traffic being fed from CRM, and keeping the queues synched. Their use of rudimentary testing produced a great quote: “Still no tools to do load testing on SUP (that we know about). No way to simulate proprietary communications protocol.” That is somewhat ominous, given the ongoing churn with new products and communications protocols.
Someone asked about Afaria, SAP’s remote device management software; General Mills evaluated existing management tools, stuck with Exchange Active Sync.
Session – Implementing ITSmobile at Johnsonville Sausage
This session looked at more real world customer experiences with SAP technologies, where Johnsonville replaced terminal emulation software with something more GUI based. The mobile devices might be working class shipping process scanners, but the application smarts behind these business requirements are not elementary.
Challenges on the project were expected in certain areas, not all of which were an issue (e.g. browser performance compared to character based), but other issues cropped up that were unexpected.
I appreciated the tangential discussion about browser lockdown (“industrial browsers”), with certain features controlled beyond basic business requirements, like touch screen entry, and the debate about MS Internet Explorer vs. other solutions.
Session – SAP Extended Warehouse Management
Though I did not attend the entire session due to an appointment moved forward from Wednesday, I got a flavor of changes from “old” WM, current EWM, and future possibilities. In particular, the engine of SCM, including RFCs, CIF queues and related components are a familiar, if not too welcome, technology. On top of this core are various new capabilities, such as modified wave planning, that may be available in earlier, or competing, products, but the evolution seems to be well directed.
The scariest quote during the session (to me) was probably this one:
- The ERP Transportation Management integration in EWM is based on the IDoc interface already existing in SAP ERP.
I was quite surprised none of the dozen or more newer interface techniques (starting with web services and going downhill from there) were not mentioned or touted. But perhaps shipping is the old school of the SAP world.
Meeting – Sustainability
With a planned session for Jeremiah Stone to meet the SAP Mentors on Wednesday cancelled, I decided to meet him myself, as we’ve talked and corresponded for a year or so without actually being in the same place. Jeremiah works on SAP Labs out of Palo Alto, and after hearing comments from me about a “solution map” last year being hard to understand, he’s come up with a more interesting story pitch, about how the SAP sustainability products, including many environmental, health, and safety components, cover the entire enterprise. We only had about 15 minutes to chat at the end of the day as the show floor was closing, so I’m hoping to get back to these topics on Wednesday.
After Hours / Night Shift
- ASUG Volunteer reception, awards, food, drinks, networking
- DSLayered group tweet up in the Peabody. I think I won a T shirt as a consolation prize. I certainly topped the group in total lifetime tweets.
- Later dinner with Derek Loranca. Good conversation, sitting down, and more planning about future events and volunteer development.
Clockwise from lower left: Dr. Heinz Haefner, Rao Subbarao, Carlos Rios, Tammy Powlas, Jim Link, Beth Perry, Ina Lerner, JoEllen Fiorvante, Marco Dorn, Jenn Cofer, Per Högberg, Rich Huhn, Michael Dellutri.
DB2 presentation – flat line is good.
ITS – Mobile
Tuesday Mentor Meetup (from left): Somnath, Derek, Harald, Steven, Dave, Mark
Hidden: Sue, etc.
ASUG Volunteer reception
ASUG volunteer reception noodles, spork.
Jen, Derek, Tammy
Jamie, Derek, Jim
Jeff Duly, me