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I joined a virtual meeting yesterday at which I was able to fly around a 3-D rendering of the show floor at SAPPHIRE NOW from Orlando. Wow! We flew the camera around the Database & Technology campus, which I am managing for the event. Three things struck me that I think will make this year’s event even better than 2011.

The first was how approachable the exhibits are this year. At previous events the SAP campuses have been separated from one another, with only one logical route in and out. This year the campuses interlock and overlap, and you can walk in from pretty much any angle. I think that’s going to make for some really interesting crowd dynamics. It will also help attendees to see how SAP’s broader portfolio connects together; for example how databases link to analytics and platform technologies link to applications.

The second thing that struck me was the re-designed microforum areas. If you have never joined one, a SAPPHIRE NOW microforum is a loosely-moderated group discussion, on a key topic or best practice. Last year we used conference tables to host our microforums. The discussions were active and often crowded, but I wasn’t happy with the distance those long tables created between some of the participants. It was hard to talk as one group. The new furniture design is really cool. Each microforum area looks like a 21st century fire pit, with a close circle of seats for active participants and bar-style seating around it for listeners. Much more intimate, and I think much more effective for sharing ideas and expertise. This is good because there are more than 400 of these discussions scheduled around the show floor during the event.

Third, and probably the most noticeable change to the campus, is the SAP HANA test drive area. If you were at last year’s show you would have seen the hexagonal demo structure we put together for HANA. This year we have a custom test drive area with eight demo tables. You’ll know it when you see it – it looks spectacular. Each table has six chairs and will display hardware from one of our solution partners. The area as a whole is designed to cover HANA from top to bottom – analytics, apps, development, and administration, with topics such as Big Data, real-time business, consumer apps, start-ups, rapid deployment and ecosystem innovations sandwiched in-between. And it’s just part of the HANA presence in the campus – there are four additional discussion tables and two dedicated microforum areas for HANA too. These, along with the theater presentations and customer panels, will deliver a huge amount of information to SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG attendees – everything from calculating the value of a HANA deployment, to migrating and modeling data.

I hope you can join us. If you do, please plan to do three things:

  1. Attend the presentation by Steve Lucas on Monday at 11am in the Database & Technology theater. This will put the whole D&T portfolio into perspective for you. And Steve will rev you up for the rest of the conference.
  2. Visit the BW on HANA table in the test drive area. Moving a BW deployment to HANA is a quick hit, high value project which can benefit thousands of SAP customers. You’re probably one of them.
  3. Attend at least one of our HANA customer panels. All of our speakers have live HANA deployments and will be sharing their experience and advice. Don’t miss the discussions and the opportunity to network.

If you can’t make it, it’s not too late to register for the virtual event with streamed keynotes and theater presentations, at www.sapphirenow.com. If you do plan to be there, have a safe flight, and we’ll see you in Orlando!

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