Skip to Content

The SAP HANA Real-Time Race is on at SAP TechEd Las Vegas!

I blame Carsten Nietzsche from IBM for it all. Some day around 10 weeks ago we were talking about migrating SAP’s leading EDW product, SAP NetWeaver BW, from a legacy RDBMS like Oracle, onto SAP’s revolutionary in-memory database, HANA.

And we were talking about how cool it would be to do live, in November, at SAP’s annual conference, TechEd Madrid.

I blink, 10 weeks have passed and I find myself on a plane to SAP’s October conference in North America, TechEd Las Vegas. In the meantime we have another SI to compete with my company, Bluefin Solutions, real customer data based on SAP’s live planning tool, Business Planning and Consolidation, BPC10. Instead of a corner, we are in the middle of the show floor, with huge 2TB SAP HANA appliances provided by Cisco/EMC and IBM. Oh, and we are on the keynote.

Legal got involved at some stage and told us the WWE wouldn’t allow us to use the name SI Smackdown, and we had to use an “unnamed” SAP RDBMS and not Oracle. Yes, we learnt how to use the SAP DB in 2 days and it is pretty cool.

It moved from a technical activity to a real-time business race, where we race to beat the customer’s KPIs that they have set – from a real-world system. Customer ConAgra will vote on the SI they show to have done the best job and that SI will be paid by SAP to come and do it for real.

SAP co-conspirator David Hull and I have gone through the gamut of emotions, from excitement, fear, anger, pain and fury. Occasionally all at the same time, on a 1-1 call at 11pm. At some stage it got described as “all your fault” 🙂

SAP VP of HANA Thought Imagineering Jeff Word described it as “possibly the greatest thing ever to happen at TechEd… or a complete train wreck”. And that is exactly the show we are giving you. You will see a migration – with all the challenges that a highly skilled technical activity has – warts, tears, expletives and all.

And to give an idea of how it has been, I emailed my management team last Friday to say I was going to personally babysit the project 24 hours a day until it was over and was flying out to stand in a dark room in the basement of SAP’s Newtown Square office.. That ended badly on Friday night when I fell asleep at my Mac and knocked a litre of water over her.

It has been a roller-coaster that continues even as I fly into town. But with 36 hours to go, we have all the equipment in place – flown from the 4 corners of the globe, 2 SIs, source system databases built with love, customer data and – I hope, because we will need it – some good luck and the following wind.

I have been an orchestrator rather than a hands-on participant but I will be hanging out in TechEd if my colleagues Lloyd Palfrey and Tristan Colgate need me – either to pitch in to fix technical problems or to nix competitor Optimal Solutions’ attempts. I am available to do whatever is required!  So here is my call to action. We believe that HANA is the most awesome database platform for BW and whilst Sybase ASE is an awesome RDBMS, HANA will kick ASE’s butt on performance, and this will translate to real world business benefits.

We believe it is so stable that we are willing to do a highly technical migration from one platform to another in front of a crowd of 6000 on-site and as many again remotely.  If you think one SI is cooler than the other – Bluefin hint hint – then come and contribute your coolest tech tips. They may need all the help they can get and we have prizes for the best rated tips.

And let’s face it the competitors from Bluefin Solutions and Optimal Solutions have great big brass balls. Come and support us, and come and drop by to see me on Wednesday 17th October, at the Database & Technology showcase, from 1pm until they drop.


Jon Reed always ribs me for taking all the glory, but none of the glory is due to me here. I’m sitting here, figuring out how I am going to thank everyone involved. In no particular order:

SAP: DAVID HULL for being a legend, Vishal Sikka, Aiaz Kazi, Amit Patani, Scott Leatherman, Ken Tsai, Jennifer Lindstaedt, Anil Saboo, Vitaliy Rudnytskiy, Michael Eacrett, Thomas Jung, Rich Heilman, Patricia Faissol, Mary Kwong, Craig Cook, Elena Sents, Steve Lucas, Scott Jones, Chip Rogers, Craig McConnochie, Mimi Spier and so many more.

SAP IT: Oliver Bussmann, Michael Golz, Martin Lang, Greg Thomas, John Astill, Dan Sprissler, Dan Tonetta, Ryan Duncan, Bob Trojak, Todd Tebay, Paolo Car, Dan Schaefer, James Hagan, Todd Tebay and an intern called Dominique.  IBM: Tag Robinson, Rohail Noor, Nitin Makwana, Balaji Govind, Courtney Prime, Craig Meades, an Powell, Lawrence Cooper, Mark Trimble, Matthew Clark, Matthew Teague, Sarah Christopher-Brice, Chad Cracknell, Nick Allaway, Simon Fraser, Irene Hopf, Carsten Nietzsche, Tomas Krojzl, Vijay Vijaysankar.

Bluefin: My management team for putting up with me getting increasingly grumpy, my colleagues, Meggie Kelly, Cheryl Coulby, Sophie Toner, Kevin Turnbull.

And all the guys at Cisco/EMC and Optimal Solutions. And a special thank you to David’s wife for putting up with all this. And everyone else I forgot. You all rock.

You must be Logged on to comment or reply to a post.
  • What a really great idea and good luck to everyone involved. I not only love the competition between two SI's but to have the customer be the judge and the winner (both of you will ultimately be winners with this type of publicity) to get to do the project after is awesome.

    Now who do I have to talk to to set up a SAP HCM challenge for Sapphire 🙂

  • I feel super honored to be in a good part guilty of this. It was a huge fun to just spin off an idea and see how it evolves in record time. Now let the games begin ! May the better one win which by default should be Bluefin !!!!! Thanks to everybody who made this possible really in record time !