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“WOW, what a week!”

TechEd just came to an end and so I find myself decompressing from all the exciting stuff that happened the last couple of days. And while Vegas sure is always worth the trip and known for putting up a good show, this year we definitely had more than just one first-of-a-kind moment. But let’s take it easy and tell the story as it happened…

In his keynote on Tuesday morning Vishal Sikka presented SAP’s vison of the SAP HANA Cloud Platform, a platform that combines the speed and parallelization capabilities of SAP HANA and the ease of use and scaleability of the Cloud. Or in Vishal’s own words:

“[It is a platform that enables customers and partners] … to build applications that meet the needs of the new reality – lightning fast, instant mobile access, deep analytics with delightful user experience.”

It’s more than just a vision, though. It’s tangible! Because as Vishal continued:

“Putting SAP NetWeaver Cloud into the hands of developers today is a far-reaching first step toward that vision.”

With SAP NetWeaver Cloud (aka NEO) this vision is already a reality – NetWeaver Cloud is GA (= General Availability)! Those who watch SAP very closely have surely heard about this open, standards-based and modular platform a while ago, yet it may be safe to assume that many others got aware of it just now. Hence, with this blog I would like to introduce you to the new companion of our first lady (HANA.)

SAP HANA Cloud.jpg

Picture courtesy by Martin Gillet

HANA and NEO – The Perfect Couple

I apologize up front for referring to NetWeaver Cloud as NEO, yet as Vishal confessed during the Influencer Q&A session that followed the keynote: “It’s hard to not call it NEO“. (Especially, as we keep referring to HANA as our “little girl“.)

Anyway, the two are a perfect match as their individual characteristics complement each other. HANA, on one hand is lightning fast and capable of some serious multi-tasking, while NEO on the other hand is very approachable, easy to get to know and open-minded, in short: a jack-of-all-trades, if you will.

The way Vishal explained it, the SAP HANA Cloud Platfom comprises of the following components (bottom-up):

  • A RAM-Optimized Cloud Infrastructure,
  • SAP HANA DBServices and
  • SAP HANA AppServices.

Well, personally I feel the term “AppServices” is rather broad, and hence I hope the marketing department will take it easy on me if I refer to it as a runtime container with additional platform services/capabilities on top. I feel that may make it a bit clearer for the techies around.

So, let’s break this up and talk about how SAP NetWeaver Cloud – as the frontrunner – fits into this picture.

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Bring your own Language*

From a technical perspective we are talking about a JVM-based Platform-as-a-Service solution build on open-standards and Open Source frameworks/libraries. As I mentioned in a previous blog post I wrote for SAPPHIRE NOW in Orlando, one particulaly interesting and charming aspect of this approach is that a JVM-based platform supports a multitude of languages and programming models.

In general, everything that compiles to JVM byte code could be run: JRuby, Groovy/Grails, Scala, Clojure etc. Of course, it’s also possible to use the popular Spring framework and some community members already used server-side Javascript frameworks (e.g. Rhino) on NetWeaver Cloud. As such, this openness goes hand-in-hand with SAP’s ambitions to reach out to and attract as many developers as possible. Instead of being forced to use a particular language or programming model, they can simple use whatever they know or whatever they prefer. Or, as I heard Dennis Howlett referring to it in his interview with Vishal just the other day: for developers this translates to “bring your own language!” [Source]

Application Services and Capabilities

Of course, NetWeaver Cloud sits on top of HANA and hereby providing the full power of in-memory computing with the convenience and ease-of-use of a Cloud solution. Developers can access the database via the so-called Persistence Service, which adheres to the as-a-Service paradigm. Hence, developers do not really need to know nor care about database configuration etc. as the respective schema for an account/tenant is automatically provisioned to them. Worth mentioning that all of this is done in a standardized way, so no proprietary configurations or look-ups required. (I’ll talk about that aspect in more detail later on!)

There are plenty more services within SAP NetWeaver Cloud that makes developer lives easy such as the Connectivity Service (which provide means to access backend systems in a secure manner), the Identify Services (which enables setting up federated identity management and single sign-on scenarios), a Document Service (to access enterprise content management systems) and so forth.

On top of this runtime, SAP will introduce additional capabilities to address the common needs of applications such as mobile support, analytics, integration engines and collaboration tools. One of these capabilities has been launched in conjunction with NetWeaver Cloud this week: the SAP NetWeaver Cloud Portal, which simplifies the process of building appealing, mobile-enabled websites that connect applications, reports, and unstructured content from many sources.

/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/neo_platform2_148531.jpg
Picture courtesy by Martin Gillet

Lowering the entry barrier

But let’s get back to the story… we talked about Vishal’s keynote: NetWeaver Cloud becoming general available was not the only news of the day! Matter of fact, Vishal asked Bjoern Goerke to get on stage and share the good news: SAP now offers free perpetual developer licenses! Yes, you heard right… not limited in time… and free (as in beer!)

Everyone can get his own free developer license at our Developer Center. Depending on the speed of your network and whether or not you have Eclipse installed it may not take longer than just a few minutes. I recorded a video a while ago that walks you through the steps required…

So, as you can see there are no excuses for not giving it a test-drive, matter of fact, as Björn stated so eloquently in his closing part of the keynote:

“So SAP NetWeaver Cloud is here today. You should get a trial account. If there are three things I want you to remember, it’s try it out.”

On that notice, I’d really want to send a hat-tip and kudos to Anne Hardy and the whole TIDE team. You’ve been instrumental in getting to this point!

All Good Things Come in Three’s

Now, finally being in GA status and having free developer licenses would have been more than enough to keep an Evangelist happy for a while, yet the best is still to come. TechEd wouldn’t be complete without Demo Jam. Ever since Craig Cmehil invented the idea of running a competition in which developers would have just six minutes to wow their peers in the audience by showing cool demos (no slides!) the event became a highlight of TechEd events and must-attend session!

We had some great contenders again, but one group certainly stood out and saw standing ovations as they ended their demo. They call themselves the SAP Droids and they showed an application called Food Agent, which is a mobile app powered by SAP NetWeaver Cloud that allows to check the origin (and potential contamination) of food scanned in a local grocery store. Nothing to extra-ordinary you may think, well, then let me tell you that Angelo Castro and Nikola Bura are 11 and 13 years old. Right!

Now, you have to see this in order to believe and acknowledge, so without further ado, here’s the link to their presentation: Demo Jam Las Vegas – Food Agent

And because one can hardly get enough of these kids, here are two more videos (as I said, all good things come in three’s):

They ended up second place, but they were for sure the real winners of the competition!

So, if not the boys – who won then?

The team that walked away with the trophy were the guys from Keytree who awed the crowd with their “Store Trek” demo. In a nutshell, they created a very immersive home shopping experience by using a Kinect to walk-through a virtual 3D model of a grocery store. The whole app is using SAP HANA … and SAP NetWeaver Cloud of course! To be fair, the demo was rock-solid and impressive and they deserve winning this one. 

 

If we look at it from a technology perspective the winner was no other than NetWeaver Cloud. Not that I was surprised… matter of fact, I predicted it (without the help of predictive analysis running on HANA might I add!)

How did I know? Well, I witnessed the same at our internal Demo Jams at DKOM, the cool kids use NetWeaver Cloud. Hence, the way I see it, it’s simple: if we were able to win the hearts of developers at SAP itself – which probably is the biggest ABAP shop you could think of – then it should be doable within the ecosystem and beyond as well. Don’t you think?

Still, not convinced? Well, in part II I’ll talk some more about three good reasons why you should be: ease of use, speed and openness. We already touched upon some of these topics, but we barely scratched the surface yet….

Well, before I call it a day and crash out I’d really like to wrap this one up with a BIG SHOUT-OUT to the development and product teams in Walldorf, Sofia, Israel and Palo Alto, the GTM colleagues, SAP Research and last, but not least the marketing team! We’ve come a long way together and we made NetWeaver Cloud shine this TechEd. Really looking forward to even top that as we approach Madrid… this is just the beginning!
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17 Comments

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  1. Gregory Misiorek

    Hi Matthias,

    congratulations on your another very methodical and thorough blog with substance. i don’t want to steal it and maybe those in attendance will comment with their own impressions, but is it ok if i like “Neo” and “Netweaver” as brand names at the same time?

    i was also wondering if it is possible to get some kind of “free” access to ByD? the reason i’m asking is that i’m not a developer, and i’m not good at dealing with anything that is not around DR’s and CR’s, and i’m not sure if Neo does any of that.

    best regards,

    greg

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    1. Matthias Steiner Post author

      Thanks Greg – as usual you were first to leave a reply. I appreciate your continuous support!

      Surely don’t want to get into further naming discussions… I shared my 2 cents and “that’s all I have to say about that!” 😉

      Concerning your question: not entirely sure what you mean by DR and CR, but I assume you refer to “development requests” and “change requests”, right?

      Either way, it’s been quite busy over here, hence Im afraid I’m not 100% up-to-date with what the ByD colleagues are up to. I’d have to check… or you may turn to Anne Hardy – she may know more?!?

      Cheers,

      Matthias

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      1. Gregory Misiorek

        Matthias,

        i didn’t mean to be the first, but since your blogs are well above average of what gets posted on the SCN these days i can’t think of not finding anything interesting in it. the naming decisions are obviously made by the SAP marketing and trademark teams, so lone SCN voice is not going to make all that much difference.

        i have been accused of being “an accountant” previously and i don’t mean to elevate the profession here, just like i wouldn’t deserve to be called “an engineer”, but since i came to know SAP through accounting this is the prism of how i approach any product or development endeavor by SAP. to me, DR is for debits and CR is for credits (or Soll/Haben in the traditional SAP application), even though i’m familiar with change requests and development requests.

        it may not seem all that obvious, but what i’m really after is to keep those DR/CR’s under consideration whether for the existing or new platforms and development. this is especially important when going to market here in the US where the likes of NetSuite and Workday offer competitive products vis-a-vis ByD or FoD (By Design and Finance on Demand to keep the branding teams happy).

        i find HANA flexible enough to address DR/CR’s without much more clarification, but the attention devoted to ByD/FoD is rather lacking, which is leaving money on the table for the companies i mentioned earlier, IMHO.

        thank you for responding and for checking this for me.

        best regards,

        greg

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  2. Craig Cmehil

    As much as I would love to take the credit, the credit of creating DemoJam belongs to Shai Agassi and Jeff Word. I’d like to think that I helped increase the level of awareness and distinction over the years of being involved, but that is for everyone else to decide.

    Jeff, myself and Ian Kimbell the current host are all very proud of the event and each of us have dedicated ourselves to helping push it forward so it’s always great to see it evolve a bit more each year. The three of us met this year and talked a bit about it and the past and the present and the future and are excited to see the community respond so well to it after all these years!!!

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    1. Matthias Steiner Post author

      Thanks for setting this straight Craig, I’ll update the blog accordingly. Whoever invented it, I think you took it to the top and made it what it is! I like the spin that Ian gave to the show and while he had big shoes to fill in, he did! Happy that we got customers and partners in the show again…

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    1. Matthias Steiner Post author

      Thanks for the props Harald! How does the saying go: “Do good things and talk about it!” I think we did very well 😉

      Looking forward to continuing the party in Madrid …

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  3. Marilyn Pratt

    You’ve done it again Matthias Steiner ! You’ve managed just short of realtime to summarize for many of us an exciting week in SAPTeched LV.  And if HANA and NEO are now quite clearly a couple (did Elvis tie the knot?)  then you certainly are “best man” at that wedding.  More seriously: Thanks for a readable, enjoyable recap.

    Since you are in the business of predictions and you mention bring your own language (I know you mean coding language), let’s take this one step further and invite a “threesome” (all good things are in 3’s right, even for the happy new couple).  Let’s add mobile to HANA and NEO and look to make mobile apps that are language agnostic ….for the tech illiterate or language illiterate of the world .   Now that would be a birth many would celebrate.  So enhance your threesome of ease of use, speed, and openness with another important ask: accessiblity to the underserved by technology .  See you in Madrid and looking forward to more great content from you.

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    1. Matthias Steiner Post author

      Thanks soo much Marilyn for your kind worlds. Means soo much to me coming from you!

      Truth is a ‘threesome’ is no good: “you have to think bigger!” The NetWeaver family will continuous to grow. Cloud Portal has been the first to join, but s I sketched out the family planning is far from being complete… there will be mobile. analytics, collaboration, integration, social… you’ll hear more about this as we proceed from one TechEd location to the next.

      Oh, one last comment… I said NetWeaver family, in the modern times we live in it is not unusual to pick the maiden’s name 😉

      Looking forward to seeing you in Madrid and it would be super cool if you could get Slim to come too!

      Cheers,

      Matthias

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  4. Luke Marson

    Great job Matt! It’s an exciting time for the NetWeaver platform as it moves into the new era of Cloud. SAP recently presented some information on the NetWeaver Cloud Integration platform to me too and all-in-all I am seeing a lot of positives in this area.

    Best regards,

    Luke

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    1. Matthias Steiner Post author

      Thanks Nishan! As Björn said today in his keynote at SAP TechEd Bangalore it is very exciting times and especially in the Cloud space we are really just getting started – stay tuned! 😉

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    1. Matthias Steiner Post author

      Hi Carol, glad you found the content helpful and thanks for showing your appreciated with your comment – it’s that what turns a blogger into a “happy camper!” 🙂

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