I am starting my first blog on the revamped SAP Community Network with an apology as I planned to publish this blog before SAPPHIRENOW/TechEd Madrid but somehow never got to it. One of the perks of being on the HANA Distinguished Engineer Counsel is to introduce the accepted members to the public and I am honored to kick off my series with Serge Muts whom I am sure many of you know (he is pretty well known in the technical SAP community as he is/was a BASIS rock star).
I had the pleasure of working with Serge on several HANA client projects and he was an obvious choice for the first round of HANA Distinguished Engineers due to his expertise, skills and most importantly attitude displayed when working on those engagements. Serge works for SAP and when he is not supporting HANA engagements you can find him sharing his knowledge in training sessions at SAP conferences such as TechEd as well as numerous ASUG events around the country. He has also been instrumental in providing technical in-depth training sessions to partners and customers and now that he is a Distinguished Engineer we will be seeing him sharing more of his expertise with the rest of us via various channels e.g. HANA Academy.
Enough of me talking about Serge – let’s get straight to the source and ask the master himself:
Please provide some background information about yourself – how long have you been with SAP and what roles have you held during your tenure?
I have been with SAP for 8 ½ years. Started in the NetWeaver RIG as a technical expert, after 2 years became a platinum expert, and for the past 4 years chief architect – first in the RIG (Regional Implementation Group), later the RIG changed to CSA (Customer Solution Adoption). Before joining SAP I was a customer at Nortel Networks and I started my career at Baan.
When did you first hear about HANA and how did you get started with it?
I started on HANA in August of 2010, about 4 months before the very first ramp up of HANA started in November of 2010. I knew SAP HANA was being developed from attending an internal presentation on in-memory early 2010. I send a request to Margaret Anderson who was the head of the RIG (and now CSA) to see if I could make SAP HANA my next career move and she made it happen.
What was your first impression of HANA?
From the very first releases of HANA you could see the incredible speed. The other part was how easy some of the management tasks were, the first time I upgraded SAP HANA I was floored by how easy and quick it went.
What is your core competence in regards to HANA?
I focus on SAP HANA Operations / Lifecycle Management
How many customers have you helped with their HANA POC’s and/or implementations?
This is a tough one, over the past 2 years my estimate would be at least 50 customers across the globe.
Anything that stuck in your mind from one of your customer gigs – any memorable moments?
There are many. I traveled to China for one of the very first SAP HANA customers. Due to some delays we had extremely little time to get the environment working including load and replication from source systems. We completed everything with minutes to spare and the project stayed on track. It became a showcase at Sapphire in 2011, the customer shipped identical hardware as well as the IT engineers to Orlando. The engineers came off the flight from China and we went straight to work to install and configure everything again. Great team work, tight deadlines, man challenges, and a “can-do” attitude leading to great success.
What are some of the challenges that you faced?
Especially early on there were challenges on the lifecycle management side with backup and restore options, monitoring, and integration into LM tools. I marvel at the progress made by SAP development in the past 2 years addressing these challenges and expect this will continue. SAP HANA SPS3 and SPS4 made leaps forward, SPS5 will do the same in many areas of SAP HANA.
Shifting gears a little bit – what are your thoughts on the HDE initiative and what do you expect from it?
Knowledge sharing is key to innovation and making adoption easier, the HDE initiative can play a key role in openly sharing tips & tricks, how-to, pros and cons from expert’s experience in many areas. Considering the great expertise in this group I think feedback into development can be an important contribution as well. Not just to SAP development but also applications developed by partners.
What have you contributed so far as an HDE and what are your future plans?
After Vishal Sikka kicked of experiencesaphana.com in March I was one of the early invited speakers with the topic “How to architect for SAP HANA” (http://www.saphana.com/docs/DOC-1424). I also recorded a technical demo on “Failover Scenario BW powered by HANA “ when there was little documentation on the topic. This demo was actually the result of a larger team effort responding to the request of an HDE counsel member (John Appleby) to demystify this topic. The team delivered a Data Center Readiness workshop to a number partners in June, a testimony to John’s impact identifying the need. The demo can be seen here: http://www.saphana.com/videos/1603. In the future there are a few topics that are interesting. I did a partner workshop on HANA troubleshooting a few months back that could generate some useful blogs or videos. Another fun project might be investigating HANA connected to a tool like Splunk for IT Operations. Last but not least, in CSA we have used HANA in the cloud for the past year for workshop delivery, there are trips, tricks and gotcha’s to share on that as well. Plenty of options and I am also open to suggestions!
In your mind what are the must have characteristics of an ideal candidate for the HDE program?
There are many experts in SAP HANA and related components, however your impact depends on your willingness to share expertise that can help others. For me sharing what I have learned allows me to move on to something new and keep learning. I just checked my SDN history, seems like I wrote regular blogs since 2007, did regular webinars, and have spoken at every Teched since 2005 in addition to many other conferences. Sharing knowledge should be part of your track record, although I realize not every organization allows this. You also need to be able to consider the broader context for others. For example I can blog about a procedure for something new or not documented, however I need to also be clear in which circumstances to apply it and describe the technical environment I tested it in. The SAP HANA landscape with end user tools and data acquisition options can look quite different from one customer to another and generalizing can get you in trouble.
Why would anyone want to become an HDE – what was the reason for you to join?
I measure my efforts and contribution by the impact I make on customers, partners, and SAP. The HDE initiative will give me the chance to increase my impact further. As for the reason to join, I was listening to Vishal Sikka’s keynote in the speaker ready room at Teched in Las Vegas and all of a sudden I heard Vishal mention my name on stage. I knew about the HDE program but I had no idea I was nominated. Afterwards I found out Margaret Anderson had nominated me and I was accepted. It’s exciting and an honor to be accepted into the HDE initiative.
From the interview above you can expect great things coming from Serge. Special thanks going to Margaret Anderson for nominating him.