Last Wednesday, March 13th we had over 200+ participants from SAP locations across Ontario take part in our first Developer Kick-off Meeting (DKOM) at our very own SAP Waterloo Lab. We kicked off our day with Doug Hern (VP Emerging Technologies at SAP) highlighting some of the group’s accomplishments including software releases within HANA’s Real Time Data Platform (RTDP), SAP Mobility Platform (SMP), and Point-of-Sale (POS) products.
Doug parted with the following famous scene from Ferris Buhler’s Day off and welcomed Jeff Nesbit, Head of Partner Engagement from Communitech to speak about Waterloo Region’s Technology Innovation Ecosystem. Jeff painted the transformation Waterloo has had from its manufacturing past (home to Seagram’s, Hush Puppies, and Electrohome to name a few) to the tech cluster it has become today. Jeff reasoned the way our region nurtures and supports tech start-ups is a natural extension to our farming, barn-raising community heritage that differentiates us from other more cut-throat startup ecosystems. Finally he outlined some exciting new digital media and mobile initiatives underway within the region putting Canadian companies on the global stage.
We were then taken into the world of the HANA RTDP by Dave Neudoerffer (VP Engineering at SAP). Dave wowed us with some pretty cool live HANA demos (for example – have you ever seen someone drill down with ease into real time cell phone spatial data in Europe?). He also explained how the HANA RTDP was built upon existing innovations within SAP, combining Sybase DNA (i.e. expertise in data storage and data movement technologies), in order to enable a broader spectrum of application use cases. In layman’s terms the HANA RTDP can essentially cover whatever data you may have (structured vs. unstructured for example), however you may want it served up (frequency, volume, etc.).
To round off our morning we then heard from Ed Bourne, Enterprise Mobility Architect at BlackBerry. Ed of course had to show off all the cool new features of the Z10 (side note: I was sad that he didn’t have the bright red version I saw their CEO use at a conference in the previous week). He highlighted the work vs. personal perimeters of the phone that truly sandbox corporate vs. personal data — a clear differentiator BlackBerry has over other smartphones. He also demoed an application that uses BlackBerry’s Invocation Framework (iF) — a framework that can for example have one application request another to perform a specific task. It was clear to see that care and detail have gone into the latest BlackBerry release, perhaps a testament that good things are worth waiting for?
We then spent our lunch and early afternoon connecting with our Palo Alto lab counterparts, watching live keynotes given by SAP’s cofounder Hasso Plattner and current CTO Vishal Sikka. They reiterated how important it is for development to stay close to the customer through applying the principles of Design Thinking to their everyday work. What struck me was the honesty and integrity both keynote speakers addressed their audiences with – never whitewashing but highlighting strengths while challenging improvements, a true demonstration of SAP’s vision to make the world run better.
Finally – if our day wasn’t more jammed pack than it could be we ran several breakout sessions in the remaining time focused on Viability, Feasibility, and Desirability topics for development ranging in topics from oData to Canadian Real Life HANA customers to Scrum to Autonomic Computing in SAP Sybase SQL Anywhere. We truly covered the gamut of development topics. Did I also mention we had demo pods during the day focused on various topics covered by Support, Business Warehouse (BW), POS, and SAP development processes? We truly used every minute we could to exchange expertise and collaborate on a provincial level.
So what about the reference to Ferris Bueller at the beginning of our day? Well like Ferris, our development team had 1 real day off (from coding, bug fixing, product planning etc.) to engage with the greater (SAP development) community outside of their everyday, in a FUN environment. I witnessed the importance of this greater collaboration when I saw a SQL query optimization expert collaborate with a HANA sales representative on a real-life customer problem. These two would never cross paths in their everyday. This collaboration instance was one of many I saw throughout the day.
Our day can only be summarized by the following adapted famous quote from Neil Armstrong,
“One small step closer to the product, end user, and business for our development, one giant leap for mankind”.