As one of the back office SAP HANA Distinguished Engineer (HDE) team, I have one of the pleasures of introducing new HDE to the SAP world. While the selection process is a rigorous process with lots of potential candidates applying and being recommended, it is a great feeling for the team when we can introduce a new exceptional HDE to the SAP community and beyond.
Finally in addition to congratulating Tomas on becoming one of the first SAP HANA Distinguished Engineers, I would like to also congratulate him one been selected as a ‘Best of IBM 2013 honoree’ – one of IBM’s highest honors bestowed to a few people. Congratulations Tomas.
As way of introducing Tomas, I asked him to share his thoughts, experiences and some nuggets of knowledge with everyone based on a quick Q&A we had together.
What is your background? How long have you been working on SAP and SAP related technologies?
I am working in IT industry for around 13 years – started in 2000 as PHP developer. I started to work with SAP when I joined IBM during the year 2005 and was instantly charmed by SAP NetWeaver platform. Because I am really enjoying technical aspects working with SAP I profiled myself as SAP Basis specialist. I was advancing my career quite fast moving to SAP senior role in 2009 when I created and was leading project team that was delivering various SAP Basis related projects like Upgrades, Enhancement Package installations, OS/DB migrations and Unicode Conversions. Soon after SAP HANA was released to market in 2011 I started to fully concentrate on this technology. Currently I am leading group of SAP experts specializing on SAP HANA related services – both operational support and project based engagements like proof-of-concepts, migrations and integration of SAP HANA with other technologies.
SAP Consulting. Is it really the James Bond lifestyle?
Not really – there is definitely less shooting and for sure I am not having Aston Martin as company car. But who knows – maybe one day I will have it.
What was your first introduction to SAP HANA?
I first heard about SAP HANA during SAP TechEd 2010 Berlin and was (as everyone else) astonished by its demonstration during the keynote. One year later I was offered possibility to be involved in IBM internal project focused on SAP HANA as volunteering activity. I instantly agreed and spent our family vacation in mountains remotely implementing SAP HANA technology for the first time in my life. Since that moment there was no way back for me. Initially SAP HANA was new unexplored technology that offered many opportunities to go “where no man has gone before” (and to blog about that). Currently it is already well documented but constantly evolving platform that is still offering new things to learn. I am sure I will never get bored with SAP HANA.
What was your “AH-ANA” moment (that moment where you went wow)?
There were many of these moments – but some of them are special to me. First one was already mentioned keynote during SAP TechEd 2010 Berlin when I saw something that until that moment I considered technically impossible – full table scan over table having 4 billion records in 0,03 seconds. Second one was during SAP Sapphire 2012 in Orlando was when SAP announced their 100 node solution in Santa Clara delivered by IBM – this was when SAP HANA was proven to have ability to scale to high amount of nodes offering 100 GBs of RAM. Next one was during SAP TechEd 2012 in Las Vegas when SAP demonstrated that they managed to squeeze 1.2 trillion of rows in total volume of over 1 Petabyte of data inside SAP HANA and to report over that volume in just few seconds. And finally last special moment was when SAP announced new license strategy for SAP Business Suite on SAP HANA that is comparable to costs of other databases – license costs for SAP HANA database are 15% of maintenance fee – this is where SAP HANA is becoming very competitive offering from TCO perspective – this will definitely accelerate adoption rate of SAP HANA technology.
How easy was it to transfer your prior knowledge to SAP HANA?
Although SAP HANA is much more than regular database it is still based on similar principles as other databases. This allowed me to reuse much of my prior experience with other databases in SAP HANA world. However dealing with SAP HANA is not only about being database admin – there are also other components in this solution so I had to educate myself in areas where I was weak – like hardware, networking and GPFS – SAP HANA is appliance and all these layers are related to each other. In order to be able to advise our clients I also had to explore all other technologies connected to SAP HANA solution – like SAP BusinessObjects, Data Services and SLT replication.
What is your advice to someone with a similar background to yours that wants to get knowledgeable on SAP HANA? What is transferable and what do you need to learn new?
I would suggest getting your hands on SAP HANA as soon as possible and starting playing with it. SAP is offering developer editions in cloud (see http://scn.sap.com/docs/DOC-31722) where you can get your own environment and you can begin with learning SAP HANA in practical way. In parallel to this you should read about SAP HANA to understand its theoretical principles – you can attend SAP courses about SAP HANA (https://training.sap.com/cz/en/curriculum/hana-g-en), you can watch videos in SAP HANA Academy (http://www.saphana.com/community/implement/hana-academy), you can read official SAP HANA documentation (http://help.sap.com/hana_platform) or you might read SAP HANA RedBooks publication where I contributed 😀 (http://www.redbooks.ibm.com/abstracts/sg248086.html).
What drives you to be an avid community participant? Why is it important to you?
This is tough question. I am not having any particular reason why I am active in community and why I am trying to improve SAP HANA technology. Maybe it is related to the fact that my mother was a teacher and I am having her genes (I love educating myself and others), maybe it is related to my curious nature – who knows. Somehow I am having it in my DNA – I might sound naive but I will never stop trying to make things right and to help others regardless of how difficult it might be. I started with contributing in forums, then experimented in writing the blogs, later got opportunity to contribute to SAP HANA related book and last to be involved in SAP HANA related session during SAP TechEd 2012 in Las Vegas and Madrid. I am sure there are many other ways how I can contribute and I plan to try all of them. 🙂
In your opinion working in consulting, what makes a good SAP HANA consultant?
First you should be understanding SAP HANA technology really well so that you can explain all aspects of SAP HANA – principles on which SAP HANA is based on, existing use cases, different deployment options, etc. You should be able to explain to customer that SAP HANA is not only about solving performance problems but about new business opportunities that can differentiate them from their competition, that re-thinking of whole business problem from beginning and leveraging SAP HANA technology can be more rewarding then simple porting of existing functionality and you should be ready to complement this by various examples where SAP HANA helped. You should be able to understand and properly manage client expectations – SAP HANA hype can cause that clients are having unrealistic expectations and it is important to set the expectations to the right level straight from the beginning – otherwise even successful project can be seen as failure because client expectations were not met. And last but not least you should be able advice customer how to approach their problem from technical perspective and you should be able to involve specialists on individual areas because SAP HANA implementation is not “one-man-show” job but rather team effort.
What are your next areas of SAP HANA focus and what can we expect to be hearing from you on in the near future?
I am afraid I cannot share this at this moment – hopefully around SAP Sapphire this year you will know. 🙂
If you had a lot more free time, what big items would you play with next?
Since I am SAP Basis person I would stay in this area. SAP LVM (SAP NetWeaver Landscape Virtualization Management) is technology that has big potential however currently it is not having adoption level that it deserves. If there would not be SAP HANA I would probably be involved in this area.
Will we see you at the upcoming ASUG/Sapphire event?
I have plans to be there. I’m also planning on helping out with the ASUG SAP HANA pre-conference running on May 13th with other HDEs.
Like accepting at the Oscars, except without the gold statue and the celebrity introduction, would you like to say a word of thanks to anyone?
Absolutely – there are many that supported me during my SAP HANA adventure and without them most of what I achieved would not be possible. I would like to express big thanks to:
– my wife, kids and whole family for tolerating my working habits and supporting me as much as they can
– my IBM management (especially to Lubor Fedak and Ivo Kosir) for their unlimited support and going extra mile to help me
– my mentors (especially to Charles Kichler and Vijay Vijayasankar) for their leadership, support and for connecting me to the right people
– my IBM colleagues from IBM SAP International Competence Center (ISICC) – Gereon Vey and Irene Hopf for always finding time to help me out
– my IBM colleagues from IBM Lab for SAP Solutions – Gagandeep Reen and Dale Young for starting SAP HANA project in IBM
– my fellow SAP Mentors and our wolfpack leader Mark Finnern – for opportunity to become SAP Mentor and for their help and guidance
– all customers implementing SAP HANA – without you all of this would not make sense
<< It is noted that Tomas did not thank the Hollywood Foreign Press, his agent or the HDE back office team… hmmm 😉 >>
Thanks Tomas. You can follow Tomas on Twitter at @krojzl and in the SAP HANA, HDE and SCN Communities.