The HANA Distinguished Engineers Council has good days and, well, other kinds of days like any other community group. But then there are the great days. That’s when a HANA industry rock star with serious chops and a community attitude is brought to our attention.
I’m happy to introduce the latest HANA Distinguished Engineer, Lucas Sparvieri, who already has five(!) HANA projects under his belt. He’s shared a great deal of his expertise with the community already on SCN, at Code Jams, and via his work with SAP Education pilot testing the HANA Professional Certification. Lucas is not just a HANA pro, but an all-around community dude. And that’s what an “HDE” is all about. Plus he took my pesky and nosey questions with a good sense of humor as you can see. Handling inquiring questions with good humor is clearly the top characteristic of any community leader, right? I think you’ll find Lucas’ comments in this Q/A on HANA skills and certification especially useful. Plus he explains about this up-and-coming firm GLOOOBAL and what the deal is with the “three ooos.”
Tell us about GLOOOBAL. Why are there so many “ooos” in the name and how has this firm come out of nowhere to be a recognized player in the HANA space?
Before founding GLOOOBAL, Stefan Schaffer (a.k.a. the Big Boss) was the COO of a startup in Silicon Valley. He had the idea of starting a new company, and when he heard about SAP HANA from some former colleges at SAP, he knew right away that HANA was going to be a revolutionary product and that it was going to change the way we think and design applications. So in 2011 GLOOOBAL was founded to become the first company to be focused exclusively on HANA. For me the journey started only a couple of months after the company was founded. I was working as a BW Consultant and was eager for a change. I met Stefan while he was in a business trip in Buenos Aires and after talking to him it was clear to me that HANA was going to be big and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity of being part of the revolution! At GLOOOBAL we have people with different skills that cover all the different aspects of a HANA project. We have BW experts, CRM consultants, ABAP developers, UI designers, Web developers and now, a HANA Distinguished Engineer (J), and we all work together like a big family. Regarding the three ‘o’s, it makes the company name easy to remember – especially, when you got a bounce back once you wrote an email address with only two ‘o’s.
Speaking of fast, how did you get into HANA so quickly? You have what – five HANA implementations already? How did that come together?
Well, allow me to explain that with a couple of examples. When I had only one week working at GLOOOBAL (meaning one week of experience in HANA) Stefan came to me and said: “see what you can learn about BW on HANA because in 3 weeks you are flying to Israel for a project”. So I spent the next 3 weeks reading day and night every single document that was available about BW on HANA. When I was back from Israel, he came to me again and said: “I was asked by SAP to build a nice use case for HANA on AWS, why don’t we develop a training?” This was a huge challenge, because we didn’t want to build just another HANA training, we wanted this to be an advanced, hands-on training, and we wanted to cover, besides modeling of course, all the cool features of HANA that are not covered in depth by other trainings (like Fuzzy Search, the UI Toolkit for Information Access, working with unstructured data, etc.). So I spent the following months attending trainings, to train myself but also to make sure we don’t overlap, reading documentation and trying different things in our Lab. After 3 months I came up with the first version of what later became the SAP HANA HA360 Hands-on Lab course. This was not only very rewarding, but it also gave me the opportunity to explore HANA in deep and learn about all the additional things that make HANA much more than just a columnar in-memory database. After building the training I felt like I could do anything, so we went out there to get more projects, and we were lucky to get some really interesting ones were we had the opportunity to use Predictive Analysis and Text Analysis.
How would you describe your HANA skills and project role?
I think my strongest skills are Modeling and Development. In projects I’m usually the HANA Architect, but I always end up doing a lot coding myself because I like it.
You had some prior experience with SQL, correct? Did that help you to learn HANA? What other pre-existing skills helped you get up to speed on HANA?
Absolutely, knowing SQL is a big plus. Besides SQL, way before entering the SAP world as a BW consultant, I spent many years modeling Data Warehouses directly on the database, without any abstraction layer like BW, so I had a lot of experience with tables, joins, procedures, views. I guess my point is, besides SQL, having experience in data modeling with traditional RDBMS is also a big plus.
You have worked with SAP Education about the Professional HANA certification – a certification which has been in existence for 4 months but few people seem to know about it yet. Tell us about that.
When we were in the process of selling the HA360 training to SAP, I was invited by SAP Education to be part of the Item Writing Session of the SAP HANA Professional Certification, but my wife was about to deliver our second baby around the same dates and of course I didn’t want to miss that, so I couldn’t travel to Walldorf for the writing workshop. But I was lucky to be part of the Standard Setting, which is basically a set of sessions where we reviewed all the questions looking for errors and rating them based on difficulty. I found very interesting the new approach adopted in some of the questions where you get a scenario with multiple requirements and you need to choose the answer that meets all the requirements. Regarding the questions, I would suggest going to the Certification web page and taking a look at the sample questions, if you are able to answer them correctly, most likely you will do great in the exam. A tip for those planning to take it, Modeling and Performance are the big topics, followed by Data Provisioning, System Architecture and Security.
What is your advice to those SAP professionals who want to get into HANA but have no idea where to start?
Of course attending the HA100 training is a very good starting point, followed by the HA200 or HA300 depending on your area of expertise. But besides that, a really good way is getting your own HANA system on the cloud. It’s really cheap, you only pay for what you use, and is the perfect way of getting some hands on experience. If you would like to know more about how to get your own HANA system please take a look at this link. Also, the documentation in the help site is really good (help.sap.com/hana). I know usually people don’t like to read guides but I strongly suggest taking a look at them. There’s of course a Dev Guide that covers most of the features in HANA, but there’s also a SQL Reference Guide for example, for those who don’t know a lot of SQL
What does being selected as a Hana Distinguished Engineer mean to you?
It’s awesome! This is a great opportunity. I cannot express how grateful I am. I will do my best to keep up with the challenge.
Which social network provides the most value to you (besides SCN) and how can readers find you there?
I’m addicted to Twitter, I spend a lot of time reading HANA related stuff in there. You can follow me @LukiSpa.
Tell us one thing about yourself the SCN community doesn’t know.
Well, like I already mentioned, I have a wife and two kids. I like to skateboard and to snowboard, although I’m not really good in the first one and hardly find the time to practice the second one, but at least I’m a decent snowboarder. I live in Buenos Aires when I’m not on the road. I also play the electric guitar in a band, but to give you an idea, I’m better at skateboarding. 🙂