I received word that our SAP HANA traveling demo was needed for a special event with Walmart. This was the Walmart Transformation Expo which was a thank you to Walmart for being our customer. This was a two-day expo where Walmart associates had the chance to come see and experience SAP HANA in person. We packed up a demo server rack to be sent off to Walmart’s corporate headquarter in Bentonville, AR.
A little background about myself. I have been with SAP since 1999 and have stayed within internal support. This opportunity gave me a chance to experience a customer facing engagement supporting Jeffrey Word of SAP Global Marketing who is the author of SAP HANA Essentials. Check out
ŸThe servers were setup with 3 demos available. The main demo (BW on SAP HANA) setup was completed by my colleague Rushi NS who performed the last minute configurations to the specifications of our Demo team and made sure all requested scenarios were functioning accordingly. The other demos were SAP COPA and S&OP. All prep work performed ensured a quick set-up at the site.
Flying SFO –> XNA
I wasn’t sure what to expect since I’ve never been to a customer site or Arkansas before. I received a long list of preparation material which was very intimidating. I was probably anxious about what was expected from me. Upon arriving at the Walmart headquarters, it seemed like a piece of Silicon Valley was picked up and placed here. Everyone at Walmart were friendly and always offered any help they could which took a lot of my worries away.
Day 1 – Home Office building
Here I am after setting up the 3 SAP HANA servers. Today was day 1 of the Questions and Answers portion. My role was simply to show that “SAP does run SAP”. Since I’m in IT, I see servers all the time. For those who have never set foot in a datacenter, it’s an amazing sight. I know this because the Walmart Associates passed me their mobile phones and asked me to take their picture. About 300 minimum pictures were taken that day…
The other SAP demo, people also provided answers to many of the basic to complex SAP HANA questions.
It was refreshing to see how SAP HANA could be applied to customers daily work life.
I was happy to add an IT perspective.
Day 2 DGDC – Cafetorium
Day 2 begins in the DGDC Cafetorium which was located a few blocks away. The equipment was transported here at the end of
day 1. We had two very special guests coming in, so I had to make sure everything was in tip top shape after the transport. There were a few hundred people there for the main event.
Day 2 was more of the same the first half of the day, meeting the Walmart Associates talking about SAP HANA. The initial disbelief is, can SAP HANA really complete tasks in seconds over hours? Of course it does and they were able to see it later that day. This was followed by cheers and shock at the speed. I was able to discuss some of the hardware with the Walmart Associates. Most were worried about space until we discussed compression of the data when it is converted over using SAP SLT.
There was a very special guest that flew out for this event.
Dr. Hasso Plattner! Co-Founder of SAP!
Dr. Plattner gave a little history and future of SAP.
The main event
Dr. Vishal Sikka!
All the intro and talk was over and it was now time to show the power of SAP HANA. During this time, a complex query was executed, on a standard backend system that takes hours to complete. I saw it first hand that query that used 10 years of Point of Sales transactional data was completed in less than 5 seconds. Shock from what was witnessed then cheers after made the room roar.
The end of the event
After the keynote, there was time left for more people to come and ask questions. Some of the people that came by the day before stopped by to say hello and see how we were all doing after two long days and hundreds of people passing through. They were really pleased to learn more about SAP HANA and running a database using memory instead of hard drive space. Not only was the speed impressive, but how data still remains after servers are shut-off or rebooted. Much greater technology than the old RAM Drives that were engrained in everyone’s mind.
All of the initial anxiety of providing face to face support to external customers was quite an eye opening experience. I learn, support,and use SAP products internally, but it’s a whole new world from the user standpoint. It was amazing to hear the experience and how much Walmart Associates were excited to use SAP HANA. I was sharing my experiences as an SAP Employee running SAP in my daily work life. But for now it’s time to fly back home.
As for me I flew back the day after the event, however the SAP HANA rack flew off to another location to tour across the United States.