Tamas Szirtes, HANA Distinguished Engineer and Linguist
When we created the HANA Distinguished Engineer program, we imagined that for each HDE, we would align it with a HANA Revision. At this time, there was a HANA Revision every two weeks and so we could easily appoint 20-25 a year. Unfortunately, SAP’s HANA Revision strategy is now focussing on fewer, more stable, Revisions.
This is good for HANA and good for the market, but not so good because we have a bunch of HDEs just waiting to be announced. So it’s time to scrap the policy and announce our next HDE! Next up is our first Hungarian HDE, Tamas Szirtes. Tamas works for partner Intenzz Group in the Netherlands.
How did you get into SAP and the SAP HANA space?
When I was a teenager I had absolutely no idea what to study. I had very good grades, so I could practically choose anything, but I didn’t know what to do with my life. Some people told me to study business saying “at least you will make money”. This sounded reasonable, so I went to a business school and found out that many people were there for the same reason 😉 My interest for computer science grew gradually, eventually I studied it too, but still, I almost became an investment banker. Luckily I was sent to a one of the best whole-day assessment centers in Germany and my assessment was done by the boss of the company himself and he told me that investment banking was not the best choice for me, he can picture me better e.g. as an SAP consultant. This really surprised me, but a good friend of mine was already telling me about how great SAP consulting was, so I decided to give it a try. It was 16 years ago. I started with R/2, moved to Java and web technology, Portal, BPM, Mobile and HANA. Now I am Director Innovation and Technology at Intenzz Group. We started to focus on HANA from the beginning and as I have many colleagues who are experts in BI, I have decided to deal with the “other” parts of HANA. Things like XS, UI Integration Services, SAP River, mobile development on HANA, Hadoop integration, Lumira Server and HANA Cloud.
What was your first introduction to SAP HANA?
Few years ago, when HANA was just starting, as head of the integration team inside Intenzz, I was thinking what possibly HANA can mean from an integration point of view. As mobility was another hot topic those days, I started to talk to a lot of people about what mobile applications could be developed for HANA. Eventually I created a monitoring solution, which, few versions later, was implemented at some customers as well. I was impressed how easy it was to get started with HANA so I got more and more excited about it as I progressed.
What advice would you give to people looking to transition from classic SAP to HANA?
HANA has developed into a platform, which can be used in multiple ways, so it can be difficult to decide where to start and how to start. I recommend to get an introduction (e.g. on saphana.com) and think about what it means for your own current expertise area. Are you an ABAPer? Look into development techniques on HANA. Are you an HR consultant? Read about Business Suite on HANA. And so on. I think there are many people like myself who like to try things. In this case you can get access to a Developer Edition for free. Define small goals for yourself. Log in. Create a table. Put data into the table. Read the data. Doing these little hands-on exercises gives feeling of success and allow you to read further and learn about more advanced topics as well.
Can you tell us a little about the projects you are working on right now?
I always work on multiple projects at the same time. I am currently busy with phase 2 implementation of SAP River for NetApp. (Check out the video about it.) I am working on integration of SAP HANA and the Intel Distribution of Hadoop via Smart Data Access to Hive and I am planning to set up the Lumira Server again. I am also doing a SAPUI5 project for one of our HANA customers.
Tell us about one of your HANA war wounds!
I think phase 1 of my SAP River project was crazy enough to talk about. I have followed developments in this space since 2012 via ad-hoc meetings with people I know from SAP Labs Israel. This year I talked to them again at TechEd Las Vegas and realized that our customer, NetApp could benefit from SAP River. SAP offered a unique chance to use SAP River for the NetApp project already before River was announced by SAP in TechEd Bangalore 2013. I just had to do the development in 10-15 working days… I got excellent support from SAP, I put all my effort into it day and night and eventually it became a reference story of SAP River featured on http://www.sap-river.com too.
What do you see in the future of HANA?
I think more and more applications will make use of HANA. Not only running on HANA, but really using the power of HANA. The business case for companies will grow to the point that it will be a no-brainer to implement the HANA platform. I am especially curious how HANA will develop in the non-SAP world, e.g. among startups. These initiatives could shake up the industry beyond the established SAP world. This is really exciting and I am optimistic about it seeing the impressive development so far.
If there was one change you could make to HANA, what would it be?
This is a very difficult question. I think I would add further native libraries into HANA, e.g. Artificial Intelligence so that SAP can create applications which are comfortably superior to anything else on the market.
Tell us a bit about Tamas outside of HANA and work
I was born in Budapest, Hungary. I have lived in Germany, USA (California), Belgium and now, for 10+ years in the Netherlands. My wife is from Mexico, so we are quite an unusual mix. I have two daughters and we raise them with 4 languages (Dutch, Spanish, Hungarian and English). I really enjoy playing with them and reading for them. When it comes to vacations, I like to travel, especially to experience how people live in very different places: e.g. a taxi driver in China, a religious Jew in Jerusalem, an engineer in Bangalore, a professor in Mexico, etc.