Continuing our pre-TechEd/d-code rush of SAP HANA Distinguished Engineers is Wenjun Zhou. Wenjun really embodies the HDE value of Restless Curiosity, with fascinating blogs such as Play the game of life with SAP HANA and Window function vs. self-join in SAP HANA. He is also one of the most prolific answerer of questions on the SCN forums. It’s great to see people playing and encouraging others to have fun on HANA.


Please welcome Wenjun to the HDE community!


Tell us a little around your background in the industry

I studied computer science at Technical University of Berlin as well as Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and got master’s degree from both. When I studied in Germany, I worked as student research assistant in “Berlin Cloud Infrastructures” research group for one year. It’s the first job in my life. After I came back to China, I worked as software development intern at Intel for eight months.

In June 2011 I joined SAP, Co-Innovation Development – China (formerly known as DNA) and worked as researcher till now. During the past three years, everything I did is related to SAP HANA. I participated in dozens of SAP HANA PoCs in various industries including telecom, banking, hi-tech, security, etc. and most of them are located in China. Meanwhile, I also focused on building SAP HANA native applications and have already built a lot of new applications based on SAP HANA.

I took a mini-fellowship in Palo Alto in June 2013 and built a smart application based on SAP HANA One, namely real-time sentiment rating of movies. This application was popular and appeared on the homepage of SCN at that time. In addition, it’s also displayed on SAP Big Data Express Bus. Recently I’m rebuilding this smart app with pure SAP HANA XS.

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How did you get into the SAP HANA space?

As the name of my team implies, Co-Innovation Development – China is mainly focused on the SAP HANA co-innovation with local customers and the development based on SAP HANA. So, I started to play with SAP HANA on the first day I joined my team. I’m really a fan of SAP HANA. I use SAP HANA Studio every day and now it’s my best friend. I still remember my first application was building an export tool of SAP HANA with JDBC and SAP HANA was just SPS02 at that time.

What advice would you give to people looking to learn SAP HANA?

First of all, you need to learn some basics of database and SQL at least. Without that it’s difficult for you to learn SAP HANA.

Then you can jump into SAP HANA. Although there are huge amounts of learning materials of SAP HANA, what I highly recommend is http://help.sap.com/hana. It’s free, public and official. You can find almost everything from this entry point, e.g., SAP HANA SQL reference, SAP HANA Developer Guide, SAP HANA Administration Guide, SAP HANA Academy, openSAP, etc. Please bookmark this link and believe me it will become the best friend on your way to SAP HANA expert.

Finally you need to practice. Practice makes perfect. Reading materials and watching videos are theoretical and not enough. Since the CloudShare 30 day free trial is no longer available, you can play with SAP HANA Cloud Platform trial. Get a developer account right now. Or you can play with SAP HANA developer edition and have a look at the step by step tutorials.

Can you tell us a little about the projects you are working on right now?

Currently I am working on telecom solutions with SAP HANA. We are now building a prototype of telecom solutions based on SAP HANA XS. In this new application, we also use predictive analysis library, text analysis, geo-spatial to leverage the power of SAP HANA advanced features.

Besides projects and PoCs, I also lead a virtual team named “HANAGeek” which focuses on sharing the knowledge of SAP HANA locally. We’ve already post a lot of blogs on SAP HANA (Chinese). It’s very helpful for SAP HANA learners in China.

Tell us about one of your HANA war wounds!

Two or three years ago, since SAP HANA was still in the early stages, sometimes it’s really difficult for us to do PoCs. As you know, the dataset is huge in telecom industry. In those days we confronted various problems when importing telecom data into SAP HANA. The only solution is reporting bugs and waiting for fixes. Besides without some features like window function and scalar UDF, we had to use some workarounds like self-join. With the rapid development of SAP HANA, we have no such issues any more.

Regarding development, privileges were the nightmare when I started to use modeling and XS and the error message “Insufficient privileges” is my biggest enemy in those days. So, I decided to figure out the authorizations/roles/privileges in SAP HANA. It really took some time for me to learn this stuff, but it’s worth doing this. No pain no gain. Now I’m not afraid of privileges any longer.

What do you see in the future of HANA?

In my opinion, in today’s era of big data SAP HANA has a bright future with its powerful in-memory platform. Asyou know, SAP HANA has lots of advantages/features such as column store, compression, parallelism and so on which I won’t describe in details here. There is no doubt that SAP HANA can process the big data in real-time, but what I am interested in is that with SAP HANA, what we can do that we couldn’t do previously to make our life better. Like Dr. Vishal Sikka said in the openSAP course, “The only limitation is our imagination”, I always remember and believe this.

If there was one change you could make to HANA, what would it be?

Add more functions in information views. Although you can implement most SQL functions with the current existing functions in information views, sometimes you need to combine several functions and write more code to implement one SQL function which you really need in your calculated column.

Tell us a bit about yourself outside of HANA and work

I love traveling and had visited more than 20 countries when I studied in Germany. I was married last year and my biggest wish is visiting those places again with my lovely wife. 🙂 Besides I like playing tennis, jogging, watching movies, singing, reading/writing technical blogs, learning new technology and so on. Recently I’m keen on MOOCs such as openSAP and openHPI. I enjoy learning new things.

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