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You might be asking already what unites all of the above? OK, I’ll tell you right away – it’s a week or so of the first of its kind SAP CodeJam tour with HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) in South Africa.

Indeed, couple of weeks ago, Alexander Silgidjian and I, together with our colleagues from the University Alliances team in Africa De Wet Naude and Kwena Mabotja, ran a series of 5 CodeJam events at 5 different universities in 4 South African cities in just over 7 days. Now, I haven’t checked all possible statistics but this should be some kind of record and is certainly the first ever touch base for HCP in Africa. What is more important is that we reached out to more than 150 students from those 5 universities who got the chance to get introduced to and interact with SAP’s cloud platform, for most of them the cloud in general being a completely uncharted territory. And the highly positive feedback we got after each event truly justified our efforts and made us really happy that we helped make a lot of new HCP friends in yet another corner of the world!

Each event usually started with a welcome message from De Wet or Kwena where they also briefly introduced SAP and the University Alliances program. Then we also briefly explained what SAP CodeJam and SAP Developer Center are all about, and gave an overview of SAP HANA Cloud Platform so that attendees could have an idea of what they could do with it. After that, we showed them how it looks like in practice by using some of the sample apps coming with the SDK and then they were excited to follow along with the exercises and play around with the platform.

I should also mention that most of the students were Information Systems major and only a minor part studying Computer Science, therefore most of them did not have much programming background (especially not with Java and server-side applications), nevertheless they got the ideas fairly easy and soon some of them were confident enough to modify and explore different alternative routes. For example, at some of the events some students worked in groups and researched the JPA API to implement additional functions into the applications. This might sound trivial for someone with a fair knowledge of JPA but for the folks who were hitting it for the first time it was a big step. And they even made an impromptu competition out of it to compete for who gets it done first. Some of them also tried to hack the apps with SQL injection – of course, without success. 😉

We also had some good discussions about potential real-world use cases for HCP (even about a prospect customer) and a few students also came up with interesting ideas for startups implementing apps/solutions to address specific local challenges. I’m really curious to see at least some part of it materialize at some point in time. Almost everyone indicated that they would love to continue learning and hacking HCP (which as we all know is absolutely possible for an unlimited time with a free developer account), so there are chances for it to happen…

At the end of some of the CodeJams we also showed the HCP Feedback Service and used it to build a small app to collect and analyze feedback from the attendees about the event and the platform itself. Here is some of it (only the nice parts of course… JK… it’s all nice 🙂 ):

“It is my first time to interact with JAVA development so my confidence started low but the instructors are more than willing to assist on everything. I will continue with the tutorials even after this session as it will help with acquiring a new software development skill. I am grateful to the department/university for organising this and to the SAP HANA team for taking the time to share their knowledge.”

“Good Day, Its a pleasure to have had a hands on experiance. In my opinion, it was not something that we expected.”


“I loved it. The course was insightful with step by step guidance. Every now and again it was hard to keep up but all in all. Thumbs up.”


“Liked it very much when I got the code and proper outcome. If I can do it a little longer with the help of the online tutorials and other materials it would be of immense benefit, I feel. SAP guys are awesome, thanks gentlemen.”


“Very informative session. I could relate to most of the concepts and I learnt a lot of new stuff. The speakers/presenters were very knowledgeable and they explained the steps well.”


“I enjoyed the SAP CodeJam. I found it rather interesting learning all these new things. Only downside was the slow internet connection, which made it difficult to complete the tutorials. The presenters presented really well, too. Thank you, Alex and Vlado”


“This is pretty impressive technology, that I can see some benefits for (if programming in Enterprise Java).”

“The instructors were friendly, enthusiastic and knew their subject well. They were always ready to help and never made a student feel silly for asking a question. The downfall of the day came in not being able to complete very many exercises, because of connectivity problems. Thank you so much for visiting NMMU and please remember us for any future events. We are always eager to learn more.”

Last but not least, I’d like to thank all five host universities – University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Belgium Campus (BC), University of Pretoria (UP), University of the Western Cape (UWC), Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) – for having us, for their hospitality, and certainly for giving us the opportunity to open up the fascinating world of SAP HANA Cloud Platform to their students. It was a great pleasure for us, thank you!

Below are some photos from our tour:

Wits

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Belgium Campus

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University of Pretoria

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University of the Western Cape

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Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University

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Lion Park

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