Vadim Klimov is the SCN Member of the Month for June 2016. He is a Solution Architect focused on SAP Process Orchestration solution design and implementation, who finds time to make high-quality contributions on SCN, both through informative blog posts and by diligently answering questions. His blog posts are thorough and well-documented, and his approach in discussion forums is patient and encouraging.
During our talk, he shared his perspective on trends in technology, the benefits knowledge sharing, and offers guidance to new members. (I was also delighted to find out that he too, is an identical twin!). Highlights here, but his thoughtful answers are well-worth the full read below:
- Don’t be afraid of blogging… Positive feedback is encouraging, whereas constructive negative feedback is helpful to improve the blog and knowledge of the covered area.
- Integration between on premise systems and cloud solutions is definitely one of the demanded topics that I now face very often. While cloud offers a lot of promise, it is not a silver bullet.
- On SCN I got to know people who are smart and have interesting personalities, and some of them are open to share a lot of non-technical points of view (thanks to Coffee Corner space in SCN, too!)
- A good trance set or rock album playing in background makes ABAP debugging or Java development more comfortable.
Tell us a bit about yourself, where you live, what kind of work you do, and other things you would like to share with the community (hobbies, fun facts)?
I spent greater part of my life in my home city Saint-Petersburg, Russia, which is a very nice and beautiful city. At this time of the year, in June, it is also known for “white nights” season – time of the midnight sun that lasts for the entire month. Together with bascule bridges and Baroque architecture of the city center, the city makes charming impression.
Relatively recently, a year ago, I relocated to Cambridge, UK, and now work for a semiconductor company which is specializing in processors design and building software development tools for them. Here, I work in the IT architecture team and am primarily responsible for governance of the implemented SAP PO landscape, design, implementation and technical quality assurance of SAP PO based solutions. An integral part of my job is technical feasibility assessment and prototyping in integration area for potential future projects, and close collaboration with enterprise architects and technical architects when working together on IT infrastructure roadmaps and corresponding products portfolio. The diverse IT landscape provides opportunity to explore new integration technologies and experiment with tools and frameworks for them. Integration between on premise systems and cloud solutions is definitely one of the demanded topics in this area that I now face very often.
When it comes to the SAP area, I entered it very accidentally. I studied finance and investments analysis in the university, during both graduate and post-graduate courses. When studying, I was interested in applied IT and attended an internship programme joining the business applications support team of one of the large SAP customers. As a result, I found myself more interested and focused on the technical aspects of supported systems, and finally converted my skills to systems integration. A few integration centric projects in consulting followed by intensive practice in integration field in SAP support completely settled me in this area.
In my spare time, I like travelling and visiting new cities. What I like most in such trips, is to walk over the city and explore it, not only popular touristic points of attraction. This gives many-sided view about city life and urban residents.
Colleagues may also often see me with earphones in my ears, listening to music, when I’m focused – this helps me to concentrate my attention on the specific subject, especially when busy with development. In general, I’m very fond of vocal trance and also several hard rock bands (surprising mix of musical preferences, isn’t it). And good trance set or rock album playing in background makes ABAP debugging or Java development more comfortable.
When did you become a member of SCN and which areas are you most active in?
Looking into the profile, I joined SCN as far back as 2008, but at the beginning I was not actively participating – in contrast, I was a “silent member” who was reading a lot and absorbing the enormous amount of helpful materials available here. It took a while for me before I started publishing blogs and stepping into forum discussions. Precisely speaking, it is about a year and a half or two years since I became more involved in SCN life.
My primary specialization in SAP is SAP PI/PO – as a result, I’m mostly active in SCN spaces that are directly related to this area: Process Integration & SOA Middleware, Process Orchestration… From time to time I also contribute to contiguous spaces like Java Development and ABAP Connectivity.
I’ve been impressed with your steady, high-quality, thorough blog posts this year. Can you tell us what your blogging process is like, especially how you select good topics? I think figuring out what to write about can be challenging for new bloggers who are trying to get started.
In the majority of cases, selection of the topic for a future blog is very spontaneous, it is not something I plan in advance, and definitely I have never planned blog series – to me, every blog is like a small full-fledged story. This also finds reflection in the blog structure that I commonly use – a main part is preceded by an intro section and succeeded with outro.
Generally, topic selection is either an outcome of developed prototypes where some interesting combination of technologies was used, or a result of curiosity and “what if” approach. Not all of those prototypes were then embedded into projects and were moved to production environments due to various technical and non-technical reasons, but if the prototype was technologically challenging, it is already enough for me to consider writing a blog about it later on. Moreover, many “what if” ideas fail at different stages of their consideration and implementation – some ideas appear to be promising at the beginning, but then during deeper dive and realization I come to a conclusion they are not so applicable, or will introduce considerable technical debt, or will significantly and negatively impact maintenance of a solution by overcomplicating it. That is a good time to make full stop and think of another topic.
Writing blogs also helps me to make a summary of the explored technical topic more structured. During working on prototypes, I commonly end up with incidental code snippets, configurations, miscellaneous notes – when writing a blog, all these bits and pieces have to be filtered, sorted and organized.
It is also essential to provide illustrations and demos in a blog unless one is writing about a very theoretical and academic topic. If the subject has practical application, then it is worth investing time in development of a working example that will demonstrate key aspects of the described scenario or technology.
And finally, don’t be afraid of blogging. It surely makes sense to firstly make a thorough analysis of already available materials on the topic of interest in order to avoid repetitions and blogs about something that is already well covered. But eventually, it is SCN community that will evaluate a posted blog and leave feedback. Positive feedback is encouraging, whereas constructive negative feedback is helpful to improve the blog and knowledge of the covered area. It may also happen that a topic that is very exciting for a blog author, is not welcomed by community and is ignored – this helps me to gain better understanding which topics and technologies are popular among other SCN members.
Do you feel like your experiences on the SCN community have helped advance your career and/or professional network? If so, how?
Yes, definitely. When collaborating with other consultants within SCN, I got acquainted with knowledgeable people, expanded my professional network and learned a lot from them. We shared different visions on discussed problems, which surely helped to approach the problem from multiple perspectives. And this all is not only about professional network and discussions – I got to know people who are smart and interesting personalities, and some of them are open to share a lot of non-technical points of view (thanks to Coffee Corner space in SCN, too!).
As a technologist who has worked both as an SAP Employee and SAP Customer, you have an interesting perspective. What’s the most important thing SAP needs to do to keep customers enthusiastic about its products in the future, and what do you think SAP’s biggest challenges are?
You are right, this is an interesting experience to work with the SAP product both from a software vendor and customer perspective – in spite of being technology focused in both teams, in SAP and now on customer side, to some extent, focus points have differences. Both roles and experiences are very valuable for me and complement each other: skills and product knowledge, knowledge of SAP methodologies which I gained in the past, definitely facilitate my current work. Furthermore, we are in close contact with my ex-team mates – not only professionally, but also having good friendship. And it is just amusing to get replies from ex-colleagues in response to raised SAP incidents!
In my opinion, a major challenge is adoption of various open source and commercial technologies, and assurance of interoperability with SAP products in such a way that on one hand, promising technologies are incorporated or their support is delivered quickly enough and the product responds to market demand and trends in timely manner, and on the other hand, the product strategy and roadmap remains clear and continuous, otherwise it may lead to architectural inconsistency and future product instability. Systems integration area is a very good example for this: new standards and frameworks / libraries are regularly developed and brought to market, some of them become very limited to specific use cases, but others evolve into de-facto standards and tools. Exposure of systems, their components and provided associated services via various types of cloud offerings shall accelerate this process, but it also tends to bring more unified lightweight standards and approaches, vendor agnostic technologies in integration field – consequently, making their supportability a crucial factor and possibly leading to reduction of share of proprietary technologies.
Another challenge that I recognize when assessing solutions, especially those involving combination of on premise and cloud based solutions, is clarity on effective SLAs and OLAs for all involved parties, a good understanding of actual support scope and segregation of responsibilities between organizations. For me personally, increasing popularity of cloud offerings is quite commonly seen by an organization as a silver bullet aiming at the reduction of installed and operated on premise base and associated TCO, shifting of all bunch of problems related to hardware and software setup (and related scalability, failover and disaster recovery topics) as well as routine maintenance activities “to the cloud”. Such infrastructural change and reliance on clouds definitely sets high expectations against cloud providers, SAP being one of them.
It looks like from the photos you forwarded, that you have a twin brother? I am also a twin, so I am delighted to ask, what has your twin experience has been like? Is he also in technology? And quiz, can you name another recent member of the month who is also a twin?
Exactly! I have a twin brother, Vladislav Klimov (Vlad, for short). He is the elder twin (8 minutes elder than me – but for twins, every single minute matters). And he is truly an amazing person! We used to spend the vast majority of our time together: studied at the same school, entered the same university and graduated from the same faculty, and even started our career in the same company and in the same department! And this is by far not about studying and working together – we greatly support one another and are very close in our lives. It has been said that some identical twins have special sort of relationship and intuitive sense between them – and this is all true about me and Vlad. Literally speaking, we understand each other without words – and this is very important, especially now when we live in different countries. Regardless of where each one of us is, we find the way to stay in touch. He is very honest, smart and open minded, very optimistic – he is the one who encourages me a lot, and whom I respect and rely on.
By the way, can you imagine how much confusion we used to cause, especially when being dressed identically?! And this still happens sometimes when Vlad’s or my colleagues meet “the other twin” for example in airports making connecting flights. They say it is funny feeling when you meet the person face to face being completely sure that the person shall now be in the other city or country in a business trip. Nowadays they got used and are paying extra attention to which twin they are talking to – but still leaving us room for playing tricks and having fun about that.
And guess what, he works in SAP area, too! Unlike me being technology focused, he is professionally interested in SAP applications field – particularly, area of his core expertise is SAP MM and SD, complemented with more recent products SAP PLM and SAP SRM. So, whenever I have any MM/SD related question, it is commonly a matter of a single phone call to him which brings a hint or resolution to the raised question and guidance on next steps.
I heard Paul Bakker has a twin brother – and it was curious to read about this fact in your interview with him. And now I also know you are a twin, so you might have good understanding of what I have spoken earlier, based on your own experience. Frankly speaking, I have never met twins in SAP yet – good to meet (even though virtually) you and get to know we have strong and growing twins community in an SAP world!
Have you been following the plans around the upcoming changes to the community (#1DXCOMMDEST – http://scn.sap.com/docs/DOC-63650)? What are your hopes and dreams associated with the upcoming redesign? Have you participated in the open beta (http://scn.sap.com/community/about/blog/2016/05/17/open-beta-starts-now)? What do you think so far?
Yes, I’m very keen on experiencing thenew 1DX community. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet got enough time to actively participate in open beta testing, even though I try to follow feedback of members who are testing new features.
In my opinion, the transition from spaces to tags will be very challenging change, it will take time to get used to the new approach. Actually, I’m optimistic about this idea – sometimes when writing a blog, it was hard to made decision regarding which space the blog has to be published in, because a topic was cross space relevant.
Is there an SCN member you admire (OK… you can name a few)? And for what reason?
There are many SCN members who are very smart and professional, and whom I was lucky to meet and work with – so naming them here would have turned into quite a long list. I would like to specifically mention some of them. Not all of these people are very active on SCN, but they are experts whose knowledge and attitude makes me admire them.
- Mike Sibler The person whose knowledge of XI/PI/PO is admiring and extraordinary, he is the professional who knows every tiny screw of the SAP PO product. And even though being extremely busy with tens of concurrent tasks, he manages to find time to provide consultancy and help to his team mates.
- Eng Swee Yeoh SAP PI/PO expert and practitioner, the person whose every blog is full of hands on tips and hints, the one who shares a lot of development and customizing samples with the community, and every time finds interesting topic.
- Bianca Lima. An outstanding ABAP developer and the person who knows RFC inside out – and this all is on top of her comprehensive and proficient knowledge of PI/PO. She is the person who works really hard and who is very supportive to her colleagues and friends.
- Vyacheslav Kuzyakin The person who admires me with the approach and attitude he demonstrates in exploring SAP PI/PO – so in-depth and so focused on details, thanks to his diligent personality and acquisitive mind. For him, there are no insignificant things in the subject area, and he comes to the root of a problem when assessing it and looking for optimal solutions.
- Alexander Savkin. An excellent ABAP developer and guru of ABAP optimization. The person who can optimize already well written and well performing ABAP code and bring it to an incredible degree of robustness.
- Jelena Perfiljeva. Master of ABAP, who shares her profound knowledge in this area. Specials thanks to her for active contribution to other side areas on SCN, which I follow and read through with great pleasure.
- Vladislav Klimov. My brother, very knowledgeable in SAP ERP Logistics area and having broad-based knowledge in neighboring fields. We already discussed him earlier, so I hope you got fairly good impression of him.
Do you have any fun talents you’d like to share with the community? Jokes, songs, a poem?
As you may have noticed from my blogs, I’m “talented” in writing lengthy texts – blogs, replies in forum threads, mails, etc. As a sidenote, I make my best to restrain this talent whenever possible.
Probably I have some other talent, but apparently it is hidden so deep inside that I haven’t yet discovered it. Will proceed searching for it and discovering.
Are you on Twitter?
No, not yet. Considering the “talent” I mentioned above, I would not survive in Twitter for long, having so strict characters limitation per post.
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Every month, a member of the SAP Community Network is recognized for exemplary behavior: sharing knowledge with peers, being helpful and taking on additional tasks to support community engagement. See the list of previous members recognized on the SCN Member of The Month Hall of Fame.