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Personal Insights

Carolinas ASUG Fall Meeting

I live in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA, so I am in the Carolina’s ASUG region. The Carolina ASUG group is quite hefty:

  • 3116 members
  • 540 companies represented
  • Average meeting attendance of 75 to 100 people

The group has several smaller meetings as well as a couple major meetings held during the year. This year’s major fall meeting was held a couple days ago in Spartanburg South Carolina, hosted by the Milliken.

This is a huge global manufacturing company. They do just about everything. The keynote speaker was the IT director, and he noted that you will touch a Millikan product on average 50 times per day. Judging from the product showcase at their headquarters, I believe it.

I had a couple reasons for attending. I wanted to know if anyone else was doing custom development on the SAP database platforms, In particular, I wanted to know if anyone was doing SAP Cloud Foundry Mobile custom development. I also wanted to know how the job market was looking. And lastly, I was interested in making some contacts, trying out the panorama setting on my camara, and taking a look at Millikan headquarters which is in the middle of their own Arboretum:

Mission accomplished.

As with past meetings, there are very, very few who do custom development. Almost every company sticks to the SAP-supplied ERP modules like FICO, Material Ledger, MM, and so on. Only one other company had any custom development. It was basically a reporting app to extract ERP data from S/4HANA. That’s it. No HANA XS and no Mobile development.

This was disappointing. I was the only one at the meeting doing custom development. We basically take the SAP core database products – HANA, ASE, IQ, iAnywhere, Ultralite – and build a full stack on top of them. All our applications are custom and proprietary. To be perfectly honest, I suppose I wasn’t expecting many companies expand beyond the SAP ERP packaged software. But I was secretly hoping to find a different answer.

The job market matched my expectations exactly. Universally, when someone is looking for staff augmentation related to HANA, there is nothing to be found. Nothing. Nada. Zip. When I asked further, it appears that many, many job candidates are padding their resumes heavily with fake HANA experience, only to be exposed with a few questions. It seems to be a widespread problem. I am not surprised at all.

The contracting situation is equally skimpy. Everyone agreed that off-shore help not the best path. There was agreement that offshore contractors are not useful because, in addition to resume padding, it often comes down to spending a frustrating amount of time explaining things and getting very little in return. Everyone I talked to has opted to make HANA an in-house career path for their existing employees and new hires.

I was happy to make some new contacts. Where I work, I am isolated SAP-wise because my teammates are custom developers in JAVA, with very little SME knowledge of SAP databases. They rely on me for that. So, is was very nice to spend the day with people having a common interest.

The presentations were good, except for one which was very puzzling. One consulting/contracting company spent almost an hour presenting a mobile app which accessed some unspecified database. I could not tell if it was Oracle or HANA or something else. It didn’t matter because I lost interest when I spoke up and asked if they used the SAP Cloud Foundry Mobile Services as their development platform. The answer was “No, we wrote it ourself. We compete with SAP.” What? I though these presentations were supposed to be about SAP and the use of SAP products. Too bad they did not use SAP Mobile. I would have been highly interested.

The presentation by CISCO was very interesting, especially when Rajiv Thomas, the SAP Portfolio lead at CISCO brought up the HEAVILY DISCOUNTED 1-time offer for an appliance server to host a HANA instance, intended for POC purposes. How discounted, you ask? Not sure. He says contact him to follow up.

Depending on how things go on my own horizon, I am thinking about proposing a presentation at the next meeting in the Spring related to building custom apps on top of SAP Core databases.

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