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What happens in Vegas - stays in Vegas!

...or so the saying goes, right? Well, I guess that only applies for stories that are not 'kosher' or NOT suitable to share with a public audience (aka NSFW.) And while Las Vegas certainly provides a lot of opportunities for such stories, there are indeed plenty of good reasons to talk about what is happening in Vegas. Especially if there's SAP TechEd in town, so here we go...

Just as I did with my Impressions from TechEd 2010 Berlin, I'll try my best to summarize the event by cross-referencing other people's great blogs. Those who know me, also know that one of my favorite topics and area of expertise is composition. Hence, I thought why try to write it all down myself and still go second-best to what other people already wrote about the event? Not the way to go... instead, I'll go ahead and wrap it all up via composition or, if that term doesn't strike a nerve, let's call it enterprise mash-up! 😉

Innovation Weekend

Just as in Berlin, SAP TechEd started early for those who signed up for Innovation Weekend. I came in late to the event this time around due to travelling options and consequently I opted for a supporting role only this time. I tried my very best to provide the team working on Business Case 6 in Vegas with some of my OAuth 'expertise' (= lack of.) Still it took way too long to overcome these issues, which given the short period of time the teams have (~ 30h) is a show-stopper. Having experienced twice what kind of struggle it is to integrate an application into StreamWork using OAuth it just backs me up in my thoughts about creating a better example... this will be one of the things I'll look into once I got back from my business trip (and having caught up on the pile of work during my absence, of course!)

There has been two additions to seven business cases we had in Berlin: Improving the SCN from within! and Kindergarten Busy Bee Tracker. Personally, the first one is really striking a nerve for me as there's been lots of active discussion about SCN and its reputation system. In fact, Sarah Otner, a student from London, approached several of the SAP Mentors (including myself) in Berlin, asking for help in getting access to some of the underlying data, which she would require to write her thesis on the topic of reputation systems. Consequently I was quite happy to see it being picked up... Read the full story in John Appleby's blog referenced below and find out how the team crashed SCN instead of fixing it from within... 🙂

Worth mentioning is that the event was very well received by both participants and executive sponsors alike. kaj.vandeloo/blog called it his new favorite event and at the end even SAP CTO vishal.sikka/blog showed up in person to praise the concept and execution (and sharing some stories about his early days of being a developer himself.)

The keynote

So, for those who attended the keynote in Berlin there was little new content-wise (but then how much can happen within a week that would be worth mentioning in the keynote anyway.) Vishal shared the stage with a variety of executives like Björn Görke, Singh Mecker and our new CIO Oliver Bussmann. I really like the idea of giving more people the chance to get on stage at prime time and by doing so providing the responsible persons the opportunity to talk about their topics themselves - way to go!

As I happened to be on site early on (guess that's the good thing about staying in the hotel, where the event takes place) I got to sit in the second row together with laure.cetin/blog and martin.lang/blog - directly behind Vishal, chip.rodgers/blog and mark.yolton/blog... and as Vishal was on stage most of the time, I had direct line of sight to the stage and a great opportunity to take pictures 🙂


DemoJam is another must-not-miss part of SAP TechEd. And while the bad acoustics and the people chit-chatting at the back of the room were causing some minor trouble it was an excellent show again. There were several teams that would have deserved to win this one, but in the end I think matt.harding3/blog and Al Templeton rightfully walked away with the trophy - especially since they have put the source code of their "Featured Code Exchange project: Super-Generic Mobile App" on Code Exchange for everyone to play around with. How cool is that?

Social media

I already talked a bit about social media in my Berlin recap, so I won't repeat myself on that. What I missed out to mention were the nice screensavers they had on all the laptops standing around which showed a nice visualization of the #sapteched Twitter stream. It just nicely added to the feeling of excitement and being involved in something great. Not to forget that it also provided means to get people into interesting sessions at the last minute.

Any wrap-up about SAP TechEd and social media would not be complete without mentioning the legendary saga of how natascha.thomson/blog happened to make a last-minute appearance to Las Vegas. For those who do not know her yet (you missed out!) - she used to be with the Ecosystem and Community Marketing team and as such used to be a regular on the event. Due to the fact that she recently joined the Social Media Audience Marketing team she was not scheduled to be there this time. So, in a roundtable meeting with mark.yolton/blog and the SAP Mentors it was brought up as a letdown that Natascha is being missed at the event. Again, it was veteran SAP Mentor john.appleby3/blog who took it to the next level by making some noise and proposing to vote her up on Idea place. If you are among those who doubt the power of social media, maybe this story will make you a believer... here's the full story (including videos and referenced blogs):

The Sessions

Those who read Impressions from TechEd 2010 Berlin know that I barely had any time to actually educate myself by attending a lot of sessions or even hands-on myself. Actually it was even worse in Vegas as all my own sessions have been scheduled twice. As such, I spent all day from Wednesday to Friday noon giving lectures and hands-on sessions, but I wouldn't want it any other way either. While my very own topics (BPM, Composite Applications and Java) may not be among the most popular topics anymore, I'm still very happy with both the number of attendees and the feedback we received - especially when taken into the account that the sessions are targeting an advanced audience.

PMC360 is all about loose-coupling in BPM by leveraging intermediate events introduced with SAP NetWeaver Composition Environment 7.2. volker.stiehl/blog was running the show in Berlin and I got to be the host in Vegas teaming up with peter.mcnulty/blog and After a 1h presentation the attendees started with the exercises and we swarmed out to give assistance and answering questions. We collected the questions and then discussed them in public between the three exercises. I truly believe that doing it that way added value to the session as all the questions were good and valid ones. In fact, we actually plan on documenting them in the following days - this way, also the people who will be going through the session on Virtual SAP TechEd can benefit from them. Stay tuned...

The 2h lecture I compiled together resolving around Advanced Composite Patterns (CD301) is really targeting the techies interested in the workings underneath the shiny Model-Driven development tools. While I am not among those that draw the masses, it's fine with me - I'm happy to talk to to a smaller, but very interested group of people. Especially if it turns into a two-way communication as it did in Vegas. I was asked tons of good questions from the attendees during and after the session. I just love these discussions and debates about best practices, so keep' em coming! For those who missed the session and are interested - I have good news: fellow SAP Mentor persuaded me (not that it took a lot) to do our own little recording and so we video-taped it this week in Palo Alto. If you're curious - watch his blog...

The Evening Event/Concert

I didn't actually cover the evening event in my blog post about Berlin, which doesn't imply though that I didn't enjoy it. The opposite. See, I've been among those that never really heard about Lifehouse ever before or better put - I couldn't associate any song to the name. So, in Berlin I was more driven by the idea to hang out with some good friends and have a free(!) beer or two. But hey, the good thing about low expectations is that things can only turn out to be a positive surprise. And that's what it has been... once Lifehouse started playing I actually did recall having heard a few of their songs on the radio and at the end I actually sang along the lines of "Halfway gone" 🙂

Compared to Berlin I have to say that the audience was much more energetic and enthusiastic and consequently the atmosphere was much better. There's been lots of discussion about the band and quite some debate over alternatives. However, from my perspective, given such a diverse crowd, rock seems to be the best possible common denominator. Paired up with an open bar - what else can one ask for?

Maybe one thing... don't close the event down that strictly! The evening event is a great networking opportunity and especially in Berlin we missed out on this unique chance of giving customers, partners and employees the opportunity to hang out together and connect. Maybe we should consider spending less money on the band, but just extend the duration of the event?!? #foodforthoughts

SCN Video Choice Awards

Same as the SCNotties in Berlin, there was a must-attend networking session in Vegas, which was the one celebrating the SCN Video Choice Award winners. sylvia.santelli/blog has done a fabulous job of running the event and the final ceremony was simply a blast! She just looked gorgeous in her dress and as she paired up with mark.finnern/blog to hand-over these sought-after awards it's been a frickin' great time. The cheers, laughter and loud music surely gathered a crowd and it's been one of the rare moments you actually spotted a SAP Mentor gathering during the event. I'm so looking forward to next year 😉

Eveything else

There's soo much so say and still one cannot even get close to describing the experience for those who missed it. So, here are just some random thoughts...

I was really impressed by the logistics required to cope with such a huge number of people (~ 5000 I believe.) The TechEd staff pulled off an excellent job again! The catering service was spot-on and the food was very descent in general. Personally, I did not have the chance to really enjoy a warm meal everyday due to my busy schedule, but the few times I managed to have lunch it was quite good. My favorite food moment however will remain the excellent hors d'oeuvres served at the TAO bar during the Global Communication reception - yummie!

The WIFI however was not as perfect as it was in Berlin. During the keynote many bloggers and tweeters experienced network issues. It got better along the course of the event, yet there's still room for improvements - especially in regards to speed. Now, maybe I would not have felt that way if I wouldn't have experienced how flawlessly it can actually be (as demonstrated in Berlin!)

The Venetian/ Palazzo hotel... what else can I say other than that I've never stayed at any other hotel that even gets close. The suites were really luxurious and made you feel like a VIP. Located in the middle of the Strip in the center of town - the city was yours to explore. Besides the artificialness of Vegas and all the craziness you see on the streets it's still worth seeing and experiencing me thinks - you have to see in order to believe 😉

And then there's been the Piano Bar, which became THE place to hang-out at the end of the day. I spend most of my evenings there and always had a great time and plenty of good laughs! For the sake of preserving at least some sort privacy (whatever is left anyway) I'll not call out any names, but instead just give a general shout-out to the Piano Bar regulars, you know who you are - thanks for the good times!

To make a long story short, that's really what it all boils down to in regards to TechEd: it's all about the people you meet and the connections & friends you make. Nuff said...

Further Reading

If you're like and me and simply cannot get enough of SAP TechEd or even suffering from Suffering from PSTW syndrome? Snap out of it! then you may also want to check out the following list of blog posts:

Recommended Podcasts

As usual, the Enterprise Geeks did a fabulous job of capturing the event in podcasts. Hard to believe, but besides doing their daily wrap-ups they raised the bar even higher by doing interviews with some top executives like Vishal Sikka and Oliver Bussmann. Here are the direct links for your convinience: