Now I have been to many Microsoft Techeds and Gartner symposia , and that is always a fun experience. I did not expect that much fun of solid, serious, boring SAP AG, but I am pleasantly surprised. Of course they do copy the Microsoft Teched experience, including the party at the last night (Microsoft did stop with that btw) and a keynote thats should bring about enthusiasm and cheering devoted followers Well, of course it is SAP, a German company with serious software and many customers all over the world running serious business. So no, it was not as exciting as USA companies can make these openings.
The experience was made pleasant though. Good logistics, excellent wireless access, excellent food and drinks, buffet style lunches instead of the failing mass restaurant solutions (Gartner really made a mess of the logistics at their over-expensive symposium last year!) and excellent weather the first days (sun, walk outside in a shirt, Indian summer type of weather).
SAP AG used to be a closed company, only thinking about their own products in the typical SAP way. But SOA really changed that company, their Netweaver initiative and products are all about open standards, integration of not only their own products like ERP, CRM etc, but third-parties are recognized and accessible. With the SAP tools it is now possible to build SOA solutions, in the SAP way of course, in a reliable and secure way. They do embrace open standards and open source, like Java, Eclipse, SOAP (XML based) and all the usual security standards.
I was particularly interested in the system landscapes required to run all this SOA. Virtualization, security, high availability, TCO, life cycle management of all this. SAP still struggles here, for example with virtualization. License problems, administration problems, support problems (when you have an issue on a virtual server they will ask you to show the problem on a physical server, that made me fall of my chair laughing!). SAP also struggles with the fast, and not always for the better, advancements in the open world. They were forced to develop their own Java Virtual machine, enhanced and guaranteed for many years to stay stable and reliable.
Nice to be in Munich again, been a while since my DEC days.