Photo credit: SAP

SAP TechEd 2018 Las Vegas delivered five days of education, training, networking, and fun. The event kicked off with a day of preconference sessions, hosted by ASUG.

Attendees who participated in the preconference had their pick of 10 different half-day and full-day sessions. This mix of seminars and hands-on workshops focused on everything from design and data, to cloud platforms and SAP S/4HANA.

On the same day, SAP hosted the seventh Executive Technology Summit, which drew a couple of hundred attendees. The invitation-only summit had a series of speakers and a panel discussion focused on “Enabling the Intelligent Enterprise.” Topics included SAP HANA Data Management Suite, SAP Cloud Platform, SAP Leonardo, SAP Analytics Cloud, and how real customers are building intelligent enterprises. One of the key takeaways was that data science is an essential asset within an intelligent organization. As one customer put it, “Data is nothing without orchestration.”

Practical and Productive Knowledge

Orchestration was a theme throughout the conference, starting from its kick-off.

“TechEd has always been a wonderful blend between ASUG and SAP to bring the best of customer stories together,” said ASUG CEO Geoff Scott. “Because ultimately, at the end of the day, it’s how we all implement this technology, how we put it to productive use, and how we use it to make our organizations better that matters. That’s really what we’re here to do today and in the days that follow.”

Leading with Orchestrated Intelligence

On the first official day of the conference, Bernd Leukert, member of the Executive Board of Products and Innovation for SAP, delivered the keynote in front of 5,000+ attendees. He made two major announcements. The first was the general availability of the SAP Cloud Platform for ABAP environments with Kubernetes as a service, and the second was about the latest release of SAP Data Hub 2.3 and the beta version of the SAP Cloud Platform Functions service.

The keynote, though short in comparison to other years, successfully orchestrated demos of these services through real-world use. “The highlight for me was the keynote,” said Yash Vardhan. “That you can take unrelated data and create a sales lead is the key of intelligent enterprise.”

Data that Serves a Purpose

The developers in the crowd responded enthusiastically to the announcement about the latest release of SAP Data Hub 2.3, which is designed to build agile, data-driven pipeline applications that tap a single, logical data set representing an entire enterprise. Though SAP Data Hub was introduced a year ago, it now offers serverless compute technologies with container deployment options, extended management options for resource and application management, and increased options for on-premise as well as private and public cloud deployment and portability.

Leukert shared, “The number one problem customers tell me they face today is that their data is siloed across their various systems and landscapes.” He added, “Customers and engineers need to connect and keep control of their data to have low costs of operations of the new applications and business models they support.”

Connecting Your Most Valuable Data Assets

SAP has traditionally been strong in how it deals with transactional data. These days, however, customers are looking to manage and find value in other types of data, whether it’s to create a business model for predictive maintenance or to build a marketing campaign. There is so much data and so much that can be done.

The problem is that most companies don’t have full visibility into their data. There is so much, stored in so many different places, and organized in so many different layers. “If data is the new asset of a company and a company doesn’t know what assets it has, then that’s a problem,” said Franz Faerber, SAP. “With Data Hub 2.3, you can now connect to different storage layers where you have different data in one central system. You can learn everything you need to know about that data.”

The data never leaves its original home, but rather flows through a pipeline where it’s collected and then cleansed. Then you can use it to inform and power your business.

ABAP Is Not Dead

During his keynote, Leukert announced, “The SAP Cloud Platform now offers an ABAP environment for general availability.”

The majority of SAP customers have ABAP developers who have been used to working on on-premise systems alone. When these developers need to build applications on the cloud, the process is cumbersome. “With ABAP running on the SAP Cloud Platform now,” said Reddy Venumbaka, SAP, “developers can use their existing skill set and build and extend applications in ABAP with very little training.”

Other benefits in the SAP Cloud Platform include technologies such as machine learning, the Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence. This means that ABAPers can now build on their existing skill sets to bring new innovations to their organizations. “The buzz for me here this year,” said Kimberley Holland of Wireless Access Instructions, “is ABAP is not dead. You can feel the excitement among the ABAPers.” This was true for almost everyone we spoke with.

Leukert summed it up by saying, “You can modernize and stabilize your custom code, while enhancing the skills of your ABAP team to create really innovative cloud extensions.”

Extending Knowledge Through Talks

Attendees had the option to gain more insight through the SAP TechEd Talk sessions. Available on the show floor and at different times throughout the week, experts put on hour-long focused sessions that did not require advance registration. Sessions included strategy talks with executives, innovation talks with industry experts, and lightning talks that provided an overview of the features and functions of specific SAP products and technologies.

From Jam Sessions to Implementation

Attendees also flocked to the SAP Developer Garage on the show floor, where they could follow a learning journey or choose an “a la carte” experience.

SAP Developer Garage at SAP TechEd Las Vegas
Photo credit: SAP

The CodeJam mini sessions provided hands-on coding opportunities for those interested in getting started with SAP technology, platforms, and tools. From there, attendees could move along the Developer Garage section of the floor and try their hand in the app tutorial station, which was set up specifically for SAP technologies such as ABAP development, SAP Cloud Platform, SAP S/4HANA, SAP Cloud Platform Portal, SAP Cloud Platform Software Development Kit (SDK) for iOS and for Android, and SAP HANA express edition.

Of the nearly 2,000 attendees walking the show floor over three days, most were interested in taking the tutorial for ABAP development. “I’m not even sure I can use this in my current platform, but it’s really cool,” said Andreas Seltenhammer of Johns Manville.

Also available were tutorial stations showcasing partners such as Apple, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, and Google. Experts from each platform were on hand to answer questions and assist with one-on-one training.

“The different kinds of events and sessions were great. Beginning with the lectures where you heard about the technology and perhaps not quite understanding it, to going to the Developer Garage and doing it yourself. I loved the diversity of it all,” said Melanie Schlemper of QSC AG.

Connecting Through Shared Experiences

SAP and ASUG provided the platform for an experience and took customers through a journey that gave them the building blocks to create their own intelligent enterprise.

Exhibitors lined the show floor and offered demonstrations of their own, while the SAP Experience section provided a platform for attendees to ask questions and see first-hand how to use SAP tools and software.

All of this added to the key conference takeaway: Data is king. The developers and analysts who attended SAP TechEd 2018 know the core of all business decisions is knowing how to collect data, how to analyze it, and then how use it. They implement these technologies, put it to productive use, and then use it to make their organizations better.

In his keynote address, Leukert challenged everyone in the room to find their own organization’s path to becoming an intelligent enterprise. The consensus was that developers are ready to get started and are excited about using the latest tools to build something new.

Want to know more about what went on at the 2018 SAP TechEd Las Vegas? Read our coverage of Bernd Leukert’s keynote. Or if you're wondering what went on at 2018 SAP TechEd in Barcelona, you can get a taste of tapas, the clean core, and spacemen.