Hasso on my mind

ORLANDO — John Mellencamp was good, but didn’t look like he was enjoying himself much. Ray Charles sang Georgia On My Mind, so I can’t complain.

But consider the entertainment at SAP’s annual user group sock-hop as a barometer of the state of the industry — JM

and Ray are a little past their sell-by dates when you consider that a couple of years ago, it was way-hip Lenny Kravitz and Sheryl Crow highlighting the evening. Better times = hipper entertainment. As a colleague remarked, when we go to a user conference and the evening’s entertainment features Goddo and Trooper, it’s time to get out of the business.

Never mind. SAPphire drew about 8,500 this year, a couple hundred more than last year. And the mood on the show floor was upbeat. An EDS staffer noted that it was a vast improvement over his last show, a dreary post-9/11 Comdex. Good traffic, good leads, good spirits. The single bomb-sniffing dog was visible, but not disruptive.

More random musings on SAPphire 2002:

  • SAP CEO Hasso Plattner’s call for Bill Gates to reconsider what’s allowed to work around a Windows platform is about as surprising as it will be useful — which is to say, not at all. Plattner says we won’t see a new SAP product without a portal interface, and the company’s firmly in the Web services camp. The rift between the Java- and .Net-based Web services platform is growing, which does not bode well for the architecture. SAP’s Web Dynpro generates code for ABAP, J2EE and .Net run-time environments on SAP’s Web application server. Plattner says that’s not the route he wanted to take — which suggests that he’s not counting on Bill to “tear down the wall” as Plattner insisted on Wednesday. Bad news for the small developers, for whom a pervasive Web services architecture would be a boon, but it leaves SAP well-positioned.
  • Speaking of Web Dynpro … wasn’t it only a year ago we were being urged to Enjoy SAP? The Enjoy SAP initiative, aimed at creating an interface that was more user-friendly (read, “familiar-looking to Microsoft users”) is being ditched in favour of Dynpro. Only the extremely catty would suggest it’s for any reason other than the qualities outlined above.
  • Quality of knick-knacks on the show floor is also a common journalistic barometer of the state of the industry. Some angelic presence handed me a pocket fan, thus preserving me from the heat stroke that was beginning to seem inevitable (it is three degrees hotter than the surface of the sun here). However, a competing boother claimed her company’s offering was “clearly superior.” The high-capacity water gun will have to go in the checked luggage, I fear. On the contest front, WebMethods had a Regis lookalike hosting a Who Wants to be a Millionaire-style show with an MP3 player on the line. Unisys was giving away a Microsoft Xbox. Immediately across the aisle, Microsoft wasn’t — staffers were taking entries for a Harley draw.
  • Had an interesting chat with a business development type who shall remain nameless. He did some time vainly working on a B2B exchange for the fruit industry with SAP. He cynically appraised online commerce in general, noting that customers aren’t reaping the benefits of a more efficient supply chain. “The efficiencies it creates are singularly to the benefit of the seller,” he said. “It offends my sense of fair play — I’m a mid-Westerner.”

Finally, I was cornered by a representative of offshore development company Intelligroup. “We were doing offshore before it was cool,” Milind Tavshikar told me, adding that nobody seems to be “doing offshore” in Canada. I can’t remember when offshore became cool. What I’ll put myself through for a pen that lights up …


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