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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Dave Webb
Dave Webb
Dave Webb is a technology journalist with more than 15 years' experience. He has edited numerous technology publications including Network World Canada, ComputerWorld Canada, Computing Canada and eBusiness Journal. He now runs content development shop Dweeb Media.

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