My First InnoJam

I’m honored and privileged to be writing from the Global Communications area on the show floor at SAP TechEd Las Vegas. This has been a new kind of conference for me, one as a guy that has never been to SAP TechEd before, and another as an SAP Mentor. Let me get right down to it…

The week began with my first ever InnoJam. InnoJam kicks off a few days before SAP TechEd actually starts. People from around the world converge with ideas on a theme, and then other participants slice off to join those people to develop those ideas into products within about a 30 hour time frame.

Somehow I gravitated towards a group of fellow SAP Mentors and most of us were actually classic SAP BusinessObjects types. Could we actually pull this off by building a front end with SAP BusinessObjects Dashboard Design, coupled with SAP BusinessObjects BI4, SAP ECC, and SAP HANA? I think it has legs. Let’s dissect that a bit.

Puppies Unicorns Kittens and Rainbows
Yes, we were the team that won hands down with the most creative team name. We even have a facebook fan page. LIKE US! But of course, showmanship only gets you so far. We began our project functionally by leveraging SAP HANA as our data source, and SAP BusinessObjects 4.0 for the presentation layer. HANA, with a little coaxing made the load of a flat file with our demo data pretty easy. Well, from my perspective it was really easy. Vitaly and Vijay did all the work. As we turned our attention to the BI4 work, Greg, Jamie, Derek, and I got all excited.

Vitaly gave me a quick hand in getting my laptop VM with BI4 ready to go with HANA. I did not have the HANA developer studio installed, so a simple drop of the HANA JDBC driver onto my machine and a restart of the Information Design Tool and bam, I had a connection to HANA. A short while later, Vitaly and Vijay had ACCESSIBLE data for me in HANA and the Data Foundation in my universe started to take shape. Even better, I could profile the table to see that it did in fact, return faster than I could blink. That’s HANA. OK it was only 335 rows of data but it was a REALLY fast blink. Lastly, with the Business Layer in place we were ready to grab the data from HANA.

Explorer worked just as you might expect, giving some easy ways to drill across the various dimensions, turning those metrics into valuable views. On top of that, it was the short road to mobility.

The Dashboard
Jamie brings some great dashboard design skills to the table. We didn’t really have the end to end picture done yet, but with the platform in place, we were able to get our data right out of HANA and into the dashboard. It was a mighty dashboard that simply needed the hook to write the data selected back to HANA. But how?

Unfortunately, there isn’t an API in place to actually allow us to do this from Dashboard Design. The solution? A web service on top of SAP ECC to allow us to call the service and push the data into a temporary store. The great thing there is the architecture is in place to in near-real time, copy the data into HANA.

BAM!

Except we found an issue that was in a known ADAPT (need to find that again) and couldn’t call the SAP ECC service from Dashboard Design. Then we ran out of time. BUT with the fix that is already acknowledged there in that ADAPT, it should have worked. We took data from source, to presentation layer, and then had the ability to close the loop and write the data back.

Oh, and we could not have done it without Gretchen and Karin on board too. They made us look less nerdy this time.

All in all this was a great experience. This was totally my “A Team” and I hope we do it again next year even if we wanted to kill each other by the end of day two.

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