At SAP TechEd Madrid (November last year) I wrote about the Developer Renaissance, covering my interview with Aiaz Kazi from the Technology & Innovation Platform, and SAP’s re-focus on developers.
This week I had the great honour of being invited to, and speaking at SAP DKOM (Development Kick-Off Meeting) in Karlsruhe. It was a truly great event – thousands of SAP developers attending many tracks and sessions on everything from Analytics, through Database & Technology, to Cloud, and more besides. As I sit here in Frankfurt airport on my way home, I’ve been reflecting on perhaps the best single takeaway from this event. Yes the content of the talks was great (and I enjoyed giving my session on SAP NetWeaver Gateway too). Yes the venue and organisation was second to none. Yes it was great to see the SAP Mentor wolfpack and our illustrious leader Mark Finnern.
But most of all, I saw, felt, and experienced something that I last remember from over 20 years ago in my SAP career: The Developer Connection.
Back in the day, when I was (more) innocent, certainly a lot younger, and waist-deep in IBM mainframe tech, I moved around implementing and supporting R/2 installations in the UK and Europe. Esso Petroleum in London, Deutsche Telekom in Euskirchen, and so on. In those days you could catch up with all the OSS notes on your favourite topics over a couple of coffees. Most importantly however, you had connections to the developers at SAP who were building and shipping the code that you were implementing. We knew each other’s names, and in many cases, shared phone numbers or email addresses too. There was a strong bond between customers and developers – and we worked together to make the software better.
That connection lost its way over the next few years, when SAP (consciously or unconsiously) built barriers between us. It became almost impossible in some cases to even find out the name of the developer or team responsible, let alone contact them directly.
Well – that connection is back. And better than ever before. Both at SAP TechEd Madrid, and this week at DKOM, developers were coming and saying hello. Developers who are building the great stuff we’re exploring and using, like SAPUI5 and NetWeaver Gateway. People like you and me. We are connecting again. I think there are a number of reasons for this.
First, there’s the amazing community called the SAP Community Network (SCN – although for me it will always be the SAP Developer Network – SDN) that brings together developers from all sources. Then there’s SAP’s re-focus on developers, and the corresponding coupling of empowerment and responsibility that SAP is giving directly to those developers. Further, there’s the inexorable turning inside out manoeuvre that SAP began a few years ago now, moving cautiously at first but now gathering pace as more and more technology directions that SAP are following are from outside the SAP universe, not inside. SAP developers naturally are connecting with the wider development community in general.
Whatever the reason, it’s a great sign that the future looks exciting for SAP development as a whole. Connections, collaboration and cooperation is returning. The Developer Connection is here again.