SAP TechEd Las Vegas Demo Jam Retrospective or the Demo Super GAU

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2006 | Adobe, SAP, Technology

Now that I am fully recovered from Las Vegas (yes it took two weeks) and already preparing for SAP TechEd in Amsterdam I wanted to capture my memories from the Demo Jam. As you probably know I participated this year in the SAP TechEd Demo Jam showing how to create an Adobe Flex application and connect it to an SAP backend.

My original idea was to present a Rich Internet Application for a customer support scenario which we already developed with our SI partner company Roundarch. It is pretty cool and shows the web service communication between the Flash front-end and the SAP backend as well as real-time data messaging between multiple clients. Great idea, but didn’t fly with the SAP Demo Gods. They wanted to see live development on stage. Great, so here I had two weeks left to develop a new demo which can be delivered in 6 minutes and includes live development against an SAP backend.

Luckily I have great colleagues who helped me out. Juergen Hauser, who is working in the Adobe SAP partnership team in Walldorf showed me how to create and configure Web Services in our test SAP ABAP server (which is located in Ottawa). Then I worked with Flex evangelist James Ward to create a compelling demo which is simple and short enough to be delivered in 6 minutes.

We finalized the whole project on the morning of Demo Jam day. So obviously when I did the dry run that afternoon with Jeff Word, nothing worked. I know I had it all under control, but Jeff was definitly nervous. I spent the rest of the afternoon practicing all steps and rehearsing the demo. Two hours before the start of the Demo Jam I hooked up my laptop on stage did a couple of more trial runs and everything worked… Yeah! Then the official part began and as presenters we were huddled into the VIP area with Shai and he exchanged some war stories about live demos. Next was a photo shoot of everyone and at that point in time I just wanted to get on stage and get it over with. Well unfortunately my demo was the second to last, so I spent time joking around with Ed and Dan who had the demo slot before me. After what seemed to be an eternity finally it was my time to enter the stage (while Ed and Dan showed of their excellent SAPlink demo). A quick check to see if the computer and network are still up and running… OK! Quick check of the application itself… OK and ready to go. So here was my turn in front of about 1000 attendees. After the introduction from Jeff the clock started (did I mention you have only 6 minutes?) I started the SAP GUI and entered the transaction code “WSADMIN” to call up the Web Service Admin UI. Nothing… Really, here I stand and nothing happens, UI does not come up (it worked just a couple of minutes earlier). Well, I thought now you need to improvise, so lets bring up Flex Builder. Just when I started to talk about Flex Builder (and in the back of my brain tried to figure out how I can build this application without access to the SAP Web Service) hell broke loose on my screen, various pop-up boxes informed me that I lost my VPN and network connection. I was paralyzed. That was the worst case scenario the demo super Super-GAU (a German abbreviation for the largest accident which can be assumed).

Jeff recognized my pain and was kind enough to ask the audience to give me a second chance and have the last demo presenter go first. That gave me exactly 6 minutes to fix my problem. I checked the network cable and general settings… Everything seemed fine, except I had no network connection. The SAP IT guy came to help and saved the day. He noticed that I had both wireless as well as the wired internet connection running. Apparently at the minute I started to demo the wireless connection timed-out for a couple of seconds and my computer got so confused that he refused to connect to the internet at all. After I manually turned of the wireless connection, everything worked again and just in time for my second chance. This time the demo went smooth and the audience went wild (especially after showing them the shark ;-). So believe it or not, but in the end I made second place and was classified as the best recovery every at a Demo Jam. Congratulations out to Ed and Dan who won with their excellent SAPlink tool!

For those of you who missed my performance you have three options:

1) Come to SAP TechEd in Amsterdam, where I will compete again

2) View the recording of the whole event on SDN TV

3) View my ScreenCam recording of the demo which includes some more background about the technology being used

Hope to see some of you in Amsterdam!

1 Comment to SAP TechEd Las Vegas Demo Jam Retrospective or the Demo Super GAU

Craig Cmehil
October 3, 2006

Matthias didn’t nail down the 1st place but he did an amazing job including the little snafu in the beginning with his VPN.

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