I have been working with SAP solutions since 1997 when I worked for the Walt Disney Company. For 15 years I moved through a variety of roles and responsibilities always with a keen eye on SAP systems operations, Data Center Operations, Global Outsourcing management, Enterprise architecture, and Data Management modernization. Eventually I was hired by EMC, tuning and growing their global SAP solution selling portfolio, where I set the direction for EMC’s SAP stratey in the market regarding SAP HANA TDI, SAP on any-DB Operational Maturity, and SAP Hybrid Cloud solutions. In this role I was very customer and field focused and have been enjoying countless customer and partner engagements. In 2016, I started working for SAP directly, first in the SAP Vora GTM team, and now I am responsible for SAP’s global Big Data Channel Go-to-Market Strategy and execution. I interact with Partners and Customers constantly, which teaches me every day something and makes me aware of topics of interest. These are the topics I discuss here in my blog.
To me, the customer always comes first, probably because I have been one myself for so many years and therefore have so much appreciation for operational aspects of any solution or technology.
I am fascinated by Technology and what it can do for a business. I am passionate about technical solutions that meet business needs AND are elegant, flexible and reusable for multiple use cases at the same time.
I was born in Munich, Germany, grew up in the restaurant and hotel industry and found myself managing Food & Beverage departments in hotels as a result, before I changed my career and stepped into the world of IT in 1992.
First I worked at a small Engineering Firm in Germany that solved IT problems for hotel chains as a hardware and software technician, trainer, and end-user support staff. The IT initiation I experienced during this time was very much enriched by the deep knowledge of distributed systems and UNIX as a platform of the owner – Frank Kreissel (his German UNIX User Group membership number was “32”). Apparently he had been active in the UNIX field for some time. He was a geek through and through, even wrote his own C compiler and called it “CC” (yeah, I know). He took me under his wings and I learned a lot and extremely fast. I helped to grow the 3-man company from 25 customer installations to 75 after almost 5 years. We build our own servers with EISA boards (before PCI existed), running mostly SCO UNIX or ACER/Altos UNIX (later some AIX as well) connected Wyse Terminals, Printers, and other devices first via RS232 connections (we soldered the cables ourselves) and later via TCP/IP connections, x-Terminals, and PCs. The software platform was a C-ISAM (Informix like) database and Frank’s programs running in “CC”. And we never missed an afternoon of coffee and cake (an old German afternoon ritual, which lends itself as a perfect status check on projects and chitchat which was before blogging and tweeting and really also before email or internet access as it exists today)
Eventually, I outgrew the company and moved on. I contracted for SunSoft and CVSI (formerly Prime) as a Solaris Administration Course Facilitator and third-level UNIX support before I moved to Los Angeles to work for The Walt Disney Company as a Senior Systems Specialist for UNIX (any and all flavors) in one of their data centers in Burbank, CA.
At Disney, I had my work first cut out in support of Y2K testing (yeah, I am sure some of you remember that as well and because of all of our combined testing and remediation efforts Y2K was more or less a non-event). Then I worked on systems monitoring and backup/recovery before I supported Disneyland’s SAP environment running R/3 4.6b on INFORMIX and HP-UX on HP K-Class systems. When I migrated these systems onto IBM RS-6000 H70 and H80 systems in preparation for “Disney’s California Adventure” Theme Park opening in 2001 I became more familiar with SAP and its infrastructure requirements of that time. In parallel I introduced the first centralized backup infrastructure in this data center as well with Netbackup 3.2 and an ATL P3000 SDLT library. (Little did I know at that time this solution would come back to haunt me 11 years later). I advanced through the ranks while continuing to deploy technology solutions enabled by AIX HACMP, NIM, HP Ignite, HP MC-Service Guard, and Solaris Jump Start. I mentored the junior Administrators on Solaris tricks, I supported a variety of applications (can’t name them here), introduced the data center’s first SAN in an FC/AL loop (not even switched) installed more SAP system EBP and CRM, deployed AIX P-series systems for Disney’s “Project Tomorrowland” global SAP implementation, and then finally joined the SAP basis team officially. Initially on Compaq StorageWorks HSG80 SAN controllers before we migrated to EMC Symmetrix.
As a member of the basis team on a true death-march project, I got my hands now on DB2 and SAP installation procedures, upgrades, TMS configurations, system refreshes, transports, HA, disaster recovery configurations, and tests, global template development, go-live deadlines, go-live waves, performance issues, troubleshooting, endless weekends and nights, 5-minute on-call response times. In short, everything most basis members around the world had to wrestle with. During the height of the project we managed over 50 SAP instances and over 350 P-Series and Windows systems (remember at that time we still had external ITS systems, A-Gate & W-Gate, SAP’s quick and dirty web enablement of that time – that was all before Netweaver) with up 750 TB SAN storage on Symmetrix and 8 TB DB2 R/3 database that grew 10GB/day (nobody had time to care about archiving – oh boy) with a basis team of 20.
And then? We outsourced SAP support and operation and everything changed. I was excited as one of very few that Disney retained in the capacity of SAP Basis Architects because I thought IBM would take us by the hand and will lead us into the IT-promised-land. Silly me! I actually expected us to continue the pace we had established, now directing innovation and enhancing SAP continuously with us on the Disney side and IBM taking care of daily SAP operations, so the business can focus on better things like producing movies, opening Theme Parks, building cruise ships, opening more Stores, covering sports events, re-inventing TV, broadcasting entertainment of any kind, while the SAP systems pay everybody, manage e-procurement, report on HR and financials, help close the books faster, settle all credit cards, and show title profitability. While the company successfully went about everything I describe here, the SAP systems did not experience the level of constant innovation that enables additional value for the business and I am going to leave it at that. (Contact me if you want to know more, I am happy to chat offline) We did however, introduce Solution Manager, manage to upgrade BW to 7.1, upgrade R/3 to ECC 6 including UNICODE conversion (of a, by then, 12TB database), introduce encryption for PCI data, migrate to another data center, upgrade EBP to SRM, upgrade DB2 several times, refresh server hardware, upgraded AIX and HACMP, test D/R procedures twice a year, conduct a VMAX/XIV bake off and migrated systems to new Storage.
By then, I took on additional responsibilities to redesign the data protection solution for all domestic data centers. (Remember a project I was involved in 11 years ago?) I designed a Data Domain based solution with encryption and replication build in, included standard backup and retention policies, reduced tape foot print, enhanced reporting, and as a result increased SLAs and restored Backup Service confidence. We actually designed a complete Data Protection and Data Management Framework that would have protected and managed data differently based on its “time value” to the business. But I think we were ahead of our time.
With the help of EMC as a sponsor and most major Entertainment Company basis teams represented, I created a local SAP user group with focus on infrastructure related topics, like Virtualization, Disaster Recovery, SAP roadmap, system refresh procedures, data protection strategies, and best practices. The user group is still active and actually expanding.
Eventually, I wanted to get into more SAP infrastructure scenarios, deeper into the value of technology, and more involved in a variety of SAP challenges, and I found my next home at EMC’s SAP practice in August of 2012.