|The SAP Champions Spotlight Interview Series highlights key strategic topics, such as emerging technologies, learning, and other topics, and provides insights from SAP Champions and SAP leaders on turning ideas into innovative approaches that impact people, process, and technology.|
Unlocking hidden information is critical to a community.
When experts and fellow community members share their knowledge to help overcome roadblocks and provide valuable insights, many win-wins can take place.
Shining the light on specific topics related to current and emerging technologies, processes, and empowering users can lead to dramatic increases in individuals’ and organizations’ performance and productivity.
However, in order to connect the dots on a given topic, it takes time – assessing, researching, and collaborating – to pinpoint the specific issue, challenge, and solution.
When ideas and innovation are shared with the community, it can lead to a more accurate picture of the topic and a series of suggested next steps which lead to successful outcomes!
For example, he went above and beyond to create his own materials for SAP HANA training courses. Additionally, when the Log4j security vulnerability was reaching alarming levels, he wrote an encompassing blog which was viewed by an impressive 26,000+ individuals in the first two weeks.
It was great to reach out to Jens from his home office in the Kronach, Bavaria, Germany area!
Stephanie De Camara Marley (SM): Hi Jens! Great to catch-up! What inspired you to attend the prestigious Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI) which set you on your career journey to becoming the Managing Director at XLC (Crossload Consulting GmbH)? At HPI, did you have a favorite course or project?
Jens Gleichmann (JG): I attended the In-Memory Computing course at HPI twice. At that time, I started to be a trainer for two SAP HANA courses (HA100 + HA200). I wanted to know everything well beyond the instructor guide to answer all the participants’ questions. So, I started creating my own material alongside the SAP guides. One of my sources regarding how the compression works was HPI. I was impressed by the style and how clearly Hasso talks about in-memory computing, especially when it involves some of his past experiences.
SM: How did you become an SAP Champion? In this role, how do you engage with Community members?
JG: I don’t know what was decisive in the end, but here is my story to becoming one of the first SAP Champions in 2019…
I attended a lot of SAP TechEd events, talked to the SAP Mentors and connected with them after the events. Over the years, I’d been invited to community events and other get-togethers organized by the community itself.
Overall, I try to be the “go-to-guy” for the community on the technical HANA topics. So, I share my knowledge in blogs to close the gaps of the official documentation and hands-on parts.
In addition, together with several colleagues whom I met at an SAP Community event in Barcelona, we set up the SAP regulars’ table in Upper Franconia (“Oberfanken”), since we realized that we don’t live too far away. We both missed having a Stammtisch in our region, and that was the day the SAP Stammtisch Oberfranken was born.
Summary: It was my visibility at events and the time which I spent (and still spend) on the Community to share my knowledge that helped grant me the SAP Champion status. (Note: Find SAP community events that are relevant for you.)
SM: Tell us more about your experiences with the SAP Stammtisch (aka an informal SAP Community meeting). You have put together many of them! Do you have any that are “regularly” scheduled, or more ad-hoc? Do you have a preferred meeting spot (e.g., restaurants, pubs, beer gardens, virtual, or any other meeting spaces)? What’s a favorite topic?
JG: To start such a regular meeting in our region was quite hard. To find a fitting time slot during the week and a location which is not too far for all participants was a high hurdle. But over time, we found a solution and decided on the last Thursday of every month.
But another hurdle was to communicate with all the interested participants. Some wanted to be invited by mail, community page, XING, meetup, phone or via Twitter. After a wiki page resource was shut down with no identified alternative, a calendar with events was selected so that everyone could be informed.
We started to have one meeting spot in Lichtenfels, Bavaria, but we also switched to Würzburg and Bamberg, Germany. Currently Bamberg, one of the most famous beer cities, represents our meeting hot spot at a variety of restaurants and pubs.
We have no favorite topic. Everyone is welcome to talk about projects, issues, and also other non-SAP related topics. A lot of people share their experience and connect for company knowledge exchange.
SM: You have written over 50 SAP Community blogs with over 500,000 views. What motivates you to write about so many different subjects? How do you choose them?
JG: I started writing blogs back in 2008 including early ones on WebServices from SAP ABAP via HTTPS.
I write about topics which are not documented well and not easy to understand. Topics which need some researching are my favorite one’s, but sometimes I ask on Twitter what should be the next hot topic.
I started with ABAP Basis topics, SAP BW (Business Warehouse) administration, and now I write mostly about HANA, Linux, and virtualization.
Sometimes, years later, when I read my own blogs, I have forgotten some details and say to myself: It’s good that I wrote it down – so that it won’t be forgotten.
SM: SAP HANA security to protect important data is critical. With your blog series, HANA secure network communication (Part 1 & 2), you share many useful insights (e.g., x.509 certificates, TLS (Transport Layer Security), SSL (Secure Socket Layer), etc.). What is the best starting point for IT security professionals to address and protect their data from unauthorized access?
JG: Be paranoid, be up-to-date and be prepared J
When it comes to security, you can’t be overcautious. The best starting points are the best practice and best experience guides which are mostly official documents. Stay informed with the latest security news:
You should also have a coordinated plan if there are any new security issues in your environment. Identify, rate, and react – just don’t panic. I think that’s what we’ve learned in the past from security issues like log4j (Blog: HANA XSA log4j CVE-2021-44228), which I spend a lot of nights understanding further.
SM: When you connect with students and recent graduates, what guidance do you share to help them gain traction into high quality technology jobs? In your case, you started as an SAP Basis Administrator. What types of roles help gain the skills and experiences needed to accelerate an SAP IT career?
JG: Be hungry for information and new topics. Listen to your mentor, build your network on your topics, and share your knowledge. If you share information, you will get feedback. No matter what feedback you receive, the constructive criticism of others will make you better at your topics.
You must find topics which you love to work on. Only with such topics can you burn for it and be good at what you do – that gives you the breath for the extra mile 😉 My accelerator was to not stop being hungry – still I can eat a lot 😀
(Tip: Join SAP Community Groups to discuss with others your important topics. Once in–click the avatar on the upper right to get started.)