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How can ISVs can learn from SAP?

The SAP Guidelines for Best-Built Applications (in short BBA) that integrate with SAP Business Suite were made for independent software vendors (ISVs) that create applications “on top” of SAP Business Suite or complementing applications that tightly work together with SAP Business Suite.

The most important task of an software architect working for an ISVs is to answer the following questions:

  • Which technology should be used for which purpose?
  • What standards do I have to use for integration purposes?
  • What do I have to consider for application lifecycle management?

For an ISV the correct answers to those questions is tremendously important: A wrong decision will lead to wrong investigations. But the same is true for enterprise architects, system integrators who want to build bridges between non-SAP applications and the ABAP backend. But the same is true for larger custom development projects.

Who should read BBA guidelines?

BBA guidelines are no glossary they help you to understand important standards,  paradigms and SAP solutions for the following aspects:

  • application life-cycle management
  • process orchestration and service-oriented architecture
  • user interfaces and user experience
  • enterprise information management
  • business intelligence (BI) tools
  • guidelines for application development
  • security guidelines

So especially enterprise architects without deep SAP knowledge should use the guidelines to understand how SAP Business Suite as well as complementary application fit in the IT architecture of the enterprise. It will help to understand the technological  roadmap of SAP and will make communication with SAP consultants much easier. And helps you to verify whether consultants recommend solutions that are state of the art. Besides there a lot of concepts are explained: SAP system landscapes, service level agreements and much more.

What can SAP Customers learn from BBA guidelines?

It’s not surprising that most ISVs usually have similar development guidelines and quality standards like SAP: their software has to be tightly integration into SAP Business Suite, it must be robust, has to “survive” release upgrades and so on. But same is true for any larger development project of customers so customers should read the guidelines carefully to check whether they are consistent with SAP solutions for application lifecycle management, business intelligence, security and so on.

Another fundamental aspect are namespaces for software. For ISVs the BBA guidelines are clear: “SAP recommends that ISVs name software components uniquely to avoid name collisions with SAP software and with software components from other SAP partner companies.”  If an ISV would use the Z-namespace it would not be possible to install the software on any system outside his system landscape because of possible naming conflicts.

The use of ABAP-namespaces is a necessary (but not sufficient) condition to make software installable an various systems. They can help you to install ABAP applications on various systems, to relocate the development system and in merging and acquisition scenarios.

In Java development this is folklore but in ABAP? Just imagine what would happen if there would be only development in Z-namespace and the software of two SAP systems has to be merged in a system landscape scenario? So if you do custom development on a bigger scale you  should contact SAP to get a namespace.

Hidden Gems

SOA guidelines are one of my favourite topic of interest: I gave a lecture about development of Enterprise Services on a public SAP Mentor Monday webinar and I’m blogging frequently about Enterprise Services, Semantics of Web Services and Standards. I read a lot documents about SAP’s SOA strategy but my favourite is the fourth chapter “Process Orchestration and SOA Guidelines for Best-Built Applications” by Volker Stiehl and Dirk Ammermann.

Another hidden gem is the chapter about UI guidelines. In that chapter you’ll find lots of interesting information: a comparison between WD4J and WD4A, POWL in ABAP context and much more.

Summary

Information about the SAP product roadmap and best practices are tremendously important. For BBA guidelines more than 100 SAP architects, experts and SAP Mentors made contributions and reviewed the content of the book. For ISVs in the SAP Ecosystem it is a must read – but many other people can benefit from the guidelines.

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