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I have been passionate about SAP ever since I started with working with SAP PI for 6 years ago. I had a lot of good ideas for small add-ons to SAP Process Integration (PI). Some of the ideas could be possible and was deployed at customer’s site. At Applicon.dk where I worked we made a few tools or add-ons we were able to use on project. Some was released as open source like Detroubulator or my documentation tool. It was not possible to start with selling and supporting them.  I think other developers or even business people have ideas to smaller enhancements of the SAP platform that could give customers a better view of what is going on. 

Most of the products we created at Applicon, was more like accelerators used to get a client or help the client with a particular job. It gave some consulting time to work on implementing the applications. The cost of selling the applications was too high compared to the possible revenues from them. It would take a long time to make sure the product is tested and ready to large scale deployment. So it was easier to get consultant fees for developing on the product.

This meant that a lot of customers and consultants have spent a lot of time developing the same types of solutions. For consultants it has been a good business, but could they have made more if they were able to advertise and sell their small accelerators globally. Customers have spent a lot of time on developing add-ons to their needs, instead of getting an accelerator or a product that somebody else have made.

Now there is the Ecohub, which seems like a great place to make sure that all your products can be seen. I may not have understood the terms of the Ecohub. The way I understand Ecohub is that the product should SAP certified. I think the requirement of the certification is a really good idea, to make sure there is a level of quality in the products.

I’m currently working on developing an add-on to SAP PI to help make things easier to maintain. I’m a small company and I don’t have the capital (at the moment) to get my software certified. I’m hoping that it will be possible to go thru the process, when I have started to make money on my product. For the moment I’ll have to rely on other sources of marketing and traffic. Luckily I hope that it is possible in todays world. I’m really looking forward to start opening for customers and start adding value to them.

P.s. I you like to be one of the first how see my new product, go to Figaf.com and signup to my mailing list.

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19 Comments

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  1. Luke Marson
    Good blog.

    I think aspiring vendors can look towards people like Nakisa (SAP Visualization Solutions by Nakisa) and Clicksoftware (SAP Workforce Optimization by Clicksoft) to see how you can become a successful SAP software vendor through innovation and clever design.

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  2. Gavin Quinn
    I’ve also been looking at a number of enhancements for SAP. There are a couple of major difficulties:
    1. Getting a test system. If you are a small business, the RAC service is not affordable (>$1000 month). Also, there is no way to get a test system (IDES) without certification.
    2. Certification is way too expensive. To do an ABAP Add-In, it can easily cost over $20,000! They need to offer something for independents or small vendors.
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    1. Daniel Graversen
      Hi Gavin,

      You are correct. It is really expensive. I did not know any of the numbers so that why i did not mention any.
      I’m hoping that there will be an option.
      I dont want to buy a SAP system, because then I will also have to maintain it.
      So the ideal for me would be able to rent an amazon pi system, when I need to test my code.

      Daniel

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      1. Gavin Quinn
        Daniel,

        Renting the Amazon system may be a good way to go. Did you have a method for getting the PI system up on Amazon’s cloud? One of the challenges with the Amazon systems is that they are expensive to get systems with more memory. I have a small system now which I run Netweaver 702, and it has minimal memory for $250/month. PI though, with the dual-stack (unless it’s the new Java-only PI), would need probably 4x the resources, or closer to $1000/mo again… Also, that system still needs to be installed and configured, and so-on.

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        1. Daniel Graversen
          If there was an image where there was a pi installation. Then you could start from there.

          Hopefully it will be possible to stop the instance when it is not in use.

          But a shared server would probably be a better idea.

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          1. Bijay Shrestha
            Hi Daniel,

            It’s a very good blog.
            Hi Gavin, nice to see you in SDN.

            I agree with both you and Gavin in the thread that developing, testing and trying to work with SAP as an Independent Consultant or small vendor is a nightmare. It’s very expensive.
            At one time I even invested into NW license (meant to be for independent consultants) from SAP thinking that I’d work with few other independent friends and get my ROI. But I failed to recruit any friends to chip in plus the NW license I bought was NOT IDES system. So I just wasted my money and time.
            If bunch of small Independent Consultants can work as a group, I think its possible to get certified from SAP and someone could host for that group. I have built server myself and host myself for my test purpose. But running just for yourself for fun is expensive.

            Bijay

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            1. Gavin Quinn
              Bijay,

              Nice to hear from you as well! I had a phone call today to find out the least expensive possible way to get an IDES system.

              – IDES is only possible with dev license.
              – Dev license has minimum of 3 users.
              – Each user is 3500 euros + 22% yearly.
              – Dev license is only given with certification.
              – The least expensive certification is 7000 euros.

              So, not including the hosting (which is 1100 euros per month from RAC / SAP for only 3 user system), the first year is 17,500 euros, or a little over $25,000! Not exactly possible for an independent developer…

              I can see charging for certification, but a dev license should be a nominal fee (<$500), otherwise you are basically limiting your development community to large corporations.

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      2. Martin English
        Regardless of whether you run SAP as an Amazon system, a virtual system or a ‘real’ system under your desk, you will / should pay SAP licence fees. The only way to get a free licence is via the Developer Trial systems, or as an employee of a Customer or Partner.

        Having said that, an issue with SAP licencing for Amazon instances (and most PaaS vendors) is that copying an Amazon Image also copies the avariables used to determine the SAP Hardware key. This is ‘sort of’ ok for the developer trial systems; there’s no money passing hands.  However, this means that for the other products, I can install multiple landscapes with identical SystemIds, for the cost of one licence.

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  3. Mrinal Wadhwa
    Hi Daniel,

    I was thinking on the same lines as you are 3 years ago and I explored the possibility of selling small addons/libraries/tools etc. to other SAP developers but I hit the same walls you’re hitting now. SAP’s policies make it impossible for small players to play in their ecosystem.

    I think many inside SAP don’t see that there is value in enabling a business model for independent developers, any comparison with mobile app stores gets immediately thrown out the window with reasons like quality, security etc.

    But, lets consider the example you gave, a small add on, lets say hypothetically it costs one developer $20,000 worth of time to build this add on, now lets say there are 200 teams around the world that need this addon (generally there are more), now since they can’t buy it from anywhere they all develop it independently, total cost to SAP customers $20000×200 = $4million .. instead if these 200 teams could’ve just bought this addon from the developer for say $140 … total costs to SAP customer $28000, that is 0.007 of what it would’ve costed the customers otherwise. The independent developer who made the addon earns a 40% premium on his hourly rate, that makes is so much better for him than consulting work. The teams who bought the addon get to focus on solving more complex problems rather than focusing on the this redundant add on. SAP gets happy customers. Everybody wins !

    But, what about quality ? .. well actually its way better than the one off implementation that the consulting team would’ve made, because the same addon gets used over and over again its quality improves because of all the feedback it receives from repeated use by new customers, and these new improvements can also be sent to old customers. This process of natural selection and improvement actually ensures that only the highest quality code gets used in production. I think this process will work way better than any certification process … we all know that that its impossible to reliably vet the quality of code without trying it out in a real environment for some time.

    I have no problem with certification per say but as you and Gavin mention, the cost is prohibitive … if the independent developer has to spend $7000 on certification/licences, he has no profit margin to sell the addon, he goes back to consulting, customers go back to spending $4million for the same addon.. Everyone Looses !

    Since my own experience with this, I’ve brought this topic up in every SAP Executive – Mentors discussion I’ve been in and in most cases they get it, to quote Vishal Sikka from TechEd last year, he said “We HAVE to fix this !” … Yet, I haven’t seen a lot of improvement in the situation over the last three years.

    I think this discussion is becoming all the more important as we move from an OnPremise world to and OnDemmand world where APIs are abundant and project budgets are limited.

    So I hope SAP can figure this out soon.

    Good luck with the new venture,
    With regards,
    Mrinal

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    1. Daniel Graversen
      Hi Mrinal

      Just my point. Both cusomters and consultants(ISVs) could make money on the project.

      I hope that at some point that it will happen. It is really nice to see that other have had the same ideas.

      /daniel

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  4. Michael Krigsman
    Years ago, in the mid-to-late nineties, SAP was riding high and growing incredibly. At that time, the company created policies that restricted the flow of technical information and therefore kept the consultant community relatively smaller than it otherwise would have been.

    For example, official SAP training was restricted to customers and even technical information was not easily available to the general public.

    I’m sure SAP would say it took such measures in the name of quality. While that may be true, it also had the effect of closing opportunities to new consultants and therefore keeping prices high.

    Today, the policies described in this post are out of touch with current market realities and sensibilities.

    If SAP was serious about about addressing these issues, they would already be changed.

    Given the changing market realities, and the company’s stated position on innovation, it’s time for SAP to relax outmoded policies such as those described in this post.

    I believe this is an important issue.

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  5. Sebastian Simon
    Hi Daniel,
    Being stuck in the same situation, these are valid points, in my oppinion the entry level is too high for small companies or single consultants.

    Especially for PI there are so many custom developments done over and over again (adapter modules, custom monitoring anyone?), it would be quite worthy to have a lean model for developing addons like this (especially about licencing)

    Cheers
            Sebastian

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  6. Gregory Misiorek
    Hi Daniel,

    i would like to see other small independents share their ideas as to how they have tried to tame the beast. at the moment, i haven’t seen any good solution except from renting at a relatively low price (less than $100 per month per user) from virtual vendors. they provide a minimum support, too, but once you are off, anything you have done is a throw away. also, there is no landscape to see your work move through the development cycle. i’m trying to avoid any “BASIS” tasks and ideally would like to do configuration only.

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    1. Gavin Quinn
      I think an investor would want to see a simple demonstration before they invest. There is currently no way to do this. If someone has a well thought-out business plan and a great product idea and knows all of the ins and outs of the system, they could find someone to give them $25,000. But most developers just explore a system until they come up with an innovative idea.

      Look at the Apple App Store. Do you think that the phone would have 100,000+ apps and an incredible and innovative community if it cost $25,000 to even get started with development? No, it’s only a few hundred dollars. And that is why Apple grows at 50-100% per year, and SAP grows at 0%.

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    2. Daniel Graversen
      Hi,
      It would be nice to get investers in my project, but not because of getting money to invest in a systems setup. The money should be spend on development and marketing.

      Daniel

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