That’s a huge statement. There are roughly 3,500,000 ABAP resources out there, many of them eager to be part of something “bigger” to the enterprise. Each day, ABAP resources contribute significantly to the value of the SAP instance, and virtually every SAP customer can count them in their ranks as employees or consultants.
If someone invents a technology that instantly shifts the focus of enterprise mobility from the current specialized nature to one that takes advantage of all these abundant resources, it would be something that many companies would jump on today. I suspect it would also be something that the ABAP community would embrace.
So, what is the impetus for this technology, and why now? I’m glad you asked.
The SAP Instance = The SAP Value
The underlying SAP architecture, at least as far as the instance is concerned, is one that is well established, solid, and reliable. Constructing key business functions and transporting them are fundamental and well-known practices. All of these business functions, either delivered when SAP was purchased or undertaken by the customer as an enhancement project, directly contribute to the value proposition of the instance. In fact, it is probably fair to offer that the longer a company has SAP, or the more enhancements they make, the more valuable the SAP instance becomes. In terms of the enterprise, arguably it is the instance, not anything out on the periphery that is the center of the universe.
At one point in the not too distant past, before mobility caused such a stir, SAP recognized and focused on exactly how much value was contained within the instance. Companies agreed and wanted to leverage this goodness everywhere they could. To accomplish this, SAP provided an interface strategy and architecture that is both architecturally impressive and sound. Enter the remotely enabled object.
ABAP Evolution Interrupted
The remotely enabled object, also know as the BAPI or RFC, in conjunction with the BOR architecture, provides for an impressive interface to the instance. It not only provides for a published and consistent interface to business functionality, but it also provides for security and development discipline, all in a manner consistent with existing COE or governance policies. Whether or not you consider it is as “sexy” or as “bling” as other interfaces (e.g. enterprise web services, etc.), it’s effectiveness and architectural considerations cannot be denied. It works. And best of all, it is an inherent part of the instance architecture. It costs nothing to use.
The other characteristic of the remotely enabled object is that it executes ABAP code. It is not just an impressive architecture, but also one designed to leverage the large number of ABAP resources.
Somewhere along the way, and for whatever reason, the focus and definition of business valueappears to have changed. Although the value of the business functions in the instance is undeniable, there appears to be a school of thought that perhaps, in the case of mobility, those functions must be improved. Not in the instance, for all to use, but on the periphery. In the middleware. Or even on the device.
Perhaps it’s just a focus to upgrade or improve the skill sets of the developers, or perhaps it’s something else. I simply don’t know. While it may be a change of focus based on admirable intentions, arguably, the fact remains that the SAP instance houses all of the business functions that matter, and enterprises continue to employ millions of ABAP resources for their care and feeding.
The High Cost of Acquiring New Value
Asking an organization to replicate business functionality from their SAP instance on another platform to support mobility is a tall order. Redeveloping existing functionality typically doesn’t provide for a rapid ROI. At best, you might get some payback over the long haul. At worst, there are multiple sets of business logic on multiple platforms, which may not all function consistently. If you are SOX or GxP validated, that’s not a position you want to find yourself in.
This fact is not lost on us, and we have embraced it.
So what is this “miracle technology” that is going to truly commoditize SAP mobility? How does it instantly create 3,500,000 new mobile resources?
Enterprise Rendering(TM) – Back to the Future
It’s called Enterprise Rendering(TM). It is a comprehensive, from-scratch, patent pending, technology designed to do one thing: enable mobility for the masses across any mobile device or carrier. It is a complex and solid design wrapped up in simplicity, usability, and extreme business value.
Let’s start with the SAP instance where all of the business value resides. That is exactly our core concept: all of the business value resides in the instance. Again, these are delivered business functions, or any other “z_object” type of business functions that may have been created along the way. Any of these business functions that you choose to remotely enable can be extended to your mobile users.
Practically speaking, this means that your SAP instance, specifically, those remote enabled objects, are your portfolio of mobile applications. Enterprise Rendering(TM) does not create or replicate business functionality, but rather it is best thought of as a pipeline or extension from the instance to the mobile user. In other words, you create all of your mobile functionality in your instance using ABAP, decide what functions you want to mobilize, and Enterprise Rendering(TM) takes care of the rest.
This also means phenomenal productivity. In fact, I was able to take BAPI_SALESORDER_CREATEFROMDAT2 and enable real-time order entry in less than 45 minutes, start to finish. List sales orders for a customer with a date search on BAPI_SALESORDER_GETLIST takes about 5 minutes. Jump from the sales order item material to real-time availability using BAPI_MATERIAL_STOCK_REQ_LIST takes about 20 minutes to enable, again start to finish. What the mobile industry terms “complex applications” can be tackled at the rate of several per day. That’s per individual developer.
The Enterprise Rendering(TM) Platform
Everything is point and click, drag and drop and built-in. You couldn’t write a line of code here if your life depended on it. With a half a day of training, your people can be productive.
There you have it – 3,500,000 instant mobility resources.
You can be up and running in minutes, and you can turn if off whenever you want. No risk, only value. The entire platform is designed to function as your own mobile utility provider. Everything you need to define, deploy, manage, and analyze usage is free. This includes on device testing, migration control, charting/graphing, signature capture, and linking between functions. You pay only for what you run in your production environment. Since you decide what you want to run, and whom you want to run it, you actually define your own ROI. Why pay for someone to be able to lookup a customer address when it’s the same cost to take an order or change MRP parameters dynamically? It’s all up to you to define your own value.
Mobility Everywhere Without Affecting Your Landscape
The entire Enterprise Rendering(TM) platform is offered as a cloud service. This means that there is zero infrastructure you need to be concerned about. In fact, there is nothing that you need to install. We access your instance(s) securely through your own VPN. Further, our SAP certification specifies we can speak directly through your own application servers, just like your local users. We can even work through a proxy, if need be. All of the instance functionality is executed within the instance based on credentials of the actual user, not a pooled user. This means your existing SAP security and licensing model is both utilized and enforced.
We support everything that your instance supports, and then some. All built in. SOX, GxP, one-click documentation, a full virtual SDLC environment supporting multiple concurrent global development projects, project control and quality control practices – the list goes on and on.
If fact, we are certified for Unicode compliance, so this is a global solution, not just a national one.
In upcoming blogs, I will be exploring the details of the Enterprise Rendering(TM) platform, including:
– Overview of the Platform Components
– Virtual SDLC, On-Device Testing, Approval Workflow, and Transport System
– The Rendering Workbench(TM), Dynamic Graphing and Charting and Signature Capture
– The Rendering Engine and Dynamic Device Adaptation
– Cloud and Platform Security Features
– Dynamic Usage Analytics