I’m currently attending the Influencer Summit in Boston. Yesterday, Jim Hagemann Snabe mentioned that SAP needed SuccessFactors’ cloud DNA. One almost got the impression that SAP’s cloud DNA was non-existent.
Today will be a day focused on SAP’s cloud strategy. We’ll be getting details of the involved platforms from various executives. SAP’s Java-focused Edge Platform as a Service (PaaS) (NetWeaver Neo / Project River) will be getting some needed attention. Unfortunately, the information about the platform provided in the past was very general. If you know where to look, however, you can find additional clues that provide some interesting insights. In this blog, I’d like to surface two such clues.
Spring Roo Integration
At the recent SAP communities ROCK! there was a team from SAP Research Software Engineering Tools (SET) that demoed a Spring Roo integration for NetWeaver Neo. This eight minute presentation during the event’s DemoJam (2:00 – 10:00) shows the integration live.
Spring Roo is an extensible, text-based open source RAD tool for Java technology. It is a powerful resource for creating and managing Spring-based applications. Here is the mission statement: Roo’s mission is to fundamentally and sustainably improve Java developer productivity without compromising engineering integrity or flexibility. [SOURCE]
The demoed integration is a very powerful one and allows Java developers to very rapidly create the scaffolding (Persistence / HANA, UI , etc) and concentrate on their business logic rather than the low-lying code associated with the Neo/PaaS-specific integration needs. This ability is critical, because it increases the productivity of developers moving to SAP’s new platform. For those developers with Spring Roo experience, a transition to the new platform is greatly simplified. I’m assuming that developers with existing Spring Roo projects can also easily port their apps to Neo.
This tool demonstrates SAP’s realization that this new platform can only be successful if developers in other ecosystems (in this case, those associated with SpringSource) are courted. In order to be successful, SAP must look beyond its own ecosystem. By supplying tools with which these developers are familiar, they make a transition to this new platform easier. This realization is also demonstrated by the extensive use of popular open source framework in NetWeaver Neo.
I met the team doing this work at a The SET InnoCamp 2011 for SAP’s SET Research team, found their work very interesting and am excited that they have decided to make their work public.
Neo-based SAP Applications
Some question the importance of this Java-based platform in terms of SAP’s cloud strategy. The fact that SAP is planning to use this new platform for a variety of new applications is often missed. One such application is the new Portal OnDemand offering:
On Demand Portal is based on SAP Cloud Platform for Java-based applications (aka NetWeaver Neo) and SAP HANA. This solution provides out-of-the-box secure and accelerated integration with customers’ on-premise system, allowing for content reuse. SAP Cloud Platform and SAP HANA – together with SAP Gateway – provide the means for developing new innovative applications that are deployed to the cloud and easily embedded into the sites. [SOURCE]
I know that there are a variety of other teams at SAP working on Neo-based applications. In order to increase public confidence in this upcoming platform, such activities should be more openly promoted.
I often tell SAP executives that with NetWeaver Neo they have the ability to shake up the OnDemand space. The platform is still being developed but it isn’t prudent to wait until it is finished before working more aggressively on increasing public awareness of its potential. The planned acquisition of SuccessFactors is one reaction to an often described perception that SAP’s cloud strategy is not clearly defined. In my opinion, SAP should show more self confidence and surface the too-often-hidden SAP Research projects or next generation applications that are associated with NetWeaver Neo. Such proactive marketing regarding NetWeaver Neo would invigorate the public’s perception of SAP’s efforts in this area.
SAP’s cloud DNA is still largely hidden away in its genes. I’m hopeful that the public won’t have to wait for a SAP Human Genome project to decipher more of it.