I was reading a blog post few days ago about a 2013 system bug. The bug really turned out to be standard known issue about batch data programs. However I then asked the question why are we still using BDC style input in 2003. I then realized that the whole SAP Netweaver concept turns ten at least for myself this year and are we really doing anything different. I know that many of you are going to shout HANA, mobility, Business Objects, Succesfactors and other items, but that is doing something else and not necessarily doing something different. The problem is that when I look at SAP ERP and even SAP CRM I still feel like I’m back in 2002 pre-netweaver for many important aspects.
What happened to ESA/SOA?
My first question is what happened to ESA/SOA? I’m not sure but I still see the concepts use for communicating for systems that interface with the SAP Business Suite, but why did the business suite not adopt SOA for communication between components such as ERP to CRM or ERP to SRM or ERP to SCM? Instead at least for SAP CRM we have a very reliable but RFC based method of communicating between systems. Even though there are layers of abstractions on this framework, we are still stuck on a model where systems needs to match exact version numbers and have development synced to deliver new innovation. I thought SOA/ESA was supposed to free us from this problem as long as both systems could communicated via enterprise services and agree on a common semantic interface layer. It would have interesting to see the results if this had happened.
Why do I still have that SAP GUI on my desktop?
To be fair SAP did replace a good portion of the user interface for SAP CRM so that the average business user only needs a web browser. However for SAP ERP, the SAP GUI lives on and I understand that SAP has gradually offered replacement webdynpro apps, but my real question is why isn’t 100% of the ERP experience via web browser. In addition I don’t want anymore fat clients period on my desktop. Yep I’m going to say this but don’t trade me SAP GUI for eclipse. I want 100% browser based system configuration/maintenance/development experience that works on my tablet of choice. Yep I’m not impressed by all the new development tools in eclipse for cloud applications. Real innovation in development would require a new model that is completely cloud based, instead of just repointing fat client desktop tools to a different destination. Yes I’m the guy who still remembers being told that eventually all I will ever need to access SAP applications is a web browser.
Can we not repeat the same mistakes?
In asking these questions, I want to know will the world of 2023 look any different or will the next generation business applications make the same mistakes. In addition with maintenance extended to 2020, will we just end up with the SAP GUI staying around forever. Will new components of on-premise or cloud applications communicate in semantic layers that don’t require precise version numbers. In addition will people making the development tools for cloud solutions please loose their addictions to thick desktop clients and provide cloud-based development tools for cloud-based applications that don’t require thick desktop clients.
Back to the Future again
As the saying goes as more things change, more things stay the same. Even though there is a lot of exciting innovation that is supposed to change everything, if we do not execute those ideas to full completion we will remain in the past. I honestly would have liked to have written a blog this year that would have said ten years of netweaver and look how the user interface was so quaint in 2003 and how SOA saved us from the release synchronization issues. Will the new innovations being presented as the solution to our problems, actually solve the problems, or in 2023 will be facing the same issues as in 2013. I see the promise the of the innovations, but I need to be shown(I’m from Missouri the Show-Me State) the execution into reality.