Since I’m active on SCN, taking part at many Customer Engagement Initiatives and being familiar both with NW 7.31 and 7.40 on HANA I think I was well prepared for this year’s TechEd but nevertheless the event offered many exciting news.

In this blog I will cover some most important news about SAP NetWeaver platform and my thoughts about the most promising technologies for creating next-generation business applications. I’ll close with an advice for SAP: what errors should SAP try avoid and in what kind of technology SAP should invest especially with regards to HANA.

NetWeaver as Platform for Next-Generation Business Apps

From my perception the main topics of SAP TechEd Amsterdam have been “HANA”, “Cloud” and “Fiori” – at least this was SAP marketing would like us to think. Of course these are big topics and I will come back to them later but one thing is more remarkable: SAP invested in SAP NetWeaver infrastructure to make them ready for modern applications which have outstanding capabilities:

  • They are more transparent compared to the old customizing driven applications that have no intrinsic documentation and are only understandable changeable by specialists. As a consequence next-generation business apps are easier to maintain and to change.
  • With new tools you can create new applications using defined programming paradigms within short time and also achieve compatibility with data models from SAP standard.
  • SAP invested in connectivity especially in security infrastructure. This is obviously necessary for integration of our systems into enterprise architecture f.e. in mobile scenarios. SAP improved tool support so that there is no excuse for administrators that believe, RFC scenarios can only be done with system user and this automatically means S_RFC * resp. SAP_ALL authorizations. This war false in the past and becomes ridiculous right now  – moreover it is now possible to switch off RFCs that are not used in scenarios to make SAP systems less vulnerable.

Let’s look at some of these topics in more detail.

Decision Management within the Enterprise

The business rule framework BRFplus evolved to SAP NetWeaver Decision Management and this changes a lot for you as ABAP Developer. With BRFplus and DSM you implement transparent business rules even business user can understand and test. You can deploy and undeploy them easily into systems (even hot deployment) even into systems on a very low release level.

BRFplus and DSM are sophisticated and advanced tools that make SAP applications easier to develop, to run, to maintain, to test and to change. They even allow code pushdown to HANA which allows to look at the effects of changes of business rules by applying them on operational data.

DSM is is open so that partners can build their add-ons. In fact there are already partner solutions like DecisionsFirst Modeler and DSA – Decision Service Accelerator. In his sessions and lecturesCarsten Ziegler announced more exciting features and gave an outlook about the future roadmap of DSM.

IMHO DSM has enormous potential and software architects and developers should learn how to use it to create business applications that are easier to change in shorter time and can help business users to understand the impact of changes by doing simulations on operational data. So BRFplus and DSM will lead to a better corporate decision management which will help to get an advantage over competitors.

Rapid Development of Business Application in ABAP

Oliver Jaegle introduced the Business Objects Framework BOPF in Amsterdam. IMHO every ABAP developer who is interested in rapid development of transactional applications has to know  these techniques he described in his blog entry: http://scn.sap.com/community/abap/bopf/blog/2013/10/08/agile-custom-development-with-bopf-and-fpm–session-at-teched-amsterdam

If software architects and developers want to reduce implementation costs, follow a proven and standardized programming model and keep compatibility with SAP standard applications they have to learn those frameworks. But it’s not only about speed of development and so costs, BOPF follows a metadata driven approach that also makes business applications transparent and easier to change.

SAP was Listening

For everyone interested in In-Memory technology the following is really exciting and probably the biggest HANA related news:

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SAP opened HANA up for enterprise storage systems which really simplifies and unifies processes and system architecture in data centers.

My Advice to SAP: Please slow down and help us adopt new Concepts and implement new Technology

The latter is a very good example that SAP listened and made adoption of new technology easier. In fact this was my most important message when talking to SAP executives and product owners at SAP TechEd. Within the last months SAP has created many products and improved existing ones and added remarkable features that we can use for In-Memory and classical applications.

Now it is time to learn about, implement and use the new and outstanding features. With events like SAP TechEd, SAP Inside Tracks and platforms like the SAP Community Network, demo systems and so on it easy to understand and learn the new techniques.

From my experience the same is not true for implementation and I wrote some blogs about it. It seems to me that the speed of SAP was too high in the last one or two years and like in traffic speed leads to accidents and this means too many bugs and poorly integrated solutions. Now it is time for consolidation and making existing solutions easier to implement.

I think SAP has no other chance otherwise customers and partners will have problems to implement the solution with the consequence that new technology won’t be adopted and -as Jim Snabe explained very well– invention has to scale to become innovation.

DSM as SAP’s Technology with Highest Potential for Business Applications Powered by HANA

In the past SAP was successful because it created a platform that makes it easy to create business applications. Of course all new technologies like SQL Script, ABAP for HANA are absolutely necessary  and they are in fact an enabler for creating completely new types of applications that help us tofind better decisions and of course the decision making process needs to be automated. And most important: the decision making tools should be powered by HANA and business people have to be able to understand them.

I already pointed that in my opinion that the most important aspect of HANA is not speed – it is an enabler for decision making in analytical as well as operational processes. So far I know only Decision Service Management is the tool having that kind of properties we need:

  • decision services can be implemented that business people can discuss them – this makes them transparent and easy to change
  • some type of decision services can be pushed down into HANA and so can work efficiently with mass data
  • decision services can be integrated in the rest of NetWeaver and Business Suite reuse tools for business programming like above mentioned BOPF, business workflow as well as every ABAP application

I think this is the most promising direction SAP should invest and – at least for me – the TechEd session of Carsten Ziegler about the roadmap of SAP NetWeaver DSM was most promising and inspiring especially because of its HANA roadmap. It was a little funny, because I realized this enormous potential of DSM together with HANA while I was interviewing Carsten Ziegler at SAP TechEd live:

When I started this interview it was my decision not to talk about much about SAP HANA although I’m involved in many HANA projects and we’re implementing it for our customers. Because HANA was omnipresent at TechEd Amsterdam I decided to shed some light on decision management which is in my opinion one of the biggest innovations in the area of SAP NetWeaver. Of course I covered Big Data and In-Memory in this interview but time was already nearly over and there would be so much more to tell. As I already mentioned this technology has huge potential and in the future I will definitely use with and of course share my experience with it.

In his SAP TechEd keynote in Amsterdam Bernd Leukert made a beautiful comparison of pointillism in Van Gogh’s paintings and Big Data and came to a central message: “Any business problem can be transformed into a real-time answer independent  of the size of the data to solve that problem. But what does it really means for business? It means a complete empowerment of people, it means freedom, it means going to new horizons.”  So as TechEd visitor I followed that advice and joined the lectures about platform innovation (security is a very important topic) and technologies that can create synergy or can get empowered by HANA. And I hope in the next SAP events and of course SAP TechEd I would like to hear more about DSM and other tools that are enabler for next-generation business applications. I would like to see those topics in a more focused and prominent position next year’s TechEd. Of course it was already there in Amsterdam but I’m not sure whether everyone understood the enormous potential.

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6 Comments

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  1. Mariana Mihaylova

    Hi Tobias, Carsten,

    Thanks for the very informative and comprehensive interview. Great questions Tobias!

    I really look forward to reading about your experiences with DSM technology. Great to hear that you realized its great potential and I am sure your blogs will help others as well.

    As of where to find (and contribute!) DSM content and conversations, the right place is the Business Rules Management space on SCN and the SAP NetWeaver DSM learning base.

    Thanks again,

    Mariana

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  2. Oliver Jaegle

    Dear Tobias,

    thank you so much for this excellent wrap-up. I couldn’t agree more, particularly what you wrote about the need for time for adaptation. I would like to add one wish to that: Be more verbose about the skills required for each product and when to use it. Until now, being a “SAP-developer” meant being an ABAP-developer – particularly after the unhappy Java-episode during Shai’s reign. The new technologies all are based on quite different technology: As one of those old-fashioned “SAP developers”, I’m getting a tiny bit scared by being already confronted with requests like “we want to go for HANA. What do we need to do?”. This TechEd tought me to ask “Which HANA-product do you mean?”

    • HANA DB => Declarative programming in SQLScript
    • HANA Cloud => Enterprise Java with MAVEN-deployment and JPA
    • HANA XS => Javascript and some DSL for modeling

    I have already practiced that question-in-return once. The effect was that the inquirer was even more scared about the plethora of tech and the diversity of skills necessary in order to master them – and to properly staff a project with people from the “SAP department”.

    Another aspect which is worth thinking about is the latency of adaption of new technology at customer’s side. Particularly after seeing the variety, there is at least some danger that customers perceive the technology as “experimental” and there has to be a huge need for innovation in order to rely on it in a production environment.

    This is where I believe that the technologies you mentioned are in the first starting row: BRF+/DSM and BOPF are both innovative but yet established. They are available on the releases many customers are running and – last but not least – appear to be manageable by one of the old-fashioned ABAP-guys like me.

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    1. Tobias Trapp Post author

      Hi Oliver,

      you are absolutely right, especially in you analysis that SAP technology is getting more diverse. Today an SAP developer has be able to master ABAP OO, development of proxies in SOA scenarios, he or she has to understand CRUD to implement mobile application in the backend and last but no least he has to understand how to develop database centric applications.

      It seems to me that SAP created a wide portfolio of different tools, languages, APIs, SDKs and so on. I believe that there is an enormous potential for synergy – but I am also sure that in the end not every technology will be successful. For a success of a technology one of the following conditions are necessary:

      • a successful technology is disruptive but it is so powerful that we accept the disruptivity
      • a successful technology allows to evolve SAP Business Suite in a non-disruptive way.

      In my opinion a new technology like BOPF should not only support new technologies like WDA, BRFplus and so on, they should also have adapters so that we can use it in a legacy environment like Business Data Toolset. This would make perfect sense and leads to an evolutionary path for industry solutions like IS-U or Insurance to better data models that have CRUD properties which we need for mobile scenarios and support migration to WDA. I think this is the next evolutionary step for BOPF as enabler for technological evolution of SAP Business Suite. But therefore we need new adapters to get the connection to the “legacy” world.

      Best Regards,

      Tobias

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  3. Steven Spronk

    Hi Tobias,

    First of all, nice wrap up. Second, I agree with your advice to SAP regarding HANA. After the initial phase of exploring the possibilities it is now time to exploit the HANA platform. That means that adoption should be made easy.

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  4. Juan-Carlos Garcia-Garavito

    Hi Tobias:

    It is very possible SAP will not totally take your advice to slow down and help us adopt new Concepts and implement new Technology.   Software competition has been in a speeding crash collision course for decades due to the lack of professionalism (some people may call it the need for being ahead of the competition, other ones, the mandate sales department have to show numbers at any price), as they lean on the patching foundation principle, moving from fixing a hole on the wall, that we had decades ago, to having to develop a full wall around a frame we are trying to hang on something, almost on the air, when we are called to be part of a recently released version of .. you name it.

    If at least they did not:

    1.  change the names of the same things, as it is already difficult enough to learn the new “stuff”.

    2.  triplicate the work for us unnecessarily and I am going to give an example that many may have in their own area of expertise.   In Solution Manager, years ago they came with SMSY to manage System landscapes, Products, Technical Systems, etc.   Then, they implemented SLD as a Java solution with x or y excuses but they did not migrate SMSY totally to SLD, and now they came with LMDB because of the issues with Oracle owning Java.  C’ommon!!!  … and we have to learn 3 things to do almost the same work, and who is the manager that nowadays accepts that the same technician takes 3 times more to do the same work.

    3.  hide things over and over like what happens in SPRO.  In one version something is under a certain tree of folders and the next version a creative body of people decide to move it somewhere else where it makes more sense.  And we move over and over version after version with the same navigation issues that just makes us waste time.  This sample with SPRO is in many other areas.   Ask the Solution Manager experts to tell you the deal to get the same log file from version to version.

    I should only complain for the fact that I like learning new things, as many may agreem but totally dislike when I have to learn again something that was already mastered in a certain way, wasting time trying to decipher where “my wife decided to put the thermo that I desperately need for my trip today, and which I have been stored in the same drawer for years (where it is expected to be found always).”     Sorry wife, is it not the intention, it is just that I was trying to grab an example any may identify with.

    There may be a saying like “new technology feeds grey hair and bald heads.”  Any new version [of any software/hardware product] you get to work with, feeds 10 years to your hair or hairless condition.   The problem is that new versions do not take 10 years to be released, only 2 or 3.

    Cheers,

    Juan

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