Recently, we’ve seen Thorsten Franz betting his livelihood on the convergence of OLTP and OLAP into one transparent system. Preferably on HANA. I strongly believe in this concept and I’m sure that he will succeed. Where Thorsten leaves it in the middle whether that HANA box will be on-premise, or in the Cloud, I’m willing to go even a step further and claim that the entire future of SAP products lies on the HANA Cloud Platform.

That doesn’t mean that on-premise solutions are going to disappear any time soon. I’m pretty sure that, 10 years from now, many companies will still be running trusty ECC8.x instances on-premise, just like there are still IBM Mainframes around. But I think that the real future, the strategic direction, is with the HANA Cloud Platform.

[To illustrate this, add some *Zing* and because it’s popular to post cat pictures, here’s a picture of a cat guarding your datacenter in the cloud, opposed to a cat guarding your ERP system in your bassment.]

Cloud_cat.png /wp-content/uploads/2013/11/bassment_cat_323874.png

We’ve already witnessed how SAP has ported their ERP and CRM systems onto HANA, but we’ve also heard them say that HANA is not just about speed, it’s also about simplification. What better opportunity to simplify than to start with a white sheet of paper? Forget about the legacy for a second, and just create new business applications, from scratch, leveraging the power of a completely “new” platform. SAP already knows the business process through and through, now translate it into a simple straightforward solution, without pulling all sorts of tricks and gimmicks to optimize performance.

Forgetting about all the legacy is of course a bold move which will make a lot of customers feel uncomfortable. So that’s probably not going to happen overnight. SAP will probably come up with an ABAP Runtime on top of the HANA Cloud Platform. Why else appoint Bjoern Goerke as head of the HANA Enterprise Cloud, and why else have they got their ABAP based solutions running on HEC with a Fiori front-end? Ultimately HANA Enterprise Cloud and the HANA Cloud platform will converge one way or another. It only makes sense.

Meanwhile though, I’m convinced that the bright brains at SAP are hard at work to create new business apps on top of the HANA Cloud Platform, completely omitting all the middle layers and using either the XS runtime or the NEO/Java Runtime. It might not look anything like the business suite we know it today. It might be more of an app store where you can buy certain business processes that are deployed on your cloud, and which you can freely extend and integrate.

A bit like the OnDemand solutions. Which are running on the Hana Cloud Platform already. Like SuccessFactors which can be extended via the HCP. Like many of the startup initiatives that will use the HCP…


Not only will this simplify your landscape. It will also solve many other issues. You can finally get rid of the SAPGUI, as all these applications will be browser-based. You’ll also have mobile abilities out of the box. (with the m.SAPUI5 library) You don’t have to worry about the physical network as much anymore. Just hook up your employees to the internet, provide them with the right credentials/certificates and go.

I believe that the (converged) HANA Cloud Platform will be the main focus for SAP in the years to come. Everything else might still evolve a bit, but will eventually become legacy. ABAP will probably also make the jump onto the HANA Cloud Platform as a runtime, but if I would have to advice a rookie on which career to take, I would tell him to focus on the XS runtime and the NEO runtime.

Now I know that this is just my belief and that there is no official statement from SAP on such strategy, but if you read the signs, it’s pretty clear we’re moving in that direction. I think I’ll hop on for the ride early to get a good seat.

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6 Comments

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  1. Matthias Steiner

    Love your view on things and especially:

    “I believe that the (converged) HANA Cloud Platform will be the main focus for SAP in the years to come … but if I would have to advice a rookie on which career to take, I would tell him to focus on the XS runtime and the NEO runtime.”

    Couldn’t agree more!

    BTW, would love to hear other people’s stories: Your own, personal… keynote

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    1. Tom Van Doorslaer Post author

      Thanks Matthias!

      My writing skills are a bit rusty after several months without blogging, but at least I managed to get the key message right.

      I believe that the HANA Cloud (in whichever form) will be the strategic future of SAP (and its eco-system)

      And if you still want to be of relevance in the SAP market 10 years from now, you’d better hop on that train. (which relates to a call to arms for developers by Graham Robinson as well)

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  2. Robin van het Hof

    I’m placing that same bet!

    (btw, for a moment I thought this blog would go about you betting your lifelihood on SAP HANA Cloud, but not so much 😉 )

    I too think the convergence between HEC and HCP will be logical focus; to me it’s the logical progression to SAP ERP & NetWeaver CE

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    1. Tom Van Doorslaer Post author

      hah, I don’t have to bet my livelihood. I always have a fallback plan into ABAP (at least for 10 more years)

      but if I have something to say about it, I’ll be going more and more into HANA Cloud

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  3. Chris Paine

    Hi Tom,

    Firstly, I have to agree with many of the things you say here 😀 ! I’ve spent the last year betting big on the HCP, and it is slowly starting to pay off, with some good interest about how it can be used, especially in the SuccessFactors extension scenario.

    However, I will disagree with some small point(s), but I think it’s important here to raise a distinction:

    You’ll also have mobile abilities out of the box. (with the m.SAPUI5 library) You don’t have to worry about the physical network as much anymore. Just hook up your employees to the internet, provide them with the right credentials/certificates and go

    .

    Firstly, HCP development in no way implies the use of SAPUI5. In a world where SAPUI5 is not open sourced and therefore not adopted by developers outside of the SAP space, you’d be (IMNSHO) mad to use it as it will send your support costs rocketing in an otherwise relatively open standards based development environment.

    Secondly, I think you belittle the effort required to make a secure HCP application 🙂 ! Certificate distribution to (mobile) devices is not trivial and exposing enterprise IdPs outside of the enterprise is also not a task for the faint-hearted. However, there are ways and means to address this, but I’d make sure that people don’t believe it’s as much of a dream solution as they might hope.

    My thoughts are that an ABAP runtime on the HCP is unlikely, even in the long run. I could well be wrong, but I don’t see where the value would be. There is no doubt a reason that HANA XS was built using a ECMAScript variant and not an ABAP variant. Whilst it may be improving hugely in 7.40 ABAP still isn’t the multi-threaded, elastic language that cloud computing would benefit from. HEC provides a space for ABAP to be run “in the cloud”  and I think that will be the end of its reach.

    All this said,(and that I think the onPrem cat looked much cooler)  HCP FTW!

    Cheers,

    Chris

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    1. Tom Van Doorslaer Post author

      Hi Chris,

      Fair points.

      obviously, this is only one part of the story (and I was too lazy/unfocused to paint all the details of the bigger picture). SAPUI5 must be open sourced, or at least released under a free license (but that’s a different blog).

      Mobility and security is a balancing act. Some days, I believe that security on mobiles is important, other days I believe we’re being holier than thou… I went to a work related event a few weeks ago, 7 laptops got stolen, 0 mobile phones… If they hack the laptop, a lot more information is available then on a mobile (especially if the mobile only consumes web-apps, to which you can block access).

      I understand however that you do not want to give non-employees a corporate ID to access the mobile apps. But I’m not talking about consumer mobility either. That should be on a separate platform, no discussion. I’m only talking about employee-mobility.

      Concerning the ABAP runtime… I don’t know… I’m not waiting for it, I don’t need it, but I can imagine that it will make the platform more attractive to all the grey-haired and no-haired developers who spent most of their career in ABAP. (I fall in the category of no-haired developers. Best category IMO, as it keeps the mind fresh)

      Also, why use the Java runtime if you can go straight into the XS Javascript runtime? 😉

      As for the cat: it’s normal that you like the on-prem cat more. We’re technical, we’re on the dark side, we have cookies… but your kids will like the fluffy white cat more 🙂

      HCP FTW!

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