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Author's profile photo Wolfgang Weiss

DSAG Technologietage 2014: Best practices for Custom Development with ABAP and SAP HANA Platform

DSAG-Technologietage 2014, Stuttgart Feb-18 and Feb-19: For two days 1950 participants created one of the biggest technology events in Germany, Austria and Switzerland (thereby achieving an all-time high at DSAG). During this conference all questions concerning custom development using SAP HANA Platform and SAP NetWeaver played a central role (certainly not the only one, many other technology topics were covered as well). The following notes comprise my takeaways with respect to custom development and extensions of SAP solutions.

“Level completed? Embark on the journey to the new world of technology” – this theme was illustrated by

Andreas Giraud, DSAG board member for Tecchnology, in his opening keynote.  Andreas explained

how technology acts as a driver for business innovations.

In the SAP space, a survey on planned investments at DSAG members provides helpful

insight into the trends of 2014 (Mobile, User Experience, SAP HANA etc.).

Many customers and partners plan innovation projects with SAP HANA,

with special emphasis on hybrid solutions (cloud and on-premise).

Vishal Sikka (SAP board member heading Products and Innovations) presented

major priorities in a short video message. Based on the paradigms of Timeless Software,

Design Thinking and SAP HANA, he outlined the five growth opportunities of this year:

– SAP HANA, special attention is paid to simplicity, user and developer experience (collaboration, real-time source code analysis etc.)

– Cloud Services (creating the freedom to innovate)

– Core Apps (realtime apps, merging OLAP and OLTP, simplifying landscapes and applications, potential to remove 90% of tables) 

– Edge Apps (innovative apps and realtime business networks)

– Co-innovation (pursuing new frontiers, custom development plays an important role)

He summarized his findings by the observation, that trusted co-innovation is at the heart of this journey.

Bernd Leukert (Member of the Global Managing Board of SAP AG) provided an overview of

technology investment areas at SAP in his keynote. With SAP HANA Cloud Platform,

a new developer experience is offered to the community .Even more general,

SAP HANA as Innovation Platform enables a significant simplification of developemnt and operations.

In particular, he mentioned these tasks:

– Identify business processes, which provide competitive advantage

– Componentization: Focus on custom development

His keynote was completed by a compelling demo on developer experience.

After this series of keynotes, all participants were invited to one of 6 parallel breakout session.

I choose some lectures from track “Application Development, Portals and UI”.

Andreas Wesselmann (SAP) started with an overview session on “Application Development
with SAP HANA Platform”, where he identified new types of applications, e.g.,
in health (cancer diagnostics and treatment) or soccer (training analysis).
Certainly, optimization of existing custom development solutions also plays a
very important role. A major pillar of this optimization is given by the
paradigm of “code pushdown”, i.e., delegating data intensive calculations from
AS ABAP to SAP HANA. While BW on HANA served as a frontrunner, other scenarios
can be achieved by a co-deployment of AS ABAP and HANA. In addition, hybrid extensions
of existing on-premise solutions can be easily established with SAP HANA Cloud
Platform (HCP). HCP can also be used for on-demand extensions and net-new apps.
Fiori apps can be easily created via HCP.

Customers using SAP NetWeaver could get a concise overview of “SAP NetWeaver 7.4” in the
subsequent lecture given by Karl Kessler (SAP), who elaborated on Big Data as key
driver for this release. While the application server layer delegates major tasks
to HANA (code pushdown) and SAPUI5, still many application services remain
there. These principles were explained in detail using the reference scenario “Open
Item Analytics”. Karl also pointed out that SAPUI5 is contained in NW 7.4 out
of the box, while it still can be used as add-on for lower releases. OpenUI5 is
an ambitious invitation for developer community to contribute and participate
at innovation cycles.

Dirk Basenach (SAP) explained how to run “Application Development in Cloud”, where
he provided deep insights in to SAP HANA Cloud Platform (HCP), the Platform as
a Service offering (PaaS) from SAP. Starting from the observation that businesses
today show an increasing demand for efficient cost control, fast innovation
cycles and minimizing risk, Dirk pointed out that HCP as a public cloud fulfills
these requirements. SAP offers also dedicated packages for special purposes,
e.g., SuccessFactor extension package, hybrid extensions of on-premise solution,
and net-new apps (e.g., SAP Mobile Documents, SAP Precision Marketing, SAP
Service on Demand). HCP enables an accelerated development with open and
modular services, e.g. document service (CMIS), connectivity service (using
reverse proxy approach, http and RFC), identity service (SAML based SSO,
support of SAP and 3rd party identity providers). It is possible to use Java
and HANA native development on HCP. Several customer success stories (Accenture,
Danone, OPAL etc.) completed the big picture of this story.

Day 2 of DSAG Technologietage is always devoted to work groups (AK = Arbeitskreis),

this year with 22 parallel sessions (from  AK Application Integration” to “Virtualization and Cloud Computing”).

Here are my notes from the sessions I attended today:

AK Development, Jochen Kleimann (Mahle Behr), Jürgen Stolz (StolzIT), Peter Barker
(SAP) on „Best practices: Betriebsmittelverwaltung with Interactive Forms“: The
speakers explained how Mahle Behr established cross organization processes with
interactive offline forms. They achieved the goal to minimize training effort
for hundreds of suppliers globally. Main technologies are Floorplan Manager
(FPM), Sidepanel and SAP Interactive Forms by Adobe (IFbA, While they shared
best practices and major achievements, they also identified some gaps, e.g., regarding
integration of BW data in FPM. Finally, Peter outlined how IFbA will enable
Mobile Forms (HTML5) and Cloud Forms (ADS on HCP) starting in 2014.

AK Development, Tobias Kaufman (SAP) on “Native HANA Development”: Tobias demonstrated
how to build custom specific applications using the two-tier architecture of
SAP HANA XS and SAPUI5, including recommendations “When to use what (ABAP or
XS)”. He provided a detailed insight how to use server-side JavaScript,
Outbound Connectivity (e.g., http-request to other servers) and OData. Tobias
also explained that SQLScript should be used for heavyweight calculation logic
in the HANA DB, and that the benefits of Application Function Library can be
easily obtained in many cases (e.g., Predictive Analysis). He shared details
and best practices regarding data acess with XSJS, XSODATA and Core Data
Services. In addition, special attention wa paid on the River concept (single
language for data modeling, business logic and UI), best suitable for data
driven apps. He illustrated these observations at a reference scenario (SHINE  = SAP HANA Interactive Education).

AK Development, Jakob Mainka (Linde AG) on “Implementation of ABAP Test Cockpit (ATC)
at Linde AG”. These lecture offered helpful information how Linde is operating
a global business, where custom development plays an important role (e.g., 100,000
new lines of code created by 120 developer every month). Obviously, quality
assurance and compliance according to GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) is
mission critical in this environment. While Linde spent high effort and managed
tedious processes for code review in old systems (4.6, 6.0), they have chosen ATC
as an alternate approach for better quality and agility. With ATC, they have
less effort and costs. Jakob Mainka explained how quality assurance of external
development projects is managed (e.g., internal definition of check variants),
and how a proper configuration (release of transports, periodic jobs etc.)
can further simplify processes and increase quality.

AK Portal and Development: Daniel Rothmund (Geberit) on “Project ‘Mobile Invoices’
with SAPUI5”. The speaker explained how Gebereit uses Portal, Gateway and
multiple ERP systems in this ambitious project. While the straightforward use
cases were implemented quickly, additional requirements could also be mastered,
e.g., offline scenarios (based in Roundtrips to Gateway), or using a multi origin
function at write operation in OData batch mode (with BADI Destination
Finder). At Gebereit, they were also able to define and implement custom
specific controls. Productive start of this project was very successful, they
achieved a high level of acceptance, no classroom training was needed.

AK Virtualization and Cloud Computing, Jana Richter (SAP) on “Flexible ABAP Server”. Jana provided
very helpful explanations and demos for these aspects:

– Optimized ressource consumption, support of adaptive computing (e.g., dynamic parameter
values at server start and during operations, flexible license management)

– Ensure Business continuity, simplify maintenance (e.g., soft shutdown, Rolling Kernel
Switch with Scale In scenario and dynamic configuration)

– Extended monitoring and troubleshooting options (SM04, SM51, SM50 etc.)

Outlook (NW 7.4 SPS 08, reduced downtime (SUM), co-deployment ABAP and HANA)

Overall, I have seen an encouraging spirit at this conference. Custom Development is seen as a
major use case by almost all SAP customers. DSAG offered a great opportunity to
learn more how to optimize and modernize development processes, with many helpful
insights from customers, partners and SAP.

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      Author's profile photo Abdul Hakim
      Abdul Hakim

      Hi Wolfgang - Thanks for sharing this blog with the community. Very informative.. Can u please share more details on "Native HANA Development" When to use What (ABAP or XS) ??



      Author's profile photo Wolfgang Weiss
      Wolfgang Weiss
      Blog Post Author

      Sure, here is the slide, which was used by Tobias Kaufmann during his lecture:


      Author's profile photo Abdul Hakim
      Abdul Hakim

      Thanks for sharing the slide. Point#2 on guidance section states that HANA Native development should be used for new applications. My question is whether ABAP should not be used for developing new applications based on HANA? Is this not recommended by SAP?



      Author's profile photo Wolfgang Weiss
      Wolfgang Weiss
      Blog Post Author

      Here is a detailed version of guidance #2:

      - Consider HANA Native Development (XS) for net new apps first

      - If this approach is feasible, go ahead with XS development

      - If XS capabilities are not yet sufficient for your development project, please consider XS roadmap whether it will be supported within the timeline of your project

      - If this does not fit, please consider combination of ABAP and XS (similar to guidance #3)

      Hope, this helps J

      Author's profile photo Abdul Hakim
      Abdul Hakim

      Hi Wolfgang - Thanks for the much detailed explanation. Based on the detailed version of guidance #2 HANA Native development(XS) should be used as the first choice for developing applications based on HANA. My initial question is still unanswered " Whether ABAP should not be used as first choice for developing new applications based on HANA? Is this not recommended by SAP? Why SAP is saying that XS should be the first choice for developing HANA application. With this recommendation whether SAP is accepting that ABAP is not the right platform to build HANA native applications and XS is far more superior than ABAP? Also will SAP build all their new applications using XS and not ABAP??" Appreciate if you can clarify my questions in detail.



      Author's profile photo Wolfgang Weiss
      Wolfgang Weiss
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Hakim,

      Please let me answer your initial question by further clarification of the guidance on HANA XS and ABAP:

      1. In general, please use the technology which is most suitable for you and your developers.
      2. Both technologies are positioned in the HANA context and both are actually heavily used: ABAP with SAP Business Suite on HANA and custom development on top of SAP Business Suite on HANA, XS with native apps (e.g. analytics, healthcare, sports and new business scenarios).
      3. 3. SAP is committed to long-term investments in HANA XS and ABAP. As part of these investments, HANA XS and ABAP come close together (Core Data Services, ABAP Managed Database Procedures etc.), they enrich each other in a complementary way.
      Author's profile photo Abdul Hakim
      Abdul Hakim

      Hi Wolfgang - Thanks a lot for much detailed explanation. Glad to know that SAP is committed to long term investments in ABAP....

      HANA platform has inbuilt Application server (Two-tier architecture) which provides runtime environment for Serverside Javascript / SQL Script / River while ABAP / Java environment is typically based on 3-tier architecture(Requires additional application server layer if we want to use ABAP / Java for HANA)..Why can't ABAP/Java be brought within Application services component of HANA platform and provide similar 2 tier architecture set up where by providing multiple options(Serverside Javascript/River/ABAP/Java) to customers to build native applications on HANA? Whether SAP has any future plan to extend HANA Native development capabilities to ABAP / Java?