Disclaimer: These are my own thoughts of what I imagine the SAP platform to look like in, say 10 years. It’s based on current changes, available technologies and the mentality of SAP decision makers as observed in the past. It’s all hypothetical and nothing more but speculation.
Still, I have been spot-on on previous speculations.
You may have read one of my previous blogs or comments, in which I explain why the Classic R/3 as you have come to know it, might be replaced by something new and shiny. SAP has created a great platform with SAP Hana, which will change the entire architecture of the future enterprise IT landscape.
Rather than having monolithic stand-alone systems, with Hana, you lay a sturdy, company-wide foundation on which you can plug your required functionality.
In the past, you bought a module, which contained tables, transactions, reports, customizing and the likes. That’s something I am not expecting to see happening with Hana. Yes sure, they’ve enabled the business suite on Hana, but in my opinion that’s just an intermediate step to get market penetration and please customers with faster systems.
In the meanwhile however, we’ve seen SAP come up with Fiori. Many people still consider Fiori as a suite of web-applications for the less tech-savvy employee. Just like many people still see Hana as a faster database. Needless to say that this is only the tip of the iceberg.
You see, Fiori represents a mentality change at SAP. They no longer think in terms of full blown applications and modules, but they now think more in terms of small bitesize apps. This is a consequence of the mobile Hype that raged through the IT world a few years back. Mobility is far from dead, but people have grown used to the idea of apps, and so has SAP. At the advent of this hype, many mobile applications were full blown multi-functional gargantuan applications. Almost like as if you’re working on a desktop or in the GUI, rather than on a mobile device. But pretty soon, driven by the consumer side “enterprise” apps became smaller, more nimble.
Fiori continues on that track. SAP is providing easy to install apps, that plug onto your backend. I think that this is the mentality that SAP wants to follow in the future for their entire suite.
Vishal lay the foundations for the future IT landscape, and now Bernd (who is rumoured to have an app-mentality) might build a massive amount of plug-n-play Fiori apps onto that platform.
The fact that so many cloud solutions of SAP already use browser based web-interfaces and all new cloud-solutions use SAPUI5 as a frontend, strengthens my suspicion that the future solutions of SAP will no longer use the SAPGUI, but will use the browser as a client.
This means a radical re-design of the business suite. R/4, if that’s how you want to call it, will be totally different from R/3, just like R/3 was from R/2. This is an idea that scares many. It would involve a migration of data (although I’m sure that SAP will have a migration tool), and there will be a re-build of custom code. Perhaps a lot of custom code can be thrown away. Much of what I see of custom code on a daily basis, is optimization, reports, alternative UI’s and extra fields.
Optimization will be less necessary on Hana, so can be discarded. Reports can be created in a very different way. Perhaps Lumira is the easiest answer? Alternative UI’s,… well, alternative to what? To Fiori? In a scenario where you create a Webdynpro to replace a SAPGUI transaction, I can understand the investment, but creating an alternative to Fiori? Why? Additional fields/functionality is the only relevant remaining case, and for that, you can build extensions on existing Fiori Apps, or simply create a new Fiori app altogether.
Still, there are those arguing that customers will not migrate unless there is a business need to it. Well, when support on the classic suite runs out, and extended maintenance will become just as pricy as those old mainframes, I think many companies will get the idea.