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Intro.

As usual, this post is a replacement for one of my long, rambling answers to someone’s discussion.  It started as a few lines of me berating the changing world we work in and grew a bit.

Hasan Sidra asked about integrating ARIS with SAP PO.  Its the first time I’ve heard this sort of integration mentioned for a few years now and it got me thinking about how fickle our industry can be, and how so much can change in such a short space of time.  I was spending almost 100% of my time working on BPM projects around the time of the SAP eSOA assault and expected great things in this area, especially after scratching the surface of what integration with ARIS tooling could offer.


My Story.

Some time ago, the great promise from SAP (as part of their eSOA revolution) was that ARIS, BPM, PI, ERP, etc. would all become an integrated landscape.  BPXers would use tools like ARIS (integrated with SolMan and therefore the rest of their SAP landscape) to model the real business processes in an organisation.  These high level models would update SolMan and add another layer on top of the configuration tracking and documentation creation already available.

These high level models would be built in the industry standard BPMN 2.0 format and would be interchangeable across multiple platforms (SAP, IBM, TibCo, etc.)  Business people, functional consultants & developers could all work from the same process, with a slightly different perspective depending on their use case.  Documentation and configuration, as well as standard processes, services and business objects could all be inter mingled with custom built objects in a more logical and process driven approach than we had ever seen before.

I was pretty excited.  Within Atos (where I was working at the time) myself and a colleague Gary Kilby were tasked with investigating this brave new world and understanding what we (as an SAP Partner consultancy) needed to understand, be familiar with and ultimately know inside out, to enable our customers to dive into the new SOA world (yes, I know SOA wasn’t actually new but this was actually eSOA, SAP’s version and so it must be new 😉 )  Gary knew the integration side of things with PI and I knew BPM – we were both senior development architects and thought this would be a nice sideline to our ongoing customer engagements.  A number of us in the SAP Practice attended a few of the SAP eSOA training sessions as we moved forward with our initiative.  I’ve just found this post by Gary from around that time.  The number of views versus number of answers tells a story…

Things Changed

I remember being at a TechEd when HANA was first publicly demo’d.  I noticed lots of people carrying iPhones and constantly meddling with them.  I couldn’t really walk around the show-floor without tripping over someones shiney new iPad.  Uh-oh.  There was a mobile revolution going on, meaning everyone at that TechEd could tweet all sorts of cool and interesting stuff about HANA – “You can get your dunning run down from 8 hours to 8 minutes #HANA #GameChanger #KittenJustDied” etc, etc.  Suddenly eSOA had faded to background noise.

I’m not saying SOA is the answer to everything, however I do believe there is room for some sort of architecture that allows for basic building blocks of componentised models, views & controllers which follow some sort of structure and enable business people, functional people and technical people to collaborate in the way ARIS & BPM could have.

Fortunately/Unfortunately, depending on your perspective, HANA and Mobile pushed SOA out of the SAP world.  We now have a bigger focus on a RESTful design approach to “services” and indeed, the wider industry seems to be currently obsessed with micro-services, which I’d argue is the beginning of the convergence of SOA and RESTful practices.

Room for Improvement?

I think SAP have got it so wrong in almost forgetting about BPM/PI/PO and the SOA revolution thanks to HANA and Mobile (I’ll not even mention Cloud in this article – oops!)  We have a landscape of SAP tools and platforms plus UI technology in the shape of UI5 that could deliver on the promise of proper BPM re-engineering, with superfast data crunching from HANA all served up via a mobile platform.  As usual though, the varying arms of SAP tech are apparently pulling in different directions and definitely not heading in the same direction.

I think it is a massive shame on a personal level.  I’m (naively?) hoping someone at SAP sees the opportunities being missed and that sometime in the near future we’ll see HANA, PO, RESTful practices and UI5 come together properly.  Maybe then we won’t even need ARIS?

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11 Comments

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  1. Holger Stumm

    Now this article is way cool:

    #GameChanger #KittenJustDied is up to the point. In Germany we say that “another pig was chased through the village”. While PI and SOA and everything else was my project companion for the last 10 years, I moved slowly to different new topic. Like Security – so another Android/Ipot whoosh Event #GameChanger #KittenJustDied. But as you mentioned, everything else is in the shadow of #HANA game_of_thrones . So we all have to live in the shadows from now on.

    But, of course, that does not mean that the technology is dead: SOA and PI especially with BPM/Orchestration is the backbone of all serious Enterprise Service projects and will stay like that – smartphone whoosh or not.

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  2. Gretchen Lindquist

    Gareth,

    Thanks for the reminder that there is always some new shiny technology toy to chase, which may or may not last, but in the meantime making last week’s new shiny toy so, well, last week. Is it any wonder that it seems that SAP’s customers are skeptical of the latest real real real time technology, #HANA  ? We have learned the lesson all too well from SAP: wait a while before you spend a lot of time and money investing in, and training your personnel, on a new technology if what you have today is doing the job, or you may find that you have thrown good money away.

    http://io9.com/25-obsolete-technologies-that-future-generations-will-n-1526922030

    Remembering Betamax,

    Gretchen

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  3. Sandip Agarwalla

    Gareth

    Thanks for bring up the discussion.

    I am one of the folks who are disappointed with the way BPM /BRMs have faded and lost their worth in the new world of SAP. BPM is such a fine tool, but never really got the attention it deserves. Only handful of my clients are interested to know more about BPM, rest all want to hear HANA, Mobility from Cloud 9

    Regards

    Sandip

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  4. Gareth Ryan Post author

    I’m glad its not just me then.  I am so frustrated that BPM hasn’t been given the investment and support I know it deserves.  It has the potential to work with all of the latest SAP technology as an enhancement and addition to their functionality but it feels like it has been forgotten.

    Cheers,

    G.

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  5. Christian Loos

    Hi Gareth, Sandip,


    BPM and SOA may have moved past the “hype” cycle, but that doesn’t mean they are “dead”.

    Quite the opposite. SAP BPM is now being widely adopted and used by customers (1,500+ productive customers) and many customers practice SOA principles like central service definition and governance.

    BPM has seen significant investments over the past years (as evident in the SP release notes), e.g. new inbox, OData services, improvements in monitoring, integration with PI…

    We will continue to invest based on customer feedback – see the product roadmap (next update will come soon).


    The “shiny new things” you mention are coming together with Process Orchestration/BPM, e.g. via Process Orchestration on HANA, SAPUI5 task UIs, BPM OData services, Gateway for Java,  REST adapter for PI (planned)…


    There will be sessions at d-code/TechEd this fall, e.g. building a mobile UI for BPM processes using SAPUI5 and OData services.


    Regarding ARIS/modeling, SAP now has PowerDesigner for process modeling and we are working on deeper integration (model linkage and synch) between PowerDesigner and BPM.


    Best Regards,

    Christian

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    1. Gareth Ryan Post author

      Hi Christian,

      Thanks for the informative feedback.  I actually think you help underline my point, that BPM can and will work with all of the new shiny things but it just isn’t shouted about enough (in my opinion.)  1500+ productive users doesn’t feel anywhere near as successful as I would hope for a product I see as being capable and of use to about 90% of the customers I’ve worked with over the years.

      Realistically too, I can’t help thinking the PO platform is too heavyweight for so many potential customers.  Whilst you and Holger Stumm can quite rightly state that it is the core for many serious enterprise service projects, I think many customers don’t actually want/need to go down the route of a serious enterprise service project – they want something lighter and easier to implement, maintain & enhance.  But they still want all of the power of BPM or full PO.

      SOA, it’s related architecture and governance requirements are just too much for many potential customers who could use PO across their business without that overhead.  Realistically, the product can support those lighter use-cases but SAP (and we as partners) don’t push it into this audience (enough?)  There is of course the normal challenge of licensing costs but I always leave that to someone else to discuss 🙂

      Let me be clear, I have said in the past and will continue to say that BPM is the best product/platform I have had the pleasure of working with in my 16+ years as an SAP consultant – I’m right behind it!  My frustration is how little I see general SAP customers considering it as a viable solution to their business challenges.  Yes, it is a fantastic, enterprise scale services backbone but it should also be considered for the smaller, more agile, “shiney new” projects too.

      Cheers,

      G.

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      1. Priya Ranjan

        You touched on some very good points, and you are not alone, the whole community feels a bit let down on SAP BPM roadmap.

        In the early years of 7.1 and 7.2, the technology was not production ready, and I saw two rollbacks from two customer(Fortune 100) ,because in their opinion SAP BPM could not scale.

        After that SAP took its eyes off from SAP BPM, and started to talk only HANA, it still does,

        even though SAP BPM platform 7.31 has improved enormously and is quite scalable, robust  and production ready, it’s not even talked about in the marketing circles or customer pitches. Probably i know the reason why but won’t go into it here.

        Recently last year saw one big( Fortune 100) customer go to IBM BPM instead of SAP BPM on SAP landscape, consolidating 300 different products including a very large SAP landscape. I don’t think SAP folks were even pitching there.

        The neglect has been quite bad I think.

        Software Ag, IBM and all are aggressively marketing their BPM products as an enhancement to core SAP, but SAP itself is pretty much absent on the scene. They are doing all these shiny little things, but I think they are no longer talked about anymore and that’s what makes me really sad eventhough I see the innovation happening in SAP BPM.

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      2. Floris Rispens

        Realistically too, I can’t help thinking the PO platform is too heavyweight for so many potential customers. “


        Agree, but it’s not that SAP is not doing anything withing (e)SOA anymore. They are also working hard on new initiatives for this, like Hana Cloud Integration, that’s not getting the attention it deserves. Indeed, these topics are pushed to the background by other hot topics like  HANA, Mobile, Fiori

        It also has everything to do with product adoption, and in the end that’s on the conto of (potential) customers. Better adopted products will always get the most attention…

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