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 . 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.
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 by Gary from around that time. The number of views versus number of answers tells a story…
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?