SAP HANA Cloud Platform – Setting the stage (Part 2)
Welcome back to this mini series about SAP HANA Cloud Platform (HCP). In part 1 we provided you with a high-level overview about PaaS in general and HCP in more detail. Based on this knowledge we can now dig deeper and see how some of the recent announcements fit into the bigger picture.
It is essential to understand SAP’s vision in regards to PaaS to fully grasp the relevance and the importance of the things we’ll discuss in this blog post. So, let’s have a brief look back at the early days before we fast forward to today (and beyond).
In the beginning of SAP’s PaaS journey there’s been the conscious decision to start from scratch and develop a cloud platform based on open standards and open source software. From a development perspective this approach looked promising and perfectly in-line with the typical benefits of using open-source: reduced development time, a stable and mature code base to build on and ultimately lower development costs. Interestingly these benefits are exactly those a cloud platform needs to provide in order to appeal to developers, which is why we decided to not only use this approach internally to develop the platform, but also to make it our guiding motto in regards to design decisions impacting how developers would interact with the platform (Please see: SAP NetWeaver Cloud & Open Source – A match made in heaven)
In simple terms this philosophy boils down to: only differentiate in areas where there is no prior art and where differentiation adds value! In all other areas it pays off to use open standards and open source as it lowers the entry barrier and leverages synergies. Ultimately, (cloud) platforms are all about adoption and the best way to push adoption is to make it plain & simple to get started.
The way we see it providing an open platform goes beyond technology and encompasses the whole lifecycle from familiarizing with the platform, getting all the required tooling, to education and staying up-to-date. In this regard, HCP truly is the prime example of a new philosophy at SAP as everything a developer needs to get started is freely available on the web.
Our central landing page (http://hcp.sap.com) provides tailor-fitted information for all stakeholders (customers, partners and developers) to learn about the platform and its capabilities. The developer section of this website features lots of tutorials explicitly covering the getting started experience. Additionally, the entire online documentation is publicly available on http://help.hana.ondemand.com. (Speaking of which, the best testimonial about the quality of the online documentation came from DemoJam runner-ups SAP Droids, a team of mid-school kids, that developed a mobile application connected to HCP. In a follow-up interview one of their team members claimed to have been “able to teach himself how to program on that platform largely based on the documentation SAP provided.” [REF])
Tools & SDKs
We understand that developers are reluctant to marketing and that ultimately they want to experience the platform first-hand to assess it. For that purpose, we provide all our tools and SDKs for download on a central page: http://tools.hana.ondemand.com/#cloud. To facilitate the consumption of HCP’s APIs for Java develoeprs we also provide the respective packages on Maven Central, which is a popular repository for Java artifacts. (For further information please refer to Building Java Web Applications with Maven.)
Please note that SAP offers free, perpetual developer accounts for SAP HANA Cloud Platform to provide developers with the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the platform first-hand. Signing up is as simple as 1-2-3 and does not take more than 5 minutes. Those interested please visit our respective developer page on:
For the purpose of learning more about the platform and how-to develop on top of it SAP provides free online education courses (Massive Open Online Courses) on open.sap.com. The courses we conducted so far have seen a great uptake (more than 70k people enrolled) from the community and the feedback has been very positive. The repetition of “Next steps with SAP HANA Cloud Platform” hosted by Rui Nogueira is still ongoing, but you can always access past courses online here: Introduction to SAP HANA Cloud Platform. Furthermore, there is a great selection of shorter HOW-TO videos available via the SAP HANA Academy on youtube: SAP HANA Cloud Platform – Java Development
For more information regarding the openSAP courses related to HCP please consult this article: openSAP course guide – Introduction to SAP HANA Cloud Platform.
Developers want source code and ready-to-run samples to get up to speed with a given technology. That’s why we provide plenty of them on our github page all shipping under an Apache v2 open-source license.
Last, but not least: communication. Let me start by pointing out our public release notes. Since day one we play it open by providing detailed information about our bi-weekly updates to the platform. Those who have been following HCP for a while can certainly testify that we have been walking the talk. The next resource to mention is the HCP Developer Center, the place where the community mingles and where we share news, blog posts and other information with our developer base. Last, but not least… many on the team are also active on Twitter and other social networks (e.g. Slideshare).
Cloud Foundry @HCP
Now that you know our stance on openness let’s discuss how some of the more recent announcements fit into the picture. In March this year SAP (among others) joined the Cloud Foundry Foundation as a platinum member. This step marks an important milestone in our engagement with Cloud Foundry, which dates back a few years already. As announced in a keynote session at the Cloud Foundry Summit, SAP will intensify its investment and partnership with Cloud Foundry, following up on some contributions that have already been made (e.g. the SAP HANA Service Broker for Cloud Foundry or the node.js Connector for SAP HANA.)
Given the support Cloud Foundry receives from all the members of the Cloud Foundry Foundation and the broader PaaS community it has the potential to become the “Linux of the Cloud“. The reasons for SAP to embrace (or even propose to CF as Richard Hirsch put it) are manifold, but they all share a common characteristic – openness:
- support for additional runtimes and programming models via so-called buildpacks
- low risk of lock-in for apps and services due to wide adoption of Cloud Foundry among PaaS providers
- gain more flexibility in deployment models for HCP (e.g. private cloud scenarios)
- last, but not least the opportunity to help shape an ecosystem that spans across the whole industry
The desired flexibility to leverage HCP in non-SAP data centers was also a main reason to strengthen our commitment to OpenStack as announced in July. The combination of Cloud Foundry and OpenStack promises both a low entry barrier and a reduced TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) for customers and partners intending to run HCP in various cloud environments.
SAP actively contributes to Cloud Foundry with an emphasis on features required to operate the respective technologies in an enterprise-scale cloud environment distributed across the globe. Other key areas besides operations are commercialization (commercial micro-services based on Hybris, marketplace integration, metering & billing services and API management) and user management (replication of users from central enterprise stores, enterprise-grade authentication and authorization, Single Sign-On and user mapping between CF users/roles and common identity providers.)
I’d like to wrap up this blog post by providing a brief outlook on other planned innovations. We already elaborated on some of them in the previous paragraphs, yet there are two topics we did not cover so far: support of additional databases (SAP ASE and SAP IQ) and the integration of Docker as an additional runtime container. For those who may not have heard of Docker yet, here’s a short description from its founder Solomon Hykes:
“Docker is an open platform for developers and sysadmins to build, ship, and run distributed applications. Consisting of Docker Engine, a portable, lightweight runtime and packaging tool, and Docker Hub, a cloud service for sharing applications and automating workflows, Docker enables apps to be quickly assembled from components and eliminates the friction between development, QA, and production environments. As a result, IT can ship faster and run the same app, unchanged, on laptops, data center VMs, and any cloud.” [REF]
In other words, think of Docker as a virtualization technology, which allows to define images including both the application plus arbitrary runtime dependencies. These images can be deployed into any cloud environment that support Docker. In comparison to other VM-based virtualization technologies, Docker is more lightweight as multiple Docker containers share the host OS and kernel while ensuring clean resource isolation and allocation. The obvious benefit is the flexibility this brings to HCP in regards to the components that can be deployed.
Product Roadmap Q&A (1hr)
Road Map Q&A: SAP HANA Cloud Platform
SAP HANA Cloud Platform combines the power of SAP HANA with the flexibility of the cloud to build net new industry and LoB solutions, and to extend existing SAP solutions. This session outlines currently available features, planned innovations, and the future direction of SAP HANA Cloud Platform.
Speakers: Thorsten Schneider
Tue, 12:00pm – 01:00 pm
We, 10:00am – 11:00am
As you can see there’s a lot of traction behind SAP HANA Cloud Platform and yet I barely scratched the surface with this two part blog series. Those attending SAP TechEd && d-code this year will definitely hear more during the event; all others – don’t worry we’ll make sure you capture all the relevant information in subsequent blog posts. Stay tuned…
PS: Short reminder – here’s a summary of all HCP-related sessions conducted at SAP TechEd && d-code: HANA Cloud Platform @TechEd – Not to be missed!
Note: The respective presentation can be found on Slideshare: SAP HANA Cloud Platform – Setting the stage