It’s Monday morning, you grab a coffee and head to your 10:00AM meeting for your weekly status meeting with the various business areas. As the head of IT applications, your job is to keep on top of the ever growing demands of the various departments. Today will be no different, the head of operations has asked that you create/buy/deploy an application for inspections of their heavy equipment and they need it fast.
After a review of what is currently available on the market for “inspection” type applications, it is determined that building a custom application will be the best route for this business requirement. Typically, a custom application of this type would require at a minimum:
1 – Persistence Layer
2 – Application Services Layer
3 – Presentation Layer
4 – Analytics/Reporting
Each of these various layers requires time to install/configure and procure which is making it hard to service the business in a timely fashion. Wouldn’t it be interesting if there was a complete Platform As A Service (PAAS) offering readily available that could be used to either extend your existing backend assets to accomplish this goal or build something new from scratch where all the tools were readily available and accessible via browser?
Well, as Director of Enterprise Architecture and Technology for SAP Canada, I have begun to educate myself with the services offered within Hana Cloud Platform so I can better service our customers across Canada and based on what I have seen so far, it’s a very comprehensive offering with many potential use cases. The following is not supposed to be a comprehensive diagram of all services available within HCP (I will save that for a future post) but I would say it’s a mental mapping for how I think the core set of tools will work within most environments.
Across the top, I have outlined both Native and Web Based Tools. This is important for customers because I have used eclipse in my past life as a go to development tool and this is fully supported but at the same time it’s extremely important for customers to know that SAP has been very active in developing a tool called WebIDE that can be used to build/extend/create UI5 applications or Fiori tiles. This WebIDE tool is used 100% within a web browser and comes with a set of pre-defined templates for complete application designs like Master/Detail.
Without a doubt, the most important part of this diagram is the Metadata layer. Several years ago, SAP embraced the OData standard with the introduction of SAP NetWeaver Gateway to oData enable core SAP processes/functions and has been building on top of that standard ever since. In the diagram, the Web Based Design tool WebIDE can consume oData at design time and the UI5 code generated by the WebIDE also consumes oData services at runtime. The takeaway from this….start learning oData and REST.
Within the platform itself there are many services but going back to our requirements outlined at the beginning, you will see Mobile Services, DB Services and Analytics within the Hana Cloud Platform box. With respect to our business requirement, we have been tasked to build an inspection application. For many SAP customers, Plant Maintenance is a core module within the SAP system. In this particular scenario, I would be investigating the possibility of extending plant maintenance with a custom front end to invoke the existing plant maintenance functions with oData services. Once these services have been exposed they can be consumed by the WebIDE tool to generate a fully responsive custom UI 5 application that is consuming and re-using core SAP business logic. Have you ever heard the term, sweat the asset…there are a lot of customers who fail to realize that NetWeaver Gateway is great way to take full advantage of their ERP asset. (Did I mention that UI5 is also the same toolset that SAP itself is using to build it’s applications and customers can use it to build their applications?)
However, the other possibility is that you cannot find a set of services that you deem to be a good fit ( unlikely but possible….remember there are millions of lines of code within your ERP asset just begging to be re-used ) for this purpose and you decide to use a custom persistence layer to store you data. In this case, this is also no problem. You can use the DB Services layer to create a custom schema within HCP based on the Hana database to store and manage your data. Of course, it doesn’t hurt our business case that HANA is one of the fastest databases in the world and also allows us to expose this schema as custom oData services so we can use the same WebIDE tools to consume these services at design time from within a browser.
Last but not least, one of the last requirements to fulfill is reporting. As some of you may not know yet, Hana can be used both as a standard OTLP engine but it can also be used directly as your reporting environment WITHOUT the need to extract/transact/aggregate…every 24hours for fear of bogging down the system/outdated data/lack of detailed insight…I will resist the urge to continue this rant. We can simply apply existing tools that may already be in use within the environment or we can take advantage of the Analytics Services within the platform to build what the users are looking for all on the same platform.
Well, I hope this gives you a little insight to what I consider one stop shopping for all of your typical IT application service requirements. The next time you think custom mobile application or custom web application….consider taking HCP for a test run, anyone can create a trial account…did I mention it’s all browser based.
Stay tuned for the next installment as I start peeling back the layers.
Director Enterprise Architecture, SAP Canada
p.s.I wonder if I could connect my Spark Core Proton Sensor to HCP and create a small sensor display using UI5?