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Dear SAP,

I was not at the recent Sapphire conference in Orlando, but thanks to social media and SCN, I have been able to get some updates from the event. It was great to hear Daniel Graversen reporting from Sapphire that integration remains a key to SAP’s push to the cloud. This was again emphasized by Sindhu Gangadharan in her recent blog, Integration on the run.

I have been mulling over some of the key messages mentioned in Sindhu’s blog and hence the reason for this open letter.

As someone who plies his trade in SAP’s integration space, SAP’s direction has an impact on me, if not in the short term, then definitely in the foreseeable future (well, unless I call it a day, and open up my own non-SAP related business!).

After 10 years of working on XI/PI/PO/PRO, it was a breath of fresh air to be able to bring HCI “out on a test drive” when I got access to a trial tenant. The use of graphical-based Integration Flows to design integration scenarios is so intuitive compared to the early days of XI/PI. I applaud SAP’s commitment to open standards by using Apache Camel as the message processing model in HCI, as well as providing HCI development tools on the open Eclipse development environment.

It is exciting to see the benefit of using Camel’s open model as illustrated in Nic Botha‘s series of HCI related blogs. With access to reusable components publicly available in the non-SAP world, I can envision it reducing the time-to-market for custom adapters/solutions that are not yet available from SAP. Additionally, the availability of prepackaged integration content for a variety of integration scenarios will help to reduce “reinventing the wheel” that is quite prevalent in software development these days.

However, as much as I want to say that I love HCI, I still have some reservations. I have mentioned some of it in my blog about my experience with HCI. Additionally, per my comment on Sindhu’s blog, if HCI is the default integration technology for all of SAP’s solution, I would struggle to implement some integration requirements that I am able to achieve on PI/PRO today. And it is not just me, taking a stroll down the discussion forums, you would find others struggling too:-

HCI: big problems in small scenarios

HCI Custom functions using Groovy Script | SCN

As with any new or yet-to-mature product/service, it is a chicken & egg scenario – customers might not opt for HCI due to the lack (whether real or perceived) of HCI skills in the market, and the lack of installed base means there are not many opportunities for developers to get implementation experience. I have had contacts asking my opinion if they should invest their (hard-earned) money to attend HCI training in anticipation of market demand for HCI skills.

In my humble opinion, the success of SAP is intricately linked to the success of the army of SAP-skilled (internal, customer-based, partner-based or independent) professionals. Again, I applaud SAP for providing free access to trial HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) system that does not expire, and can be easily registered by anyone with an S or P-user account. This is a fantastic avenue for developers to hone their skills on HCP-related developments. However, although HCI also provides a free trial access, it is only provided upon request and expires after 30 days.

This is an area where I believe SAP can do more. By providing free trial access to HCI that does not expire and easily registered (similar to HCP), SAP can enable the multitude of seasoned PI/PRO developers to transition to its default integration technology. This removes the entry barrier for developers seeking to attain HCI skills. At the same time, such trial program will provide SAP with numerous feedback (similar to a Beta testing program) regarding the service’s features and functionalities, which is crucial to the improvement of the service. Lastly, customers will be more willing to embrace HCI as their integration platform with the availability of HCI skills in the market.

In my book, this is a win for SAP, a win for its customers and a win for its consultants/developers.

These are my two cents in an effort to keep SAP relevant.

Yours truly,

Eng Swee

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26 Comments

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  1. Sanjeev Shekhar Singh

    Thanks Eng Swee Yeoh. I completely agree with your thoughts here. There is nothing more I can say that has not already been elaborated in your post, but just wanted to lend my support to your thoughts here.

    I had learned the SAP BPM on an AWS instance (hosting the PO trial system) and would be more than happy to try out the HCI trial system on my own expense. I have sent an email to the email address mentioned here, not sure if it is still possible to get access yet.

    But considering that not all current running SAP projects have HCI as primary integration tool and lack of developer systems for consultants like us, makes it difficult for us to gain the knowledge to be market ready for the upcoming projects. And in my opinion, attending a classroom training and expecting to have covered enough scenarios/functionalities to be able to use the system effectively is not a very realistic expectation. In that respect, I would think trial systems could be a great value-add for developers.

    Regards,

    Sanjeev

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  2. Jitendra Kansal

    Thanks Eng for the write-up.

    Fully agree with you on making available of  an HCI perpetual trial. (HCI has been re-branded to HCP-Integration service).

    I remember, when i asked to extend my 30 days HCI trial, i was told that my company is already a partner of HCI offering and i should ask my company directly. Well, working in a big organization it is very difficult to find out who has ownership of that part and on what basis they can provide me access to HCI. I am still waiting to know (internally), don’t think it will be done soon.

    I may be part of a workshop on June 21st at Walldorf, i will forward your message to product team (Udo) as well.

    I did wish to have an openSAP course on HCI few months, seems same has been announced  Application Integration Made Simple with SAP HANA Cloud Integration , hope we will get some sort of trial landscape to do our hands dirty.


    Regards,

    JK

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    1. Joe Ledesma

      Regarding the openSAP course and:

      > hope we will get some sort of trial landscape to do our hands dirty.

      Currently the course details say:

      Development Systems

      This course does not require access to a development system.

      (This is in contrast to for example other courses such as the past Text Analytics course which provided what were called Training Systems.)

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  3. Jose Nunes

    Hello Eng,

    You nailed it. I totally agree with you. A trial system that do not expire after 30 days would be great for everyone – developers, customers and SAP.

    Nowadays we are far better in terms of trial access for integration tools in comparison with what we had in the BC, XI and PI times, where there was no trial at all.

    About two or three years ago I had the great opportunity to use the PO trial on AWS to create some PoC for a customer and it worked like a charm, hassle-free. The only downside was that after a while, the AWS image was outdated, and I couldn’t try out the new REST adapter on it.

    As pointed out by Jitendra Kansal, maybe the HCI(HCP IS) trial policy will change now that we have an OpenSAP course on the subject.

    PS: Old habits die hard, SAP still renames their products…

    Regards,

    JN

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  4. Daniel Graversen

    Hi Eng,

    Thanks for a good write up.

    I dont care if a trail system expired after 30 days. I can live with it, but last year it was pretty deficult to get and not all developers could get a system. I oped to become an SAP partner to get Access to HCI to learn the platform.

    There seems to come an Open SAP course with HCI training. It will make it easier to get developers trained.

    Application Integration Made Simple with SAP HANA Cloud Integration* – Dr. Volker Stiehl and Sindhu Gangadharan

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  5. Jelena Perfiljeva

    Great point and I fully agree. No one will invest in the products if there are no people to support them.

    Another example comes to mind: SAP Lumira used to have a free desktop edition. I really wanted to show it to our business users last year but it didn’t happen (due to circumstances we couldn’t foresee or control). And now the free edition is no longer available, the best we can get is 30 day trial. Well, it’s nice but the thing is – our Financial users have any spare time only for 1-2 weeks out of the month. All other time they are closing something or doing some reports/audit. So it would’ve been much nicer if the trial was based on the usage days, or had some “pause” option or was at least 60-90 days. Not sure I can get the business folks excited enough if it’s something they’ll get to play with only for a week or so (in reality).

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  6. Eng Swee Yeoh Post author

    Thanks all for lending your voices to support this. It’s good to know of others who share the same sentiments.

    Unfortunately, the description and agenda of the openSAP HCI course seems more like an overview rather than a hands-on training course. Sigh, why can’t SAP just “run simple” and be more consistent like their other next generation products which has extensive openSAP courses and perpetual trials.

    As Jelena so aptly pointed out “No one will invest in the products if there are no people to support them” – it’ll be such a shame if it comes to that for such an IMHO promising product.

    Jitendra, thanks for offering to forward the message on your next trip to Walldorf. Let us know if you do get any response back from the product team.

    Jose, looks like us integration consultants are doomed privileged to still have the longest titles amongst SAP consultants! 😛

    Daniel, lucky you! 😉 Unfortunately, not everyone has the means or ability to just be an SAP partner 🙁

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  7. Bhavesh Kantilal

    Hello Eng Swee,

    As the Mentor for the Integration Community, you have started off with a Bang 🙂 Thanks for taking this topic up. ( From a SAP Mentor Alumnus )

    I hope SAP hears this call from the Integration Community for a extended free trial account. I am among the lucky few one’s who has access to a SAP Partner Edge Account which means I get a HCI account but like you / others mentioned, this is a a exception than the norm..If I hadn’t had this access the frustration would have been sky high considering HCI seems to be the future for SAP Integrations. I am sure PI / PO would have HCI runtimes as a default in later versions with customers then leveraging both runtimes on premise!

    To add to this discussion, a comparison across other iPaaS vendors in competition to HCI ( Is not going to make me popular but this is what customers also cite when we try to sell them HCI , so nothing new in my opinion )

    • Mulesoft’s Anypoint studio ( Eclipse based Developer Client )  has a built in Mule Engine which means any one can locally build a Integration Flow on their Developer Studio and test the same. No deployment server required on the Cloud.
    • Mulesoft provides a free 30 days access to their Cloud Hub. Basically – Mulesoft provides access to both a Cloud iPaaS 30 Days Trial and a on-premise local runtime. Post the 30 days, use another email ID and sign up once more if you want to test their Cloud ESB but I havent had the need to beyond the initial test of how to deploy local content to the Cloud.
    • Mulesoft also provides among the best online “Free” Trainings, that runs for 8 weeks. This is extremely hands on where the Trainer builds the content on the fly. No pre written code, just everything on the fly and you build along. And hey after they 8 weeks, you get a free Certification Voucher and the exam is trust me is very challenging which means if you didn’t do the course honestly, you are not going to clear it. Something similar to the Open SAP course but lets say more detailed and more thorough technical training.
    • Dell Boomi also provides a free 30 days trial and the signing up for the same just means using a different email ID every time you trial expires. No sending emails and waiting eternally.. Havent tried this solution yet but will do so soon.

    Considering these iPaaS Platforms are market leaders as per the Gartner Magic Quadrant, I do hope SAP enables its Integration Consultants with a free access to HCI that enables them to learn, collaborate and build content.This could turn out to be a win win as,then the community could collaborate and build,

    • Standard Integration Content – SAP already knows what the gaps are, if they pass the problem statement to the community, they would have a solution that is built collaboratively and used across customer landscapes and at free of cost to SAP apart from probably licensing it , certifying it and then enabling customers to use it / support it.
    • Build Connectors – I am not a “Adapters Guy” but your blog series for PI / PO and also Nic’s on Adapter Development on HCI has meant that this could be something Integration Developers could tread upon. The  briging of gap between HCI and other iPaaS Vendors that provide over 200 connectors could again become a community program..

    If Providing a Cloud Access to HCI is difficult for SAP, maybe a local HCI runtime in Eclipse ( the same way as Mulesoft provides it in their Anypoint Studio ) could mean that there is no deployment server required and content could be developed and tested locally within Eclipse..

    All said, I sincerely hope, this blog helps the SAP integration team push the case internally for opening up the HCI trial program even more easily ( I am sure they would like to but like any big organization’s they have their limitations )..

    Once more thanks for writing this blog!

    Regards,

    Bhavesh

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    1. Hailong Ji

      Mulesoft is really getting hot (I have been working on it for last half a year, thanks to no people supporting HCI…), the development experience is quite intuitive and fluent, and the most powerful setting is no need for deployment server, the flows are ready to go anytime with its local built in runtime engine.

      Another advantage Mulesoft gains is lots of connectors, from salesforce to twitter, developers can find nearly all kinds of connector for any prevalent applications – just making the integration simple! Although there are still some bugs for these “powerful” connectors, I want to say the fix and updates are very swift, which is nearly impossible for large company like SAP…

      SAP HCI really needs to take some action, and a easier access to HCI is a good start I believe.

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    2. Eng Swee Yeoh Post author

      Hi Bhavesh, Hailong,

      Thanks for chipping in on this. I haven’t had any experience on the other IPaaS platforms myself, so you sharing your experience here is very valuable and provides more perspective into this topic.

      The local runtime concept sounds brilliant and might be a good option short of providing everyone free perpetual tenants. I dare guess that this is not too difficult to achieve technically as the HCI runtime is already available for on-premise PO 7.5 systems, and it’s just Apache Camel after all.

      Really hope all these can be catalysts for positive change in SAP, as the hard truth is that they are not the market leaders in the IPaaS market and therefore need to play catch up with the others.

      Regards

      Eng Swee

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    3. Muni M

      Getting Dell boomi access is pretty easy. it takes only 10 mins to register and get started.

      I have been trying for almost two months to get HCI trial access. No luck yet.

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      1. Jelena Perfiljeva

        This whole process with waiting for an email for weeks to get a trial/demo access just needs to stop. Seriously.

        Cloud for Analytics – the same thing. Sign up and wait for an email. For how long? Who knows. Of course, by the time the registration arrived I already got busy with something else. And now I’m getting friendly spam from an “expert” asking how I’m doing with the demo. Well, you took your sweet time and I moved on, sorry. It’s not you, it’s me (no, wait, it is you).

        If I’m interested in something, I’d like to try it right then and there. Waiting is sooo last century.

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    4. Eng Swee Yeoh Post author

      I just found some time to look into Mulesoft and completed the 17 minutes intro video tutorial… and I must say I’m really impressed!!!

      The Eclipse based development environment is really intuitive – the flow development is appealing from both an aesthetic as well as functional point of view. And the feature rich functionality, WOW, it even beats PI/PRO hands down. The features seems like an integration developer’s dream come true – but it only goes to show the lack of exposure I have to the integration world outside of the SAP ecosystem *sigh*

      I’ll try to get on their next free 8 weeks course to have a better low-down on the solution.

      Sindhu Gangadharan, Udo Paltzer, I really suggest SAP’s product team have a look at what the competitor is offering, if you haven’t already done so.

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  8. Tiago Aust

    Eng,

    I agree with you on all points.

    But, I think SAP academy/e-learning is better $$$$ than the easy access(environment test etc).

    I hope in future this kind of model change.

    regards,

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    1. Eng Swee Yeoh Post author

      Hi Tiago

      By virtue of lagging behind the market leaders in this space, IMHO SAP do not have the luxury of trying to maintain (whatever minimal) revenue they get from their Education arm at the expense of low adoptions rates from customers/developers for their default integration technology.

      That is a “penny wise, pound foolish” mentality. However, although I have no insider information on it, I truly do not believe that would be the case here.

      For whatever unknown reasons, there just seems to be an inconsistency across their product lines where on one hand HCP is so freely and easily available, but on the other hand HCI (HCP IS), Cloud for Analytics, Lumira, etc are not.

      All we ask for are consistency and an avenue to hone our skills to build amazing solutions for SAP’s customers. Trevor Naidoo sums it up excellently in his comment on LinkedIn regarding this post:-

      “You want buy-in & loyalty around a brand or product, you open up the learning avenues. … Free up the learning and build an evangelist ecosystem”.

      Regards

      Eng Swee

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      1. Jelena Perfiljeva

        @Eng – I think you’re onto something. HCP clearly has an active group of “evangelists” (including current and past Mentors), so maybe that’s what’s missing here?

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  9. Rajesh pasupula

    Hope SAP Comes with the local deployment engine for HCI to ease out the system access issue for the developers to explore the HCI World similar to the other Cloud Integration tools.

    @Eng Swee – I appreciate your time on this blog for raising the eyebrows for the access issue to the SAP. Hope to see the resolution for this soon.

    Keep blogging on behalf of the Integration community.

    Regards

    Rajesh

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  10. Sebastian Simon

    Hi Eng,

    Excellent & valid points. Totally agree

    For SAP HCI to really thrive on the developer side access needs to be lots more easy.

    I also agree on the points of Bhavesh on Mulesoft and other integration software vendors (even vendors like IBM/TIBCO have 90 or more days trial versions publicly available by now), why not?

    I would also appreciate the concept of a local integration engine, it’s a complete productivity boost for an integration developer.

    Cheers

              Sebastian

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  11. Sindhu Gangadharan

    Hi Eng,

    Thanks for your feedback and thanks for continuing to support SAP and our core integration strategy both on-premise and on the cloud. You are right that today HCI only offers a 30 day trial. After this period we request customers to get a new trial instance or even better the developer license of the product. However we will take your feedback and see if we can also offer HCI and the other services of the platform like we do with HCP access for an unlimited period of time.

    Eng hope you also heard about the open SAP course coming up on HCI. If not you can find some more details here

    http://open.sap.com/courses/hci1?tracking_id=1HemLLFcWAhex7eQ3HUSp3&tracking_type=news&tracking_user=0tN4bG0v98e5xdNWKI6…

    Let me know if you have any additional questions,

    Best Regards,

    Sindhu.

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    1. Eng Swee Yeoh Post author

      Hi Sindhu

      Thank you for your reply, as well as SAP’s willingness to consider extending the time limit of the trial access.

      Per the comments of the other community members here, the idea of a local runtime/integration engine seems to be a very favorable option. I’m sure this would go a long way in helping to build a thriving developer community for HCI/HCPIS. Hope that this is another item that the product team will seriously consider as well.

      Yes, I’ve enrolled on the upcoming HCI course on openSAP – looking forward to what that has in store for the community.

      Best regards,

      Eng Swee

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    2. Apu Das

      Hi Sindhu,

      Thanks for your reply. It will be really nice if we get an unlimited period access to do more hands on.

      But now – a – days its very difficult to get the 30 days trial period as well. I have mailed twice with my S-User ID to get free tenant access for 30 days but unfortunately there is no response.

      Thanks,

      Apu

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  12. Midhun VP

    Good one Eng Swee Yeoh

    Thanks for your feedback. The customer base of HCI is growing so fast, and there is a huge demand for such a strong solution in the market that could seamlessly integrate multiple different applications on cloud and on premise.

    ODP in HCI would another key feature that could be used for Fiori and HCPMS apps.

    Regards,

    Midhun VP

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  13. Amit Khatwani

    Hi ,

    Can you give me a reference link from where can I get the trial access to SAP CPI (HCI) ?

    I clicked on Try it For free at the below URL : https://cloudplatform.sap.com/capabilities/integration/cloud-integration.html#

    But I only got the access to SAP CP cockpit and Integration Service details are not sent to me nor it is enabled.

    Please help !

    Thanks and Regards,

    Amit Khatwani

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