Open Letter to SAP regarding HCI
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:-
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.