The last SAP TechEd of 2017 has just finished in the beautiful Barcelona but the great amount of content will surely remain for a while. Even from an employee’s perspective, it’s amazing to see how such a big company can change and innovate so fast. As a part of the SAP Business One community, you may think that such moves have none (or little) impact on your life. For years we travelled our own path. However, things had changed since we started our SAP HANA journey. With the adoption of this entire platform to build applications, SAP Business One and its extensions (or add-ons, if you may) could share the same features and resources as its big brothers. Our silo era got its pros and cons, but its time to leave it in the past.
SAP is becoming more open and standardized
TechEd showed a that SAP continues its walk (with large steps) towards its modernization, openness and willing to adopt industry standards, leveraging what is already available and widely used, instead of building everything on its own. This openness hasn’t started now. SAP joined the Node.JS foundation in 2015 and for a long time contributes to many other open source projects.
A month ago, SAP joined the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. That means it will work together with more than 120 big players like Microsoft, AWS and Pivotal to make cloud-native technologies as accessible and reliable as possible. In the same direction, it is also a new member of the Open API Initiative. This consortium, backed by several companies, focus on the standardization of how REST API are described. Making it easier for every application to be connected. The digital world runs on APIs. SAP Business One Service Layer is aligned with this principle and we are just starting.
Cloud Foundry is the new Black
Cloud Foundry is the industry standard cloud application platform. It helps you focus on your app without worrying about the infrastructure that surrounds it. CF is available in the SAP Cloud Platform and it is also the base for the XS Advanced Runtime, the native App platform in the SAP HANA on-premise from version 2.0. That means that you can build your app once and run it anywhere that supports CF.
Cloud Foundry also has a framework to supports different run-times. The Buildpacks allow you to Bring Your Own Language (and Yes, the .Net core is there). In SAP HANA 2.0, currently NodeJS and Java are fully supported, that means both languages were extended to support native HANA functions with additional APIs. Python should be the next, but still, you can choose your tech.
On-premise or in the cloud your app will be very similar
Mea culpa aside, SAP Business One currently doesn’t support HANA 2.0. But that will come still you can have it for free with HANA Express Edition to try all the new features.
We already explained the benefits of having your solution decoupled from SAP Business One. Going beyond, this is the only way if we are aiming to scale and serve multiple companies. On the other hand, deployment cycles are reduced and the enhancement of your solution with new features is much agiler and simplified.
The Twelve-Factor Methodology helps you to understand how to create apps that scales and leaves behind all the struggle (which we know very well) of building and installing our solution for every user of all customers. Those principles are part of the SAP Cloud Platform and should be adopted by your team as well.
Focus on your core Business and stop reinventing the wheel
Let’s say you develop a manufacturing solution and wants to support IoT sensor for any reason. Would make more sense to develop all this integration from scratch, with tables, web-sockets and connectivity hassle or leave it to an IoT Service that only gives the relevant data to your solution?
Or if you want to have a mobile app. Would you ask someone to develop all the back-end that it requires or simply leverage some Mobile Services to handle that?
The same applies to Machine Learning, Data Prediction and etc. The next feature is an API away (yes, API’s again). And they could be from SAP, like the ones available in the API Hub or from any other provider. Use them, save time and focus on your real expertise.
UX is Queen and she’s lightweight
With the business logic pushed to the server (big change for us) and data being accessed with the use of APIs. Building UI’s is becoming a simple task for tools. We saw that with the Fiori Templates in the SAP Web IDE (available in the SAP Cloud Platform and on HANA 2.0) and much more with Build.me which really helps the application users to collaborate in the conception of the UI by providing feedbacks and other inputs.
The partnership with Apple lives on and it’s refreshed by the SAP Cloud Platform SDK for iOS 2.0. That means, the simplicity of iOS apps can be leveraged by our Fiori UI. Making it easier for your solution to go mobile.
Giving more power to the end users, the Build.me team showed the Build Apps. A tool that helps users to create their apps without the help of developers. I saw a 12 minutes demo where from an MS Excel Spreadsheet an “end user” was able to create the entire infrastructure to run a mobile app (including tables, schemas and REST web services)
If users are choosing how their app will look like, there will come a time where all we have to provide is an API with the data and let the UX for the one that will really experience it.
Knowledge is everywhere
Some people still with the mindset that all the enablement resources should be provided by SAP. That happens with some partners I know and even some of my colleagues. Of course, we provide content like the amazing Open.SAP and more recently the SAP Business One on HANA Development e-learning. But a huge advantage of all this openness is to rely on other resources. The internet is your friend!
Do not limit yourself.
Adapt or die