Years ago, the same question turned up for COBOL developers. People thought that as new technology came into play, COBOL would soon die and be deemed obsolete. COBOL has been around for 59 years now, and a lot of industries, banking most especially, still use COBOL to maintain their mainframe systems. And since COBOL developers are now a rare kind, COBOL programmers especially the very skilled ones, are compensated so much better than other new tech programmers.
So, what about ABAP? This has been a decade long discussion in forums and blogs that kept a lot of developers paranoid about their future. This is still a hot topic worth discussing and I would like to encourage readers especially developers, that just like any old language like COBOL, ABAP is here to stay, BUT… it is a YES, that does not come without any conditions.
SAP was born in 1972. Since then, a lot of companies have implemented SAP into their system using both standard and customized implementations. I was introduced into the world of ABAP in the year 2006. Back then, it was popular for companies to upgrade from R3 to ECC systems, and in every migration, ABAP is still the main language used to optimize these applications.
There a lot of SAP legacy systems around the world. With this, companies still heavily depend on ABAP code. ABAP is still the core language used to maintain these applications, even with the introduction of new technology like SAP HANA. There are countless customizations of SAP business processes in different industries, and with this, ABAP developers will still be in demand to work and maintain these kinds of systems.
Originally, this was not really the route SAP wanted for companies and their users. SAP still encourages businesses to use the standard modules that come with the package. However, customization is inevitable since each company still has its own unique set of business rules and processes that are different from other competitors. SAP applications will always need to have a way to adapt to these processes and one way to address this gap is through code customization.
Note however, that SAP is always trying to improve its ecosystem and one way they are trying to do this is the introduction of Custom Code Management. This tool encourages developers to have a central point of customization so as to improve coding standards and prevent chunks of custom code scattered all around the system. However, even with this new way to manage customization, ABAP is still the core framework used to extend, enhance, and modify SAP functions.
THE BIG BUT…
So yes, we will not easily do away with ABAP coding given the history of legacy systems. Code customization is also mostly needed for unique business processes to work within the SAP application. However, ABAP is no longer just a stand-alone technology and it now comes hand-in-hand with something else in SAP. I started my SAP career as an ABAP developer and as I was exposed to project after project, I was no longer doing just ABAP work. I eventually became a techno-functional consultant for SAP HR, which means I was doing both ABAP development and process designing for a particular module in SAP. Also, I was exposed to SAP PI (Process Integration), which is another technology that uses both Java and ABAP. Overall, even if ABAP will not become obsolete, the language is now mostly used together with something else in SAP. So, it is actually a good idea to acquire further skills in SAP to be able to use it alongside ABAP coding.
WE DO NOT NEED TO FEAR FOR OUR JOBS
SAP offers free courses in open.sap.com where you can start learning their new tech and innovations. It is encouraged we continue to upgrade our knowledge and skills instead of worrying about our future. Here are some suggested topics that are worth learning to enhance your career in ABAP and in SAP in general.
- Object-Oriented Programming in Java
- SAP Business byDesign (offered in different modules)
- SAP Cloud Platform
- SAP Fiori
- SAP HANA
- SAP Hybris
- SAP Leonardo
- SAP SuccessFactors
Courses for these topics are available in open.sap.com. Keep busy, stop procrastinating. J Happy Learning!