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As announced at TechEd Las Vegas in October 2018, SAP Cloud Platform now includes fully-managed services which run in a serverless environment. You can use these services standalone, or in combination, to build responsive applications, which are equipped to react to business changes in real-time.  These services are designed to facilitate the development of microservices and help you build responsive (event-driven) applications and customer-specific extensions.

SAP’s newly announced services run in a serverless environment, meaning it is SAP as cloud provider (and not you) who is responsible for managing and dynamically scaling the resources required for your applications. Resource utilization is closely monitored and you pay only for the resources your applications use. Pay-per-use details are published with global availability of each service and do not apply to beta releases.

SAP Cloud Platform Backend service (beta) is one of the major building blocks of SAP’s new serverless ecosystem. Other building blocks that might be of interest to you include:

This blog gets you started

This blog provides a basic introduction to the new SAP Cloud Platform Backend service (beta) and explains the preliminary steps required to enable beta features in your subaccount, maintain entitlements, and create a service instance. Once everything is set up as outlined in this blog, you can follow the documentation and setup your first backend service.

SAP Cloud Platform Backend service (beta)

SAP Cloud Platform Backend service, SAP’s backend-as-a-service offering on SAP Cloud Platform (Cloud Foundry), enables developers to build OData/RESTful services with just the data model as input. At the end of the deployment process, SAP Cloud Platform Backend service provides a service or an application that takes care of all backing services like persistence, caching, and audit logging. The services are tenant-specific, secure, and cloud-ready out-of-the-box.

The developer makes use of existing modelling tools that enable them to build the models corresponding to the application in mind. The model information in the form of a CDS model or a Swagger Document can be uploaded using a provided administration tool. The model information is used to provision an OData V4/V2 service or a simple Open API service with the same schema.

When a model is uploaded by the user for exposing a service, corresponding artifacts are created in the Database as a Service (DBaaS) instance bound to the SAP Cloud Platform Backend service application. The operations on the exposed service results in the data getting stored/queried on the schemas generated during the upload of the models.

Administrators are provided with an Administration cockpit that serves as the single-entry point to work with the different capabilities offered by the SAP Cloud Platform Backend service application. Uploading files to create new service endpoints, activating/de-activating service endpoints and the dashboards for the services are available within the cockpit. The administrator cockpit and the services are protected by additional roles.

SAP Cloud Platform Backend service also allows publishing of events (e.g. Data created, modified, deleted). SAP Cloud Platform Enterprise Messaging is used for this activity and the publishing does not use any configurations but always raises events as a default behavior.

You can use SAP Cloud Platform Backend service to support numerous use cases including for example:

  • Simple Mobile/Web App: develop a simple mobile or Web app that benefits from the limited investment into the backend with a big return on that specific investment
  • POC: create a backend in almost no time to quickly test out a new business idea
  • One time app: create a backend for a web or mobile app that is used only once or a few times so that only a limited investment of time and resources is possible
  • Cache / Database: use SAP Cloud Platform Backend service to cache data in serverless scenarios in the SAP Cloud Platform

Using SAP Cloud Platform Backend service (beta) with other services

You can use SAP Cloud Platform Backend service (beta) standalone or standalone with other services of SAP Cloud Platform’s Serverless ecosystem  such as SAP Cloud Platform Enterprise Messaging and SAP Cloud Platform Functions (beta) to extend SAP applications.

Use SAP Cloud Platform Functions (beta) together with SAP Cloud Platform Backend service (beta) when you need to extend your fully-functional backend with additional features that require custom coding. Typically SAP Cloud Platform Functions act as the glue here between SAP Cloud Platform Backend services and additional Serverless or non-Serverless software components.

Use SAP Cloud Platform Enterprise Messaging together with SAP Cloud Platform Backend service (beta) to take advantage of the events exposed by SAP Cloud Platform Backend service (beta).

Getting started with SAP Cloud Platform Backend service (beta)

Ensure beta features are enabled for your subaccount

(Global) Administrators can enable beta features in your subaccount on SAP Cloud Platform, Cloud Foundry so you can view all available beta features, including SAP Cloud Platform Backend service. From within your subaccount, you won’t see beta features automatically, but an administrator can set this up for you.

To find out if beta features are enabled for your subaccount, choose the Information icon in your subaccount for more information. If beta features are currently disabled in your subaccount, contact your administrator.

 

To enable beta features in your subaccount, administrators can choose the Edit icon in the subaccount and select Enable beta features and choose Save.

Create a service instance for SAP Cloud Platform Backend service

After an administrator has enabled beta features for your subaccount and set up the entitlement for your subaccount, you can create a service instance for SAP Cloud Platform Backend service.

  1. Navigate to your dev subspace in your subaccount.
  2. Choose Subscriptions from the menu.
  3. Enter Backend in the search field to display the SAP Cloud Platform Backend service [BETA] At this state, the service will be shown as Not subscribed.
  4. Click on the SAP Cloud Platform Backend service tile and choose
  5. The service subscription happens and is displayed as below.
  6. Once subscription is done, refer the documentation on how to start managing APIs using SAP Cloud Platform Backend service. Please note that there are additional steps necessary that are described in the documentation. The documentation can be found following this link: SAP Cloud Platform Backend service

Summary

This blog provided you with a basic introduction to the new beta service and explained the initial setup. Start working with this beta release to get a feel for working with SAP Cloud Platform Backend service and provide us with feedback so the service can be improved before it becomes generally available in 2019. Please note that since it is a beta version, there is no maintenance guarantee. In case of errors, we request you delete and recreate the service instance.

This blog is the part of a series to explain how to start working with this new service, which is part of the SAP Cloud Platform serverless offering. We will be publishing further blogs to explain how to take advantage of the full functional scope as a standalone service and in conjunction with other services like SAP Cloud Platform Enterprise Messaging and SAP Cloud Platform Functions (beta).

A big thank you goes to Pradeep Panda (SAP) for his support in creating this blog. Please check out Pradeep’s excellent blog on SAP Cloud Platform Enterprise Messaging.

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7 Comments

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  1. Shai Sinai

    Hi,

    Do we need any special authorizations to access the service?

    While trying to open the SAP Cloud Platform Backend service application, I get error message: “You do not have sufficient authorization to access this page; contact your system administrator or see the help document“, but I’m afraid I’m not authorized to view the help document neither.

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    1. Karsten Strothmann Post author

      Hi Shai,

      there are additional steps necessary that are well described in the documentation (roles etc.). That’s why I’ve added the link here.

       

      What makes me wonder is that you say you cannot see the help document either – I will check on that.

      Best,

      Karsten

      (1) 
      1. Shai Sinai

        Thanks.

        I guess I’ve missed your link to the document.
        I had to assign roles Admin, AllAccess, as described in the document.

         

        If I understood correctly, the service doesn’t include any internal editor/tool for maintenance of models and these have to be created in external tool and uploaded manually.

        Is there any recommendation for creation of models?

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  2. Mike Doyle

    Hi Karsten, how does this relate to the SAP Cloud Platform Application Programming Model?  As I understand it (e.g. from Rui Nogueira) the CAP also allows the generation of a functioning service from a model (in that case CDS).  Is the difference that the CAP is generally available whereas this is just beta?  That the backend service has a different implementation (e.g. FaaS rather than CF Java or Node runtimes)?

    I would assume that the design-time tools could be unified though?

    I also note that the mobile service team have their own OData service generator.  Will Kyma perhaps add another option?

    Good to have options, but quite hard to make sense of all these different projects……

     

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    1. Kiran Venkataramanappa

      Hello Mike,

      The Backend service uses the CAP internally. While CAP provides you a PaaS offering to create full stack OData APIs via programming, the Backend service provides the same in a serverless environment in a no-code fashion. The 2 offerings are meant to serve the 2 different use cases(CAP- Professional developers with programmable extensions | Backend – Citizen developers in a ‘Model & Run’ manner).

      You are right. From a Design time standpoint, the tools are already unified in the sense that the Backend service doesn’t have tools of its own but leverages the existing tools of CAP (e.g. CDS modeler in WebIDE).

      We have to check more on the OData service generator from the mobile service team.

      Regards,

      Kiran

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