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Author's profile photo Phil Cooley

SAP’s Openness is Truly Inspiring

I wrote this piece as I am inspired by the recent announcements around the inclusion of ABAP in SAP Cloud Platform. I specifically read this blog -> as well as the announcements out of SAP TechEd 2018 so thought I would write my thoughts on the topic.

Those that know me know that I am a self-confessed Fiori lover and love everything about SAP Cloud Platform. I also believe that including ABAP into SAP Cloud Platform is sheer genius and I have commented on blogs from time to time that I believe this is a great move. Sure, the full extent of this is unknown and being worked through but I believe it is fantastic. The investment most organisations have in ABAP meant that this was absolutely necessary BUT the additional carrot is that transitioning or upskilling the ABAP Developer workforce now should be a lot simpler and the opportunities presented are massive. Those ABAP developers in most organisations have heaps of business knowledge and bringing that across into the cloud will bring about endless opportunities.

Not only do they continue doing what they are doing but they get across into Cloud as well as other technologies and get access to develop in other languages if they choose to. Basically, it is a much smoother transition.

This is also a fantastic way for organisations to slowly move to adopting cloud technologies with ABAP now included in SAPCP the disruption to an organisations resource pool is minimal which is really great!

I must admit I am absolutely amazed by the transformation that has occurred over the years with the offerings of SAP. If you were to apply Predictive Analytics to this, you would have been way off the mark. To think that back 20 years ago ABAP was the only offering and I know when Shai Agassi talked about including Java in the SAP world there was uproar. Well, I’m not 100% sure there was uproar and not exactly sure it was Shai Agassi’s idea to bring Java to SAP but at the time it seemed like it was to those on SAP projects at the time. It would definitely have been great to be a fly on the wall within SAP at the time but what I can say is that quite clearly this is probably the most influential single decision that has landed SAP where they are now. Totally embracing open technologies – at the time no one would have thought it was possible. The transformation between then and now should be lauded, big time! This is truly inspiring and shows great leadership within SAP themselves.

I first got across Java components when I was part of project teams implementing SAP CRM. At the time this had the Internet Pricing Configurator (IPC) which was built on a Java stack. This meant that all of the pricing routines assigned to pricing procedure elements in the ABAP backend had to be recoded in the IPC using Java. I must admit at the time there were grumblings from the ABAP developers about why Java programmers were suddenly getting involved in SAP projects. Up until then of course SAP had the proprietary ABAP language operating and it was definitely not an Open environment. At the time I remember customers heavily criticising SAP for this because it did not allow any movement or anything to be developed outside of this language. My initial thought (on the inclusion of Java) was that it made the environment seriously more complex – the maintenance and support of both ABAP and Java programs I thought would be cumbersome. In the end though, java routines were created and pricing was calculated successfully so both lived together – not sure in harmony but they operated well as a team with all things being said.

If I think back at that time, the project teams were also not that diverse in skillsets. That is, you had an army of ABAP developers and a handful of functional consultants and that was it. Now while we managed to successfully go live and deliver seriously good technology to businesses I cannot help but cast a reviewing eye over it (with today’s lens) to see what could have been developed if SAP themselves were more open. Additionally, the result if the project teams were more diverse in skillsets. Could digital transformation have happened any quicker? Hmmm, not sure but an interesting thought. Not sure we as consumers would have been ready anyway… ?

Fast forward 20 years and in the SAP World it is now common place to have ABAP and Java developers working side by side and I have to say it is brilliant! Not only that, add Python, React, React Native, SAPUI5, Angular JS developers to the mix as well. Not only that, you have iOS developers in the mix to create truly wonderful applications that do truly amazing things. This is seriously a long way from the ABAP proprietary environment we all worked with 20 years ago.

From a project implementation point of view, the teams now are definitely more diverse than those in the past and there is no doubt that this allows for the delivering of superior technologies and advancements like we have not seen before.

I’ve attended conferences where it has been stated that digital transformation will occur at such a rapid rate in the future that most of us won’t even be able to keep track and seeing all of these diverse skillsets working together, it is no wonder there is all of this cool sh@$ going on – with SAP Leonardo offerings such as Machine Learning and IOT as well as Augmented Reality – seriously amazing stuff. It is the diversity of the skillsets that make this happen.

In recent times I have reflected on the project teams I have been involved in and I must say there is no better time than now and I think SAP and ourselves are just getting started on where this can take us. ABAP on SAP Cloud Platform is the massive first step and I will be watching with real excitement. With all of this openness I do enjoy the fact that all kinds of people – whether that be developers, functional consultants, UX designers, business analysts, project leads can all talk about SAP Cloud Platform functionalities, challenges we face, possible design decisions, layout of application views, etc. Similarly, it is also amazing that we can now have SAPUI5 developers, Java developers, Node.js developers (+ others of course) together with ABAP Developers talking on the same level and talking about how to build applications in SAP Cloud Platform. Who would have thought! The opportunities are endless!

I believe a massive enabler in all of this (especially in recent times) has been the openSAP courses – or the Massive Open Online Courses (MooC’s). This has gone along way in embracing the new and emerging technologies and cannot wait to see a course about ABAP on SAPCP – I will be the first one to sign up!

If you have not checked this out as yet – check out the SAP Cloud Platform ABAP pages here ->

This is so great to be part of! Thanks SAP!

Thanks for your embracing of Open technologies over the years – it is truly inspiring!

Feel free to leave your comments below, would be great to hear your views on this one!


As always, thanks for reading!

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      Author's profile photo Nabheet Madan
      Nabheet Madan

      Wow Phil Cooley great thoughts. It looks like you me have the same kind of interaction with the Java world. I remember we got trained in SAP IPM(Intellectual property management) module and this was based on CRM web UI and was using Java formula for pricing. Trust me at that time being from ABAP backrgound felt so much iritated why can't it be done in ABAP, why Java now.

      Those were the times when i only understood ABAP and i mean it, JS/PHP/API/REST etc. were all bouncers to me. I think i was so much obsessed with ABAP, I believe same is the case with most of us, Once an ABAPer always an ABAPer type syndrome:).

      Fast forward to the present, look at where we have reached. Seriously the growth is exponential, i don't know how many companies have actually been able to do this. The SAPTechEd keynotes talks about API's, serverless, ABAP inCloud, ML, HANA and what not. The speed at which we are innovating is amazing. These are one of the best times in which we are living in, a transition towards an Intelligent enterprise. Good thing is by moving ABAP on cloud, SAP is making sure that it is taking care of it's millions unsung heroes #ABAPisnotDead and in return benefiting also from the business knowledge they posses.

      As per me being open to any technology and taking care of its existing technology in parallel, their is no better transition then this.

      Cheers to ABAP, Openess and SAP:)

      Author's profile photo Chris Paine
      Chris Paine

      Hi Phil,

      ABAP on SAPCP (not SCP, it isn't running on secure copy) isn't genius. It's a necessary step to educate and transform the existing SAP user base onto cloud based technology. If SAP can't figure out how to get itself off-premise and into cloud in next 5 or so years it might as well give up its sales to cloud based ERP vendors who can.

      As far as the Cloud ABAP environment goes as a means to migrate/educate existing customers to new ways of working, I believe it already has some challenges, but that's a different post.

      I think we should celebrate the diversity that SAPCP ABAP Environment brings to the discussion, because diversity is always a good thing. If this can bring some of the embedded industry and business knowledge out of the depths of on-prem builds and enlighten them to the opportunities of cloud, it will have been worthwhile.


      Author's profile photo Phil Cooley
      Phil Cooley
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Chris

      Always good to have you chime into blog topics. I've amended the SCP reference now, how SCP means secure copy I have no idea. Makes no sense to me.

      Customers have to come along for the ride as well, it is not only SAP's responsibility. Alot of customers are still implementing S/4HANA on-premise which is astounding to me so while SAP can create a massive trough for them to drink out of customers need to actually bring the horse closer to drink out of it. SAP are doing heaps to transition resources so there are no excuses now to not get up to speed with the new cloud based technologies.

      Considering where SAP was 20 years ago with ABAP being the only proprietary language as I have said above it is a massive jump to where they are now. You may not think ABAP in SAP Cloud Platform is genius but the transformation over the last decades is pretty amazing and SAP have to be commended for that.

      Thanks for commenting on the post.





      Author's profile photo Thomas Fiedler
      Thomas Fiedler

      Hi Phil,

      if you need a first understanding what it means to adapt existing ABAP Code to SAP CP you can already analyse your ABAP programs for "Cloud-Readiness" by some new checks in the ABAP Testcockpit.

      See the blog from Olga Dolinskaja





      Author's profile photo Phil Cooley
      Phil Cooley
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks for that Thomas Fiedler – will read the blog and get acquainted with this. Thanks for the information, appreciate it!

      Thanks for reading and taking to time to add the new information to the blog.