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 -> https://blogs.sap.com/2018/09/04/sap-cloud-platform-abap-environment/ 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 -> https://cloudplatform.sap.com/enterprise-paas/abap.html
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!