Skip to Content
Author's profile photo Jerry Janda

Keep the Core Clean: Clarifying Points from Björn Goerke’s Keynote

If you attended the keynote at SAP TechEd in Barcelona (or watched online), then you heard Björn Goerke, SAP’s CTO and president of SAP Cloud Platform, hammer home the point of “keep the core clean.” (If you missed the keynote, check out the replay.)

After Björn emphasized this message, you may have taken off your astronaut helmet, scratched your head, and wondered aloud, “What does this have to do with the ‘Opportunity of a Lifetime,’ the keynote’s theme?”

Well, I’m glad you asked. Not to put words in Björn’s mouth, but I believe he was pointing out that customizing standard core systems can lock them, preventing easy updates and upgrades. By adding customizations and extensions to the SAP Cloud Platform instead, however, developers can maintain stable systems while continuing to innovate.

“But, Jerry,” you say, “I have more questions.”

To which I say: “Dammit, Jim, I’m a writer, not a developer!”

Oh. Wait. That was last year.

Anyway, rather than mangle the message, I think it would be best to go straight to the source. In this follow-up video, Björn clarifies what he means by “keep the core clean.”

Need even more details? Then you may want to read this Forbes article. In this piece, Björn talks more about “keep the core clean” and covers several other topics as well.

Still have questions? Please leave comments below. Just, ya know, keep the language as clean as the core, please.



Assigned Tags

      You must be Logged on to comment or reply to a post.
      Author's profile photo Florian Henninger
      Florian Henninger

      Hi Jerry,

      thanks for catching this phrase and provide more information. In my eyes it's not that easy to answer. But won't go to deep here, as you pointed out. Your not a developer and as a developer I know, that I love to bring technical details in and that's not your point here. So again, just thank you for bringing the different sources together.


      Author's profile photo Jerry Janda
      Jerry Janda
      Blog Post Author

      Thank you, Florian...but please don't let my ignorance discourage you from getting into detailed questions. I can find more technically mind folk to answer. They're already keeping an eye on comments anyway, I'm sure, and they'd be happy to share more info with developers who want it. 🙂

      Author's profile photo Michelle Crapo
      Michelle Crapo

      Nice.  But not.  I wonder how many times changing the core give the business a needed advantage.  Yes, I do agree keep it as clean as possible. 🙂

      Author's profile photo Jelena Perfiljeva
      Jelena Perfiljeva

      Not sure this message needs any clarification at all. It feels like SAP finally arrived at that moment from Liar, Liar movie where, as a "legal advice", they just yell "Stop breaking the law, a*hole!". Or, in this case, "stop customizing the standard with your stupid s*t!". This verbiage probably wouldn't sit well with the customers but, in all honesty, most of them deserve such tough love at this point. And I'm actually glad SAP finally gathered all their audacity to offer "legal advice" in no uncertain terms. No point dancing around it.

      I'm not sure though why this message is directed at the developers though. As a developers, I have to do whatever business and functional folks are telling me. Of course, I can suggest a better / simpler way to implement something or strongly discourage or even find where a configuration is available that a functional person missed. But, essentially, we are at the very bottom of the food pyramid here. Personally, I'm all for "keeping the core clean" even in ECC but that's just not my call.

      Perhaps a complementing message would need to be "start consulting with developers early" to avoid situations when a decision has already been made before it even reaches IT realm.

      Author's profile photo Fausto Motter
      Fausto Motter

      I think that message should be a little different.

      Please, dont destroy the core. Dont drop bombs on core application, comeback to books and start to learn the new technologies that allow you to do improvements (or the developments that you naming as an improvement) without destroy the core. Split the application, data and business rules, goes to a better enhancement solution, and improvement as you need.

      CDS, BRF+, BOPF, API, and some others buzzwords that really can maintain your core live and breathing (and ready for upgrades and value capture).


      Author's profile photo Chris Paine
      Chris Paine


      I'm possibly too much of an advocate for SAP Cloud Platform being _the_ place for enhancement and extension, but I think Björn is on point. Everything out of the core if if possible/practicable.

      Let's use that API buzzword and extend outside. Imagine your core ERP system is actually SaaS and approach it in that way. Because that will help you when in 10 years time management decide that they want to move in that direction.

      This is revolutionary rather than evolutionary, but the same messaging is hitting business at all levels, as developers we need to not only look at the easy way of doing things but also open our eyes to the long term impacts of those choices.




      PS. Check out myself and Matthias Steiner rifting on these ideas in the video we did at SAP TechEd Barcelona.


      Author's profile photo John von Aspen
      John von Aspen

      "Keep the core clean"  I like it, it's got a nice alliteration to it.  I'll use it with customers.  But besides the phrasing, it's nothing that we have not been saying to customers for EVER!  Enhancement ok, mod bad. But as it turns out, yes, mods are bad (usually) but too many enhancements really aren't ok either.  They add dollars, risk, and time to upgrades.  So along comes the magic cloud; keep the core clean and put those dirty enhancements over here and call them via an api.  So why don't we do that with ECC?  It sounds great.

      And while I'm on a rant, does anyone at SAP understand how projects work anymore? Business people do not work directly with developers. Business folks work with functional consultants/analysts who then figure out/negotiate what can be done via configuration, and what requires development.  Functional consultants then write a functional spec which specifies WHAT needs to happen.  Then the developer figures out HOW to make it happen.  And if everyone is good at their jobs then good things happen.  Or we can just find the cheapest people at every step and wonder why SAP sucks.

      Author's profile photo Stephan Heinberg
      Stephan Heinberg

      Hopefully SAP does not keep the core stable, but innovates also on standard application data model.

      From my personal experience I noticed that SAP does deliver a lot of new technology but only takes small steps to innovate and clean ERP-ECC data model. I know all the simplifications, but the pace is quite slow.

      For me SAP is now a company who sells technology and not a standard applications, that can be used out of the box.

      Henning Kagermann talked already about stable core in 2006.