2018 November 28th. The first day of TechEd in Bangalore. The presence of so many participants of SAP Eco System speaks volumes about the continuous success of SAP TechEd and hence the acceptance of the SAP product portfolio. Gives an impression that, SAP is on the right track.
I entered Hall 4 to attend the welcome address and keynote. The whole hall was full at 9:30 am in the morning. Welcome address from Dilip and keynote from Bernd set the platform beautifully. During the keynote speech, Bernd mentioned about the new inventions from SAP. He talked about Intelligent Enterprise, SAP HANA Data Management Suite, ABAP on Cloud, External Connectors, SAP Cloud Platform Functions, Leonardo enhancements, S/4HANA Cloud, copilot and many more. Participants showed their acceptance of the products with thunderous applause.
The keynote from Bernd was well supported by the entertaining and rightful enterprise “red car” demo by Ian and Ranju which showcased these inventions. The different flavors of Intelligent Enterprise came out beautifully in the demo.
And after the key note finished, the show floor opened for lectures, hands-on workshops, demo, code jam, and road map sessions. Most of the sessions were overflowing with participants but at the same time were well received. And though there were 15 minutes gap between two sessions, the possibility of being able to get into next session was very difficult as already a mega queue used to be there even half an hour before the start of the session. I think, this needs to be taken care next time, as I could see lot of frustrated faces standing outside the sessions waiting for an opportunity to be able to participate.
In most of the sessions, two buzz words which really got highlighted are #Intelligent Enterprise and #SAP Cloud Platform Functions.
The ERP (conventional) which helps us in managing E2E scenario of Enterprise World is an essential instrument to run the daily show in today’s Enterprise Business. Starting from movement of Raw Material to Finished Products, from payment to Invoice, from customer generation to customer retainment, from Recruitment to Employee Retention or even from Revenue to Profit generation and Balance sheet maintenance, all aspects of such and many more complicated scenarios are covered with this. And with the ever-increasing complexity of the business process, even thinking of running a business without ERP is now a nightmare.
Hence ERP is THE de-facto tool of Enterprise World to run smooth. Understood. So, what is Intelligent Enterprise?
What we discussed about ERP (conventional) can also be called as Transactional ERP (I heard this nomenclature in one of the sessions in TechEd and liked it). And as the nomenclature suggests, it helps in running day-to-day affair of an Enterprise. But in today’s world, with the fast-changing need of end customers and intense competitions in the market, the Enterprises must think beyond their day-to-day activities to be able to survive in this competitive world. There have been enormous instances where the organization has become from one of the Top 50 fortune companies to barely being able to make into Top 1000 companies as it could not foresee and hence could not act based on the possible change in business model, technology enhancement and customer need. And the organizations which could visualize and dared to adjust could prosper and are doing good.
What an Intelligent Enterprise brings on table is Conventional ERP + Rapid Adaptability.
And to be able to nurture the habit of Rapid Adaptability, an Enterprise needs to take the historical and real-time data from all aspects of the business at finger-tip, AI & ML system to not only define the trend based on the data but also to help in defining strategy by successfully applying the findings in business processes, customer experiences and insights. Such Enterprises mostly define the customer needs even before customer could realize or visualize it.
And hence companies like APPLE, SAP, AMAZON who are already following such practices are the best performers in their own field have been building on such products and provide delight to their customers and are able to be in the Everest of their businesses since long.
One of the new inventions in SAP Serverless kitty which caught many eyes and was show cased in the demo is SAP Cloud Platform Functions. While Bernd’s keynote and the “red car” demo could highlight importance of Functions in nutshell, let me take this opportunity to highlight salient benefits of SAP Cloud Platform Functions which will make it unique and popular even in SAP Eco System.
In the demo, as mentioned by Ian, we have taken a simple tweet, using Intelligent Enterprise with machine learning, we understood what the tweet is about and converted it to an opportunity.
And as mentioned by Bernd, one major tools to achieve Intelligent Enterprise is SAP Platform Cloud Functions. BETA version is now available now.
SAP Platform Cloud Functions is a fully managed Function as a service (FaaS) which provides a platform to execute ephemeral, stateless functions in a serverless environment. It is built on Kubernetes Gardener, uses a kubernetes cloud-foundry project open service broker, uses Google’s open source collaborative platform KNative. Function can use an event-driven model to react to any incident in an SAP S/4HANA system. And based on the incident, follow-up activities can be triggered.
Salient features of SAP Cloud Platform Functions include:
- Functions are atomic pieces of code used to develop microservices and to enable responsive applications in event-driven architectures.
- Functions are run in stateless compute containers and are fleeting in their existence since they often last just one invocation.
- As a result, functions are a cost-effective solution for customers since they need only pay for the resources used while a function is executed, not for idle downtimes.
- Use functions to build new applications and extensions that can react to triggers across clouds and landscapes in a serverless environment.
- Available as a service in a serverless environment, functions have many advantages for customers since the cloud provider is responsible for auto-scaling, managing, and operating the infrastructure leaving developers with the time and freedom to concentrate on application logic.
- Triggers include events, timers, and HTTP calls.
- Out-of-the-box, you can send events from SAP S/4HANA and trigger functions in your responsive, event-driven applications built on SAP Cloud Platform.
Functions can be used to support the lot of use cases, for example:
- Develop microservices: write loosely coupled atomic logic that is quick to build and scale automatically.
- Support IoT/Big Data scenarios: automatically invoke functions to process, transform, and store data from thousands of sensors to the cloud.
- Enable responsive, event-driven applications: use functions to listen and respond to events across the Cloud platform and external events to validate data, process files, and send notifications.
- Streamline processes: create time-based triggers to schedule recurring activities such as reporting and clean-up jobs.
In the “red car” demo demonstrated in the key note, as per the business requirement, through Functions a regular update was sent to the customer after every milestone of the production (an event) of the red car.
Not only SAP Cloud Platform Functions was highlighted in the key note, but also there were three other sessions on SCP Functions. Participants eagerly participated in Hands-on Workshop and a mini code-jam session of SAP Cloud Platform Functions. They developed E2E scenario of SAP Cloud Platform Functions using WEB IDE and SAP Cloud Platform Cockpit. Also SAP Cloud Platform Functions was included in Usability Testing, a new inclusion in TechEd and got feedback from early users on overall flow. And all the sessions were completely full of enthusiastic participants and well supported by development team members.
Do find below few snapshots of the overall experience.
- Hands-on Session
- Mini Code-Jam
- Usability Testing
Even before SAP TechEd we had observed some traction on SAP Cloud Platform Functions BETA version. Some champions have even written blogs on SAP Cloud Platform Functions which are very helpful. And should you intend to experience SAP Cloud Platform Functions, make your hands dirty and feel good about it, please follow the blogs.
And to implement a fully event-driven, serverless architecture for the Intelligent Enterprise, use SAP Cloud Platform Functions (beta) with further SAP Cloud Platform services including, for example:
- SAP Cloud Platform Enterprise Messaging
- SAP Cloud Platform API Hub
- SAP Cloud Platform Integration
- SAP Cloud Platform Backend service
Overall it was a great TechEd experience with great learning. And with these new inventions in SAP’s kitty, the future is definitely inspiring.