Explaining SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP) to a Beginner
In January 2021, SAP introduced a unique and powerful solution offering called SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP). SAP BTP is the technical foundation of entire SAP ecosystem and plays a crucial role for all SAP customers and partners.
In this blog, we will understand what SAP BTP is from a beginner’s perspective.
Anyone who is completely new to SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP) and want to get a crystal-clear understanding of what it is and what problems it solves.
This blog is targeted for people who are looking for a simple explanation of SAP BTP.
In this blog, we will learn:
- What is SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP)?
- Technical aspects of SAP BTP
- Four Key Pillars of SAP BTP
- History of SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP)
- Why was “SAP Cloud Platform” rebranded to “SAP Business Technology Platform”?
- What makes SAP BTP different?
What is SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP)?
Let s try to understand SAP BTP using 2 example scenarios.
There is an organization (whether an existing SAP customer or new to SAP ecosystem) who wants to build a cloud solution or a mobile solution. In this solution, they need to integrate multiple systems, automate complex business processes, incorporate new-age technologies (like IoT, Predictive Analytics, Machine Learning etc.).
An existing SAP customer wants to build a cloud solution to extend SAP systems ( e.g. S/4HANA, SuccessFactors). The customer need services for seamless integration between systems and application. They also need to have independence in managing downtime, scalability, and lifecycle management.
In both the scenarios, organizations want to build the solution with minimal effort, low cost and have faster time to market. They don’t prefer to spend money and time on things like landscape setup, system installation, configuration, and maintenance.
SAP BTP is an offering from SAP which fulfil all these requirements. SAP BTP is a portfolio of SAP solutions and services that are brought under one umbrella. These services, and solutions helps organizations build a new cloud solution or extend SAP systems.
In other words – SAP BTP is a bundle of many, many different services. Some of those services can be used for innovation and application development, some services are purely for monitoring, some are databases as a service, and some are runtimes as a service. BTP platform gives you access to all these services.
SAP BTP provides all the necessary resources to create a cloud solution. It allows you to focus on business logics, while BTP takes care of the technical aspects behind the scenes.
An Analogy of SAP BTP from Real-life
To understand SAP BTP, let’s take a real-life analogy.
Imagine you’re starting a new business and you want to open a restaurant (similar to an organization building a new cloud solution or extending existing SAP solution). You have a clear vision of the type of food you want to serve and the atmosphere you want to create.
While you want to open a new-age, world class restaurant and have lots of creative ideas, there are 3 important criteria you have:
- You want to focus only on your core restaurant business. (Like an organization wants to focus on their core business, e.g., BMW wants to focus on building world-class car.)
- You don’t want to spend time on things which are although important but irrelevant for your business. For example, security of your restaurant, infrastructure like building, electricity, water supply etc. (Like an organization wants to avoid landscape setup, system installation, maintenance etc.)
- You dont want to lose the market opportunity by delaying the opening of your restaurant. You want to open the restaurant as soon as possible. (Like an organization wants to launch new product fast to gain higher market share)
To achieve such goal, first thing that will come to our mind is, find a shop on rent, find a job consultancy firm which can help you hire good chefs, contact a vendor to procure tools and equipment for your kitchen, search another vendor to help you with interior of restaurant etc.
But imagine the hustle you will feel to manage all these vendors and providers. What if there is a company called SAP (Start-up Assistance Provider), which provides everything you need to open your restaurant. This company gives you an umbrella of services (equivalent to SAP BTP), which bundles everything you need, such as:
- Infrastructure to open the restaurant like building, interiors etc. (equivalent to data centres, programming run time to build applications)
- Security for your restaurant, security guards, locks, cameras etc. (equivalent to services for authentication, authorization, single sign-on, encryption, data privacy etc.)
- Ready-made tools and equipment to setup kitchen (equivalent to services which provides out-of-the-box support for integration, development environment, IDE, alerts, monitoring, process automation etc.)
- Training to your staff, expert advice on how to run a restaurant more effectively and profitably (equivalent to best practice, sample architecture for common use-cases in SAP Discovery Center, personalized training/advisory for customers etc.)
The company SAP (Start-up Assistance Provider) does not require you to pay all the money up-front. But provide an easy Pay-as-you-go model (equivalent to Pay-As-You-Go model in SAP BTP) where you pay very minimal amount in beginning to start your business. As and when you need more service, you can pay accordingly.
Just like this unique service helps people open a world class restaurant by focusing only on core business: cooking and serving delicious food, SAP BTP helps organizations build world-class cloud solution by focusing only on their core business.
Let’s understand the technical aspects of SAP BTP
Now, let’s wear a developer’s hat and understand technical aspects of SAP BTP.
Developers understand technical terms better such as coding, program, language, runtime, database, and API.
Let’s decode SAP BTP for developers.
Assume you are a developer at a SAP partner or customer and have been given responsibility to build a new cloud solution and extend an existing SAP solution. Let’s make a wishlist of developers to fulfil this requirement and see how SAP BTP addresses that.
1. To start the project immediately, you need a Platform-as-a-Service which helps you to build and deploy cloud solutions without any local installation . The platform should allow you choose any programming language of your choice.
–> Technically, SAP Business Technology Platform can be considered as a Platform-as-as-a-Service. SAP BTP provides 3 environments – Cloud Foundry, ABAP and Kyma. All these environments gives you options to choose any programming language in the world, gives you ready-made platform to build and deploy any cloud solution.
2. As a developer you need a ready-made development environment where all the plugins (e.g. CLI tools, build tools, test tools etc.) are preinstalled.
–> SAP BTP provides a service called SAP Business Application Studio, which gives you a ready-made development environment. You can start coding for your solution in no time. No need to install or configure anything.
3. As a developer, you wish for a setup where all the builds and deployments can be done in one click.
–> SAP Business Application Studio along with MTA Build Tool (MBT), BTP CLI etc. simplifies all the build and deployment. No need to spend hours in building and deploying your code.
4. One of the major requirement of a cloud solution is a Database-as-a-Service which fulfil all data related requirement – Be it storing huge amount of data or processing structured as well as unstructured data or provide real-time access to data from multiple source.
–> SAP BTP provide a cloud effective variant of SAP HANA database called “SAP HANA Cloud”. One service to solve all your data related requirement.
5. Developers love to focus on solving complex business requirements and writing best algorithm.
–> SAP BTP provides frameworks like “SAP Cloud Application Programming Model” which minimizes developers job. It literally helps developer focus only on business logic and take care of everything else.
SAP BTP Cloud Capabilities
SAP BTP services and solutions can be broadly categorized in 5 pillars, which are:
- Application Development
- Data and Analytics
Below image summarizes major services falling under each pillar.
You can go to SAP Discovery Center to know more about each services.
History of SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP)
Although SAP BTP offering is relatively new, it consists of solutions that have been around for years, and some of the BTP components go back quite a way.
The Application Development and Integration pillar of SAP BTP can trace its lineage back to SAP NetWeaver Cloud (Neo) – SAP’s first Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering.
Below image shows brief timeline.
Note: At this point, you may not understand terms like Cloud Foundry, Kyma etc. That’s perfectly ok. We will learn these in our next blog.
2012: SAP entered the PaaS market with “SAP NetWeaver Cloud”. The code name Neo, short for NetWeaver On-Demand.
2013: SAP NetWeaver Cloud renamed to “SAP HANA Cloud Platform”
2017: Cloud Foundry environment got added along with Neo
2017: The term “HANA” was dropped from the name. New name: “SAP Cloud Platform”. So far, it was a PaaS offering by SAP to create new applications or extend existing SAP applications in a secure cloud environment.
2018: ABAP environment got added in SAP Cloud Platform
2020: Kyma environment got added in SAP Cloud Platform
2021: SAP Cloud Platform brand was officially retired to support SAP’s One Platform Strategy. SAP BTP was introduced as new brand name. SAP BTP provides extended functionality; however, the core is still equivalent to what is formerly known as SAP Cloud Platform.
SAP BTP is not a 1:1 replacement of SAP Cloud Platform. SAP Cloud Platform makes up only the
application development and integration pillar of SAP BTP.
Why was “SAP Cloud Platform” rebranded to “SAP Business Technology Platform”?
Imagine you have a store selling different kinds of candies. Over time, you notice that customers prefer more than just candies; they also want different types of treats like chocolates and cookies. So, to better serve your customers and reflect the variety of products you offer, you decide to rebrand your store with a new name that includes “Treats” in it. This way, people will understand that your store has expanded beyond just candies.
Similarly, SAP Cloud Platform was originally focused on providing cloud-based services for businesses. However, as time went on, SAP realized that their platform was offering more than just cloud services. It also included technologies for application development, integration, analytics, and more.
To better represent the broader range of offerings and show that it’s not just about the cloud, SAP decided to rebrand their platform as SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP).
This new name helps customers understand that the platform is not limited to the cloud but also includes various technologies to help businesses with their overall technology needs.
To summarize, SAP rebranded SAP Cloud Platform to SAP BTP to better reflect that it’s not just about cloud services anymore. It’s a comprehensive platform that provides various tools and services for businesses to build, integrate, and run all kinds of digital solutions, like mobile apps, data analytics, artificial intelligence, and more.
What makes SAP BTP different?
There are 3 major benefits of SAP BTP, which makes it different and unique solution offering for organizations.
To meet customer demand for a more intuitive, simple platform, SAP BTP offers a unified experience that spans a wide variety of scenarios around integration, creation of value from data, and extensibility for processes in 25 key industries.
Capabilities in SAP BTP support a simplified user experience and enable functional inter-operability between SAP applications and technology.
SAP BTP is designed for business transformation and not just technology transformation or optimization. SAP BTP features are focused on improving the business outcomes companies can achieve.
The platform offers process- and data-specific tooling that helps organizations rapidly build and extend SAP applications. Business services and prepackaged content help users meet domain-specific requirements and develop focused data analysis scenarios.
Companies need flexibility when it comes to how they deploy and run business processes and IT systems. Because SAP BTP is open, organizations can choose how to build and extend – on a hyperscaler cloud infrastructure, in SAP data centers, or on their own premises.
I hope by now, you will have a clear understanding of SAP BTP.
Check this blog to get a comprehensive learning path for SAP BTP, customized for various job profiles such as Developer, Architect, Consultant and Administrator.
Other blogs on SAP BTP from me, you might be interested:
- A Beginner’s Guide to Understand Major Solutions, Services and Platforms in SAP Ecosystem
- Fundamentals of Multitenancy in SAP BTP
- Fundamentals of Security in SAP BTP
- How to Become Expert in SAP BTP Security– A Complete Learning Journey
- Demystifying SAP Build for Beginners
- Deep Dive into SAP Build Work Zone
- Demystifying DevOps with SAP BTP: Part 1 – What is DevOps?
- Demystifying DevOps with SAP BTP: Part 2 – Navigating SAP BTP DevOps Portfolio
If you have any queries, let me know in comment or get in touch with me at LinkedIn!