SAP TechEd 2015 in Barcelona: On a Mission to Mars

The HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) was THE dominating topic at this year’s SAP TechEd in the sunny city of Barcelona. The “HANA” in it’s name may be a bit misleading, because although the HANA-database is of course part of the platform, the HCP is rather a collection of many different services for the development and the operation of all kinds of applications. Examples are services for building and operating SAPUI5-apps, gamification, mobile applications, document services, IoT services and so on, and so forth. As the HCP can also be used to adapt and extend existing OnPremise- and cloud-solutions of SAP, and is the basis for many new SAP solutions, maybe we could refer to it as the true successor of the NetWeaver platform.

If you want to get a good overview of what is possible today with help of the HANA cloud platform, and how the development of applications in the SAP-area will look like in a few years, you HAVE to watch the keynote of Björn Goerke here: http://events.sap.com/teched/en/session/26506. Not one of the usual keynotes with a sequence of buzzwords, but a one-hour “one-man-live-coding-demo-show”, around a story of “The Martian“.

keynote_martian.png

 

Other important topics:

  • Analytics and Big Data: SAP Cloud for Analytics (C4A), the new one-stop-shop for everything that has to do with analytics, planning and predictive, was already announced a few weeks before at the SAP TechEd in Las Vegas, and is also based on the HCP: http://www.sapcloudanalytics.com
  • Internet of Things: IoT surely is one of the key-trends in technology in the coming years. SAP has a “cloud-first” approach in this area, with again the HCP (and it’s IoT Services) being the central platform for it.
  • Fiori Cloud Edition: I participated in a workshop where I could see how easy it is to configure and even extend Fiori-applications, that are hosted in the HCP-based offering “Fiori Cloud Edition”. You can try it for yourself at https://www.sapfioritrial.com. General availability is planned for January 2016.
  • Fiori 2.0: many improvements and innovations of the upcoming Fiori-release have to do with the launchpad, and the possibilities for users to handle larger amounts of applications within it. The result looks like some sort of a mixture between Fiori Launchpad and NetWeaver Portal.

Finally some impressions of the event and the beautiful city of Barcelona:

New products announced at SAPPHIRE NOW in Orlando

From May 14th to 16th 2013 SAP’s annual customer conference “Sapphire Now” took place in Orlando. SAP announced many new products there, I would like to present you some of them.

SAP Fiori

“SAP Fiori” represent currently 25 very simple and intuitive HTML5-based “apps”, that can be used both on desktops and tablets, as well as on smart-phones. Under the slogan “keeping simple things simple” the applications cover the most used but least complex use cases of SAP ERP, e.g. workflow-approvals and self-service scenarios like leave requests. Those use cases affect 80% of the SAP-users and more than 45% of the SAP-usage at all.

The following video and the demos at https://experience.sap.com/fiori#demos give a first impression of “Fiori” (wich is Italian for “flowers”, btw):

You can find more detailed information at https://experience.sap.com/fiori and https://help.sap.com/fiori.

SAP Lumira

SAP brings their BI-tool “Visual Intelligence” to the cloud and calls it “Lumira”. Lumira is a self-service BI-tool that can be used to analyze and visualize data and share the results it with colleagues. The data can originate from HANA, relational databases, BO universes or Excel. There is a beta-version available at https://beta.saplumira.com, more information can be found at http://timoelliott.com/blog/2013/05/new-sap-lumira-see-the-light.html.

SAP Afaria Cloud Edition

Afaria Cloud Edition is the cloud-version of the mobile devicement management solution Afaria, which SAP pushes to the market for the very competitive price of 1 Euro (or 1,11 $) per device and month. Besides the device-management itself, Afaria Cloud Edition also allows to protect the installed apps. For that, the “Mobile App Protection Solution” of the new partner Mocana is used.

Replays of the keynotes can be found here.

SAP Screen Personas

In my last post I already mentioned SAP Screen Personas as an impressing tool that allows to completely overhaul classical dynpros, without programming.

Now SAP Screen Personas is available, according to http://scn.sap.com/community/technology-innovation/blog/2012/12/12/sap-screen-personas-is-now-available.

This video replay from the Demo Jam at TechEd Las Vegas shows Screen Personas in action: http://www.sapvirtualevents.com/teched/sessiondetails.aspx?sId=3454

The following video on the other hand explains the technical backgrounds of Screen Personas. E.g. the ITS is used to read the screen definitions:

Finally, you can find more information on http://wiki.sdn.sap.com/wiki/display/Img/SAPScreenPersonas.

 

Update:

This demo from the SAP Imageneering team shows how to modify dynpros with Screen Personas:

 

TechEd and Sapphire 2012 Madrid – a recap

From November 13th to 15th I attended this year’s SAP TechEd in Madrid (it was already my 7th TechEd, by the way). With this post I want to give you a (maybe a little bit late) recap of the most important topics and announcements.

The three central pillars of SAP’s innovation- and product-strategy are still the same that we know for many years now – In-Memory (HANA), cloud and mobile. In his keynote Co-CEO Jim Hagemann-Snabe drew an interesting analogy to the music industry with MP3 (= HANA, due to the data compression), Napster (= cloud) and iPod (= mobile) to point out that there could come up a similar disruption in the world of business software:

Announcements and most important topics

With “SAP 360 Customer” SAP announced a new CRM-solution, which basically is a combination of several products around sales and customer management. This includes “SAP CRM powered by HANA”, an enhanced version of SAP CRM that is at the same time the first transactional system based on HANA, SAP Sales OnDemand, a cloud-solution with mobile apps for sales-people, SAP Social OnDemand for the integration with social media channels, and SAP Jam for the collaboration within the sales team. All together this is supposed to allow for a 360-degrees-view of the customer.

Within the cloud-solutions we see more and more single-purpose so called “LoB-solutions” (Line of Business), in addition to the complete ERP-suite Business ByDesign (which became more successful during the last months, as more and more bigger enterprises discover it as solution for their subsidiaries). The newest one is “Financials OnDemand“. The HR-solution of the acquired company SuccessFactors is strongly promoted by SAP and is supposed to be the standard solution for all HR-processes except the core payroll functions, i.e. for talent management, recruiting and so on. The corresponding solutions from SAP itself probably won’t be developed further.
Besides the business solutions SAP also presented “NetWeaver Cloud” as development platform in the clound (“PaaS”), and the “Cloud Portal“.

In the area of mobility we will see some modifications to the “SAP Mobile Platform” after the acquisition of Syclo, but this wasn’t a big topic at this year’s TechEd yet. But beside from that it also becomes increasingly easier to develop mobile applications for SAP with arbitrary technologies (see also http://scn.sap.com/community/developer-center/mobility-platform/blog/2012/04/10/developer-announcemnet-third-party-tools).

The biggest topic for SAP still is HANA. More and more products and solutions run on HANA, the newer cloud-based solutions anyway, but also classical OnPremise-solutions. Today you can run your BW-system on HANA and there are some “accelerators” that work with a replicated ERP-database. CRM will be the first transactional system running on HANA, as mentioned above, and next year the whole business suite is supposed to follow. Also next year the new AS ABAP 7.4 will be available, which will allow to write ABAP-code that is optimized for HANA as underlying database.
Today HANA is still a very expensive product if you want to use it in your landscape as you need an appliance, but with “HANA One” you can now also rent it as cloud-service, and soon it will also run in virtualized environments (VMWare).

Some other highlights

  • NetWeaver Gateway: the ABAP-based middleware exposes data from arbitrary SAP-systems in OData-format, which is SAP’s new preferred type of interface, especially for mobile applications, but also for others. As all systems and solutions of SAP will be OData-enabled in the future this concept will be very important for developers
  • SAPUI5: this HTML5-library is already generally available since a few months, but in the newest version it now also supports mobile and analytical applications
  • ABAP in Eclipse: since a few months SAP provides an Eclipse plugin which allows you to use Eclipse as source-code editor for SAP
  • SAP Screen Personas: an impressing tool with which you can completely re-design and re-arrange classical dynpros (no web-dynpros!), i.e. you can change colors and texts, add background images, hide fields, set default values for fields, and so on.
    You can find more information e.g. here, and this video explains the technical backgrounds.

More Technical Details about Business ByDesign

The TechEd 07 in Las Vegas has started, and Peter Zencke unveiled some more technical details about SAP Business ByDesign (BBD) in his keynote and an interview with Dan Farber.

Some key points:

  • Everything is built on services (UI is built on services also, there no integration of components on the database-level like in R/3 but on the service-level)
  • SAP will not allow to run custom code in the hosted environment, but customers can run code on their own site, e.g. compose new applications based on the hosted services
  • AJAX-functionality is not included in the UI for BBD at the moment, but it will come
  • The basic foundation for BBD is ABAP (Objects), having “one implementation for each function”. The layers above are done with Java, based on (and partially automatically generated from) models.
  • “Customizing” is done with a configurator, with a “question and answer and constraint engine”, not on the level of process models
  • Linux is used as operating system for the hosted environment, and SAP’s own MaxDB as database

Technorati:

A1S is “SAP Business ByDesign”

Today SAP officially announced it’s new on-demand Enterprise Software for small and mid-sized businesses called “Business ByDesign” (BBD), which was formerly known as “A1S”, in a press-conference in New York.

built_inbusinessanalytics_app

CEO Henning Kagermann called it “the most important announcement” of his career and described BBD as “breakthrough innovation”. In fact, the SaaS-market is completely new for SAP but probably very important for it’s future, and BBD is perhaps the most important product for SAP since R/3, which made the German software-vendor to the market-leader in business software in the 90’s. And the way BBD was designed and built is truly innovative. It is completely service-based (“SOA by design”, also the UI is based on services in contrast to ERP where the services are delivered additionally to the transactions), and it was built with the latest model-based development tools from SAP (Composition Environment).

An often heard (see also Nicholas Carr’s post) question/thought is whether BBD could threaten SAP’s own business. Larger companies running SAP’s rather expensive ERP or Business Suite could also think of using a cheap and easy to implement on-demand software, what by the way would also challenge a whole industry of consultants implementing and adapting SAP software for customers. But those larger businesses will probably always have the need for a wider adaption of their enterprise software than possible with BBD, and for SAP it’s still better to loose customers to themselves than to loose them to competitors…

The replay of the press-conference can be found here.

Further informations:

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Del.icio.us 2.0

The social bookmarking service del.icio.us, one of the first and most famous Web2.0-sites, is about to redesign it’s user-interface and to introduce some new features. There’s a preview available at http://preview.delicious.com, but only for invited users.

del21

Some of the planned new features include extended sorting options for bookmarks, bulk tag editing, better organization and sorting of friends and watched people and a new search engine.

(from TechCrunch)

Hasso Plattner about Composite Applications – and their major issues

Already last year Hasso Plattner had a lecture at his “Hasso Plattner Institute” (HPI) about the so called composite applications, applications “that sit on other applications” as he said, with no own data storage.

He gave an overview of what composite applications are and illustrated this with the example of Duet, a joint project of Microsoft and SAP to integrate Microsoft Office and SAP applications. I would say this is more an example of an integration of two systems than an example of a composite application, but at least it shows how relatively easy applications can be built with the help of standardized services, on top of web-based platforms (NetWeaver and .Net).
Technically an integration has always been possible Plattner outlined, but nowadays it is easier because of the standardized protocols (e.g. SOAP) and the systematization of application integration.

Nevertheless, there are some issues to consider when composite applications are built (and just as well when systems are integrated):

  • User-experience consistency: which UI-guideline is to use, e.g. that of Microsoft or that of SAP?
  • Data model overlaps: the data of which system is to use, when there are overlaps?
  • Process overlaps: every software has some functionality, perhaps overlapping with other systems, and will obtain new functions in the future. So only the core-processes have to be combined.
  • Joint configuration: to stay in the example of Duet: MS Office has extensive configuration options, and there are thousands of customizing tables in SAP. To bring the two systems together the configuration has to match.
  • Life-cycle synchronization: every software has a release-cycle, perhaps one system changes and the other does not change accordingly.

Finally, as he likes to do very often, Plattner brought an example from the automotive industry, pointing the way for the software industry: in earlier days there were radios with their own brand in cars, nowadays the radios have the “user-interface” of the cars, but the car-manufacturers still don’t produce radios on their own. This would also occur in software-industry, Plattner predicted, software would consist of services (= components) of different manufacturers, and there would be a consistent UI on top the respective application-suite.

A video of the lecture (in German) can be found here:
http://www.hpi-potsdam.com/index.php/2006/07/05/summer-term-2006-composite-applications/
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SAPPHIRE news and announcements

The SAPPHIRE 07 took place a few weeks ago in Atlanta, time to sum up some news and announcements from there:

  • SAP and Adobe will deliver an e-learning suite, integrated in SAP ERP, to offer online-trainings within the SAP environment
  • New features of the coming NetWeaver-Release:
    • “State-of-the-art user-experience”: The SAPGUI-successor “NetWeaver Business Client” (aka “Project Muse“), an enhanced and more ergonomic user-interface for the Portal (with the help of AJAX), and some Web2.0-functions within the portal like e.g. a wiki-system
    • Support for the new Java EE 5 standard
    • NetWeaver “Process Integration” (PI), formerly Exchange Infrastructure (XI), contains new features (e.g. Business Activity Monitoring) and performance improvements
    • NetWeaver “Composition Environment” (CE), a Java-based modeling- and development environment (including and bundling together WebDynpro, Visual Composer and Composite Application Framework)
  • SAP will continue the cooperation with Microsoft on Duet, bringing some new features in the upcoming releases, like connection to SAP CRM and SCM, a development platform to build own integration scenarios and integration with MS Sharepoint
  • There was not much talk about “A1S”, the coming on-demand solution for the mid-market. Probably the launch of the product is postponed to 2008, Q1 or even later. A1S has it’s own code-base, but is based on NetWeaver like other SAP solutions. It will contain a set of web-services which allow to build own extensions for the standard-product, although it is hosted on SAP-servers. There will also be a kind of market-place for these extensions, comparable to the “AppExchange” of salesforce.com.
  • “mySAP ERP 2005” is now called “SAP ERP 6.0”. Back to the roots… ;-)

Sources and continuative links:
http://searchsap.blog-city.com/sapphire_2007_quick_takes.htm
http://searchsap.blog-city.com/sapphire_2007_quick_takes_part_2.htm
http://blog.danmcweeney.com/24
http://www.accmanpro.com/2007/04/24/sapphire-07-day-1-the-wrap/
http://www11.sap.com/company/press/press.epx?PressID=7615
http://www.ekampf.com/blog/2007/04/24/DuetAtSapphire.aspx
http://www.sap.com/company/press/press.epx?PressID=7597
http://www.sap.com/company/press/press.epx?PressID=7690
http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=4903
http://sapport.blogspot.com/2007/04/all-in-one-a1s-business-suite.html
http://www.accmanpro.com/2007/04/27/amr-sees-a1s-confusion-reigns/

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