As a long-time SAP customer and, more recently, as an ASUG employee, I’ve had the opportunity to attend many big SAP events. On these occasions, I always look forward to new product and solution announcements. Last week’s SAP TechEd did not disappoint. Using a hybrid conference format, SAP leaders announced several new or updated solutions that promise to make it much easier for SAP customers to extend and manage their SAP solutions effectively and to integrate SAP and non-SAP environments.
Three particular areas excite me because, in alliance with the ASUG mission, they aim to help members and customers get the most from their SAP technology investment.
Democratization of Extensibility: SAP Build
Technical complexities in extending SAP solutions’ core functionality traditionally require a team to build and maintain programming skills to create those extensions. Whether the company uses ABAP or another programming framework, the developer role provides these skills. Unfortunately, this challenges SAP customers: how do we understand the need and provide business-centric extensions while managing scarce development resources?
Instead, what if it could empower business users to create these extensions directly while IT maintains control and governance within existing development frameworks?
Enter the low-code/no-code development model. Clearly, low-code/no-code development has been introduced previously. SAP talked it up at TechEd last year and before that. What’s new for SAP customers is a unified solution that combines development, process automation, and user experience to enable business users to create solutions for the business independently, without bottlenecks or other delays caused by scarce professional developer resources. SAP Build brings together the SAP Build Apps Development Environment (formerly called AppGyver), SAP Build Process Automation, and the SAP Build Work Zone central launch pad. While these products have been available separately, SAP now delivers a simplified, unified experience for citizen developers.
Development Evolution: Pro-code Support
So does low-code/no-code mean the demise of, or at least devaluing, professional developers? Absolutely not. There will always be use cases that citizen developer tools need help to meet. At TechEd, SAP described innovations that let professional developers continue to use and evolve their skills, particularly ABAP skills, in Cloud and hybrid environments that are standard for IT landscapes. By providing ways to integrate open standards to support legacy ABAP programming in private and public Cloud scenarios, the SAP approach delivers options, so customers can pick the best technical solutions to meet their business needs.
Let’s discuss one case in point: the SAP Business Technology Platform ABAP environment. This solution has significant implications for customers because it lets them customers develop new or maintain existing ABAP-based solutions in a Cloud environment or on-premise. Because of this release, IT leaders can potentially address several big hurdles related to Cloud migration, technical team skills development, technology adoption, and timeline and project management.
Play Well With Others: Integration
All ASUG members run SAP software and, often, many SAP solutions. ASUG members also run non-SAP software. Integrating various SAP and non-SAP solutions to provide a seamless business solution can be daunting. What’s more, for most customers, these applications span on-premise and cloud environments, further complicating the picture.
TechEd also featured the introduction of the SAP Edge Integration Cell as part of the SAP Integration Suite. SAP Edge Integration Cell is an on-premise runtime engine that delivers an integration solution across cloud and on-premise solutions with a common integration platform. This should let SAP customers manage all integrations consistently, regardless of whether the applications live on-prem or in the cloud.
For me, a key TechEd 2022 takeaway is this: SAP continues to make tremendous strides, providing a more mainstream environment for extending its solutions and integrating increasingly well with others. SAP works to deliver the best of both worlds for customers. Organizations have options that allow making the right choices for their technology and business needs. That can mean development deployed in the business and performed by business users. It can mean sustaining existing ABAP skills. Or teams can acquire and develop skills in other languages.
These and the many other opportunities SAP touted at TechEd provide SAP customers with the flexibility they haven’t previously possessed. Further, they focus on SAP users’ needs to get the most value, and they should result in easier-to-operate-and-maintain SAP solutions as we advance.
David Wascom is ASUG Senior Vice President, Executive Programs.