For many years, SAP has not been able to get a grip on their data chaos. Whether it’s NetWeaver PI/PO, Data Hub, Smart Data Integration, Data Fabrics, Information Steward, or now Datasphere, there is no shortage of new ideas, but none hit the mark. This was one of the many findings from the Technology Days Conference in Mannheim, Germany, held by the German-speaking SAP user group (DSAG).
SAP Basis Consolidation
This selection of terms from the realm of data management is arbitrary, incomplete, and disorganized: NetWeaver PI/PO, Data Hub, Smart Data Integration, Data Fabrics, Information Steward, Datasphere, etc. The hodgepodge of terms shows that SAP is trying to find a solution, but continues to avoid facing reality. If SAP had used insights from the open source community, their consolidation would probably have taken a more stringent path, but would perhaps have yielded less licensing revenue.
But it’s not just in the field of data management that SAP owes customers a crystal-clear roadmap: as of yet there is still no exit strategy for document management based on Adobe Document Services. The end of SolMan is defined as 2027, and at the DSAG Technology Days, SAP CTO and Executive Board member Juergen Mueller repeatedly emphasized that SAP would not be extending ERP/ECC 6.0 or SAP Business Suite 7’s availability.
Security and compliance
SAP has been promising customers a security dashboard for a global overview of ERP architecture since 2018. Many individual solutions have been presented over the past years; however, a holistic security suite does not appear to be feasible.
SAP has problems with features that bring in less revenue and are less attractive. Alongside security, the topic of compliance has also been largely ignored. At the conference in Mannheim, SAP presented an interesting low-code/no-code tool, but could not explain how the linked apps are meant to adhere to compliance standards. Topics such as app monitoring on the Business Technology Platform (BTP) and beyond have also been excluded for now. In the meantime, SAP is full of innovative ideas, but reality appears to quite different for SAP’s customers.
SAP is aware of its shortcomings. An SAP Business Transformation Center powered by Cloud ALM is meant to act as a safety net for the S/4 conversion. SAP has a guide for business data transformation and numerous tools for this exact purpose: Signavio, ALM, and LeanIX. Next to these apps, however, SolMan has no future. SAP’s customers will thus be forced to learn many new procedures, tips, and tricks, alongside their digital transformation journey, which cannot simply come to a standstill.
RAP and CAP
The Abap RESTful Application Programming Model (RAP), along with Cloud Application Programming (CAP), is another challenge for SAP Basis customers and another case where customers require further information and guidance. CAP allows holistic cloud applications to be created centrally in a fully comprehensive framework and this includes Core Data Services (CDS). With RAP, the path leads towards Steampunk (Embedded Abap), a platform which SAP wants to revolutionize Abap development with. Unfortunately, in the case of RAP and CAP, many roads lead to Rome, or in this case to Walldorf, the SAP headquarters in Gernany. Core Data Services, Behavior Definitions, and UI annotations will now be used to develop applications meant to work for S/4 in the private and public cloud.
Another discourse at the Technology Days Conference was the question of low-code (SAP Build) versus pro-code. Even in an S/4 world, SAP legacy customers will demand specific modifications. With the claim of a Clean Core, there will be restrictions for the “Z namespace”, but without customization, the private cloud concept (on-prem) will not work, see RAP or CAP.
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