I decided to write about this topic after a surprise visit from my director of Abap modifications. One year ago, he was ecstatic after hearing the announcement about a renaissance of Abap in the cloud. SAP reasonably decided to not only further develop its own programming language, but also make it an essential part of SAP Cloud Platform.
Great anticipation, even greater disappointment: in brief, Abap in SCP is a virtual machine which processes the programming code. It works, but the performance is meager.
What we expected was Abap and other programming languages integrated into SCP, available for all its services in a clear and transparent way. What we got was a virtual machine doubling as a Trojan horse.
Unfortunately, I cannot elaborate – it’s been 20 years since I’ve last seen Abap code. What I did do, however, was that I called some colleagues of mine to talk about the strategic purpose behind SCP.
Cloud First – SCP Never?
It was then that I was informed about SAP CTO and President SAP Cloud Platform Bjoern Goerke’s departure. He left the company and is supposed to resurface at Google. Consequently, I believe that Bill McDermott’s infamous “Cloud First” strategy might be in danger.
Don’t get me wrong, he will find a successor for Bjoern Goerke. Maybe at the Hasso Plattner Institute in Germany, where he had already discovered Juergen Mueller, Bernd Leukert’s successor.
In discussion with my colleagues, I heard something else even more shocking: to develop apps based on SAP Cloud Platform, companies need a regular, expensive SAP license.
This is something that has never crossed my mind before – which is my own fault. Of course, our company has enough developer licenses for every possible engine and platform, so nobody should accuse us of the contrary.
When I started to compare this situation to the rest of the IT world, it started to make sense as to why I never really thought about it. In most cases, developer licenses are cheap. Many hyper scalers even offer AI services as well as databases free of charge (up to a specific data volume).
This means that hundreds of IT companies offer programmers, start-ups, or IT students free access to development environments – on-prem and in the cloud.
SAP’s practices, however, actively prevent innovation. What is more, the financial value can’t even justify them. Every successful SCP app would make SAP more money than the one-time developer license. Customers already have to license their entire systems – why be so adamant about these developer licenses, then?
Ultimately, this issue is for SAP user groups to resolve. They really should knock on SAP’s door and demand free access to the development environment for SCP. It is not a far-fetched idea, as SAP already did it once with free Hana licenses (Hana Express Edition).
I strongly believe that SAP can only win with such a strategy. That’s because IT experts and start-ups will then feel more motivated to also use SCP to realize their ideas.
Why should customers use SAP Cloud Platform?
It would also be a great alternative to SAP’s current cloud strategy, which is hoping that its customers will not ask too many questions; like, for example, “Why should I even use SCP in the first place?”
Hyper scalers like AWS, Google, and Microsoft have fantastic offers and global reach. What does SAP Cloud Platform have?
Former SAP CTO Bjoern Goerke hit the nail on the head when he said during TechEd Barcelona 2018 that customers need SCP if they want to stay near SAP’s core. All programs that have to access SAP’s core should therefore be based on SCP.
If SAP does not keep looking for alternatives and stays closed-minded to the benefits of free access for developers, SAP Cloud Platform will collapse in on itself.