Björn Goerke’s keynote at SAP TechEd 2017 in Las Vegas went full on for entertainment with the wall-to-wall Star Trek theme reminding us here at Keytree of the Star Trek uniforms worn at a previous TechEd.

Amongst the fun of the geek-friendly delivery were some fascinating announcements: SAP Cloud Platform public beta on Google Cloud plus SAP joining joining the Cloud Native Computing Foundation with hints at kubernetes on SAP Cloud Platform to come.

One of the biggest cheers was for ABAP on SAP Cloud Platform offering a delivery route to a new community of developers on the platform. Also announced was the Mendix low code development toolset on the platform, again giving access to a new set of users to develop for the platform.

Mark Williment

Mark Williment

Head of Technology

Enthusiastically as ABAP on SAP Cloud Platform was received in the auditorium – or so it appeared while watching the live stream from autumnal London, on Twitter there were doubts; was this a step backward – ABAP is nowhere near the top of lists of “cloud native” languages.

However, I think such concerns are unwarranted. Successful business software delivery rarely depends on an underlying programming language. The knowledge the development team has of business process and data, the effectiveness of the team in using the language and the way the components interact with others is the essential ingredient in achieving success.

Taking each of these in turn – in a SAP house, ABAP developers have often been with an organisation for a long time, and know the company’s business processes and data inside out. They also can use ABAP effectively and efficiently. Therefore, those ABAP developers are well placed to develop extensions to business systems. I believe Platforms as a Service such as SAP Cloud Platform are the best way to deploy. ABAP on SAP Cloud Platform puts together the developers who know the business best, with the best way to deploy.

The final part is interacting effectively with other components. REST APIs using web standards are the right way to do this in the cloud, as noted in these FAQs. ABAP on SAP Cloud Platform will focus on RESTful programming. Services developed in ABAP provide (and consume) REST APIs – they fit into an architecture where they’re consumed by and consume other REST services, be they written in Java, JavaScript, Go, .Net, etc.

Mendix addresses a similar need – opening up development and deployment to the platform to a wider community. In the case of Mendix, as a low code development environment, in theory, these are groups who are not traditional developers. Note, it’s “low code” not “low development.” There’s still development, logic and flow it’s just the medium that’s different – graphical assembly rather than lines of text.

SAP Cloud Platform SCP

“PaaS is a powerful way to deploy robust development needs and business knowledge – both ABAP and Mendix on SAP Cloud Platform give easier entry points to more people who possess that business knowledge to use the platform, and that can only be a positive step.”

This approach is potentially powerful, however low code tools like Mendix can make the process look far too easy, delivering an app in a few clicks. It is tempered by the reality that “cutting code” is rarely the hardest part, and never the only part of enterprise software delivery. Effective requirements gathering, modeling, scope control, project management, testing and release management are all vital elements.

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