SAP: Defrosted for Developers

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BANGALORE, INDIA: What is it? The light? The nice nippy air that refreshes your skin instantly? The vague expanse that offers a getaway from the rut? The chance to stare blank at everything and yet nothing? The eerie question - what was I looking for actually? The excuse to look away from idiotic screens and be absorbed in a small-yet-overwhelming world? The cozy feeling that you can open it again any time, even the next very nano-second? The silence of something whirring inside? What?


Opening the refrigerator is more than a silly time warp. There is something hypnotic about it. And something soothing at the same time.

Trance is incidentally just the word that aptly defines the cusp between some commercial-enterprise beings and their somersaulting leap into open-developer tribes. Most of the times you see nothing, and yet get a peek into something je ne sais quoi. You may hear nothing out of the ordinary, and still find your ears pricked up to the unmistakable hoofs of innovation.

It may look blank but it pulls you in with the force of abstract vacuum too. Any time, every time, all the time - whenever you turn the knob of this wonderful mystical tree that the world calls the developer refrigerator. Don't be fooled into thinking that it's just a grey board to stick some to-do notes or family photos (ether-drawing boards and cosmetic portfolio changes, if you will). It's more.


The ‘more' can translate any way. It depends what you are thinking of at that moment. Is it the validation of application stores for an ERP giant? Is it about why open languages should make sense for COTS species? It can be about why a database Gulliver is stopping test cases for that much-adored open community child it adopted? It can be the confusion over fragmentation and chaos happening at some big Cloud stacks? Or wondering whether this chaos is a good thing or a bad thing?

Or it can be the big tangent called HANA?

At SAP TechEd 2013, we managed to share some coffee with a code-worshipper who seamlessly connects the enterprise and developer world for SAP. His mug managed to thaw some questions and helped us make sense of why SAP is opening up and just how much.


Opening that mystical door into the developer stretch with Michael Reh, EVP Business Information Technology, Products & Innovation, SAP AG

Applications, new power at the hands of user and customer at the eye of every software's tornado. Is Shadow IT casting its mark on applications side already?

BYOS is what I call it. Bring Your Own Software is not an alien thing today. IT departments are changing with the way users are evolving. End users want that power and it's understandable. Any employee would want to look great when he makes a presentation to his boss, for instance. Why should it be dry and run-of-the-mill? Why not sleek and sharp? Software, is hence, changing in a lot of ways. Built-in testing was part of the software parcel earlier but today we are talking of building trial versions. With all this shadow IT, the biggest problem for IT departments is not just the budget issues they earlier faced, but that of ownership. Governance is a bigger problem today. Now we are looking at our customers to integrate that sticky knowledge and new-fresh feedback back into the landscape.



You were at the stage unveiling River. An open language as you explained. If it's indeed real-time and so open, is it walking a similar or different path as agile programming and languages of that genre? How does it fit in with HANA space?

HANA is more than a database as we iterated in the key note. There are geospatial capabilities and lot of other features if we take a glimpse into recent updates. As a developer, my points of interest become suddenly very interesting here. You can make an application about tracking a burger joint around the spot you are sitting, and that's just one very starting to the big list of amazing questions you can now start asking. New concepts are being built around HANA. New and phenomenal questions are emerging. It is different than agile genre. River is close to Java script and is a lot easier than other comparison points. We have launched Java-based platform for developers to make applications. We have opened to other languages like Ruby on Rails etc so that we don't limit the ecosystem. We have done Agile side as well, whether it was Scrums or ten-day cycles etc. Real time and context is taken to a new level with River.


SAP is progressing with a lot of dimensions in developer space. From free developer licenses, HANA Sandbox to application stores, a lot seems to be happening? How does the market aspect of it play along, like monetization or retro-fitting applications into enterprise buckets?

Like I said, HANA is not just a database any more. You can ask so many difficult and expensive questions with its power in your hand now. The days of ETL process or building aggregates or shadow IT will not be factors to worry here. The end user is no more limited. Old world is chugging on well and smoothly and new work is swirling around it but all that is happening without unpleasant disruption. Consolidation of the landscape is a vital direction. We are getting into collaboration with enterprises and that inspires us to do things differently and fresh. A lot of things like the work being done on Genome analysis or genetic processing can be fed back into products or portfolio extensions. There are over a thousand start-ups building applications on HANA and a lot of this space is not the traditional business suite field we have been into. There is the core that we have had, then there is innovation around and on top of it and then there is this strong ecosystem that is being ushered in by us. So old SAP with these new cool waves like HANA, and my answer to your question is- Zein.

What is most exciting today when you see things in and around SAP?


Creating excitement for end users is simply marvelous. I get a different high when I think of the phenomenon called coding. Today it's not hard to aspire for everyone to understand technology. We are taking it to different realms altogether.

What next?

Anyone can go to Amazon and deploy a HANA instance within minutes and create live projects. We are generating at generating freedom instead of lock-in worlds. We are supporting different kind of languages. So, we are removing a lot of barriers. Easy trials, easy to consume tools and lot more is coming out. We are opening up in sense of languages and other ways. The perception of ‘SAP is complex' for certain people, if anywhere even now, will certainly be broken with a strong force in near future. We are going to change that.