My Universal disclaimer: This article is meant as a fairly light-hearted opinion-piece with also a serious message, for all of us that work with SAP to think about too. Please try not to take it too literally (as I do take some “liber-Teas”).
As an expat-Brit (now based in Sweden), like many Brits, I have learned to take my tea with me wherever I go (this can occasionally be logistically challenging), so when SAP invited me along to several BTeaP inspired education days, I positively leapt at the chance (especially when I learned that there was free tea (addendum disclaimer, as well as coffee and other beverages and food too)).
My first BTeaP day was on ABAP-Cloud, as a bit of an old-schooler in ABAP I am like a kid in a sweet shop (or perhaps granny in a tea shop) when shown all the terrific features of the all-new BTeaP ABAP. RAP in the cloud, “keeping the core clean” is the message and you can knock out apps in no time with a lovely low-coupled CDS based design architecture, the RAP accelerators mean that developing a RAP application can be really quick, and all the more mundane parts of the RAP application build are done for you, its really quick and effective. I loved it and can’t wait to get my hands back on it. Then when you build in the BTeaP cloud, you have all the new goodies available, the ability to link in Events and Integrations, you can super easy publish to ODATA APIs(for analytics or interfaces, or to the front end Fiori powered UI5). All is tea-rrific!
Then my second day was the BTeaP Discovery day, and again super interesting, learning all about how Datasphere can federate and manage our meta data and data models and then connect up to all the hyper-scalers, where machine learning can be applied so you can only dream about the possibilities, but those dreams finally seem fully realizable. Seeing customer BTeaP success cases, learning the benefits of SAP-RISE with BTeaP and learning all about the Sustainability Control Tower. For me of particular interest were the published methodologies for how to extend solutions to enable BTeaP, the kind of guidance that I always wanted from SAP, and not only is it available, but there are equivalent ones for Datasphere, and integrations via CPI too.
Then the BTeaP Fiori day showed off all the latest UI features, and also how you can really make use of the no-code low-code alternatives empowering citizen developers, this idea of empowerment of business users to build their own solutions I think is really great, it means us real developers can put our feet up and have a cuppa-Tea – err I mean can focus on building code where it is really needed, whilst keeping the core clean.
So it all seemed like calm seas whilst drinking my tea and dunking my gluten free biscuit with exciting possibilities everywhere.
Then I started reading some articles written from DSAG (the German SAP User group, who are usually super uber positive on all things SAP), see link to the most relevant article. It all sounds like the beginnings of a revolution; perhaps it’s a repeat of the “Boston Tea Party”!!! ALSO “BTeaP!!!” Ahh! HELP!
Suddenly I started to feel sea-sick, my hands shaked, my tea-cup wobbled. Winds were picking up, I almost spilled my tea!!!!!!!
My BTeaP world was in a huge storm, waves were high. I was in danger of being swept over-boards. To crudely summarise the article (apologies to all things DSAG), it paints a picture of key German SAP user companies who are desperate for the exciting calm seas that BTP seems to offer, and yet they do not see how they can benefit from them without rewriting their own custom solutions completely. Solutions that they are very proud of, that work for them, they feel lost in a storm. The investments that SAP customers have made in their custom code base has meant that historically they have done the polar opposite of “Keeping the core clean” you could say that the core needs a considerable clean-up, and it seems to block the BTeaP journey (with huge waves).
But here’s the thing, SAPs customers regard this code-base (that arguably needs cleaning) in SAPs eyes as the customers inventions that allow them to stretch the boundaries of their SAP solutions. Solutions to provide them with the innovations they need for their business to function, customers regard them as investments they have made for their companies futures.
The killer concern is that to get to all of the new latest and greatest calm BTeaP seas, they have to somehow drain the stormy seas of tightly coupled enhancements that they have, but how will they ever do that? Why can they not just have all the new features and keep the old ones? They see that SAP has previously had the message, that you can keep your enhancements, just use S/4-HANA on premiss/private cloud, and so they have invested in their own infrastructure and solutions, but now they are told, actually to get the benefits, you really need BTeaP with SAP RISE (or so it would seem).
Now I can really see their point, especially when the DSAG article’s attention is turned towards products like solution manager, which is a central component of almost every large SAP customer on the planet, but what version of ABAP is solman on again? Last time I checked I think its 740… how much does it support Agile development in SAP in the pre-BTeaP solutions, not that much when you consider it. Solman could really do with a makeover for customers that choose to keep system on-prem or in their private clouds.
There are 3rd party tools that do make some difference, but there are risks with Agile deployment on a pre-BTP SAP system, especially when you have custom code. If you deploy any code changes and there are any kind of dependencies running to the changes you deploy, you can experience a world of dumps (see oss note 162991 for more), and so negative user experiences and worse customer experiences.
What if you could safeguard against this? I strongly argue that this is possible (and in fact not rocket science), and I have some custom code designs of my own to help to solve this particular problem, but this in itself will be a journey that I hope to blog on later.
Agile deployment risk can be managed, as long as it is clearly understood in depth, the solutions should not be a black and white statement of “keep the core clean or else”, but instead a multi-track offering that shows all customers the possibilities for how they can leverage the best of what SAP-BTeaP has to offer as well as leveraging customer innovations both from the past and into the future, no matter where the customers are in this journey. I think the problem the article points towards is that the messaging is all very tightly focussed on one particular journey that seems very distant to many current DSAG customers.
To support SAP they actually have many parts of this offering, but their message gets a bit lost, and this because of the continued hard focus on BTeaP and Rise and a clean core, without really explaining to their loyal customers how to get the best of both their old world and SAPs new, and that they do not need to be mutually exclusive (which on reflection in reality is mostly the case I think). So really all thats needed is a more nuanced message and a bit of love into solving some of their customers current problems in the on premiss private cloud or even pre-cloud worlds.
When I look at the tools that are in BTeaP and the possibilities on a traditional S/4 Hana solution, there are many ways that organisations can mostly gain the benefits of both worlds, although I do think that there could be some SAP love and care going into Solution manager, to how to guard the risks of agile deployment, and to the on premiss/private cloud worlds where many SAP customers still reside and also plan to stay, so that this becomes more of a storm in a BTeaP-cup and not the all-new Boston Tea Party. The message should not be an all or nothing double expresso with SAP Rise, but more of a milky tea approach, perhaps all that’s needed is a minor tweak into the SAP messaging, and of course a nice cup of tea!
Julian Philips, SAP ABAP och utvecklingsarkitekt på Avega