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The Challenges of Digital Transformation in the New SAP Technology Ecosystem

The crucial transition for companies to SAP Cloud could take years and staggering resources (developers, time, and money). How can organizations do it in the most efficient, smart, and cost-effective way by the 2025 deadline?

It’s clear that the SAP development ecosystem is changing. With the advent of SAPUI5, JavaScript has quickly established itself as a first-class citizen in the SAP development space. Similarly, Java has worked its way back into the conversation for developers building extension apps on SAP CP (and HANA XSA). Furthermore, with SAP’s firm commitment to Cloud Foundry on SAP CP (and elsewhere), we may rest assured that other programming environments (e.g. Python, Ruby and Go) will be headed the same way quite soon.

However, the changes aren’t just limited to glossy new programming environments. There’s also an increasing portion of the overall application suite that’s no longer based on ABAP technology. Even ABAP-based cloud solutions such as S/4HANA Cloud or SAP Business ByDesign, all call for extension development using different environments (notably SAP CP). For customers on older versions of the SAP Business Suite or S/4HANA on-premise. These developments may seem far away for customers on older versions of the SAP Business Suite or S/4HANA on-premise. However, things are moving fast and it’s getting harder and harder to imagine a world with just an S/4HANA instance on premise and nothing else.

Many of the developers working on the SAP ecosystem are dismissive about these developments, in the belief that these capabilities are mostly for edge cases and that these new programming environments will eventually end up in a shallow grave alongside NetWeaver Java.

In their opinion, if this kind of thing has happened before, no matter what, ABAP has never relinquished its crown. So why is the current state of affairs any different?

The New Scenario

However, this time, there are several crucial factors converging into a pivotal crossroad that includes:

● The growing momentum of cloud adoption;

● The consumerization of IT;

● An ever-increasing demand for agility; and

● The mobile revolution (availability of smart devices as well as reliable wireless connectivity).

With so many choices for cloud/SaaS solutions, corporate areas have gained the freedom to opt for the best solutions to cover their needs. This result is a more fragmented IT landscape, with both SAP and non-SAP solutions between the on-premise and cloud.

With SAPUI5, SAP has undeniably extended its business proposition beyond its core functionality. But IT leaders are actually wondering how to streamline enhancement development around all these disparate apps. Does it really make sense to pay for numerous costly specialists to build native extension apps/mashups on top of SAP, Salesforce, etc., using a host of proprietary tools/technologies? Considering techno-economic and other business constraints, is it feasible to invest in implementing some of this new stuff?

Another fact to challenge the status quo on the SAP ecosystem is that the demand for application development has skyrocketed, bringing along a crisis for most IT organizations. According to Gartner´s predictions, the market demand for app development will grow at least five times faster than the IT capacity to deliver it through 2021.If these facts are put into perspective:

● SAP S/4HANA runs only over SAP HANA Database. Also, previous versions of SAP ERP will be supported only until 2025.

● Clients will need to move to SAP Cloud Platform and rewrite what they must run over SAP Cloud Platform and SAP HANA DB, which means additional developers, time and resources.

● ABAP will not be supported by SAP Cloud Platform.

For some time, the SAP development ecosystem has been trapped between two worlds: the legacy world of monolithic architectures and huge on-premise installations chock-full of ABAP Z-programs, and a more modern cloud-based world that emphasizes microservice-based architectures, with a diversity of tools/services, and a trend towards centralized, cloud-native solutions.

The Digital Migration To The Cloud

Since the transition to SAP Cloud could take years – as a well as significant resources in both developers and money-  at this point, the question is how to do it in the most efficient and intelligent way, while avoiding a major crisis that would affect both budget and resources?

The answer could be a single tool capable of adjusting to any SAP environment, while also allowing for new apps to cut down on development time and costs.

GeneXus™ is the Rapid Application Development Platform that revolutionizes the software industry by simplifying application development for multiple platforms. GeneXus relies on algorithms and Artificial Intelligence to automatically create and maintain the software that companies need now.

A single GeneXus Developer can automatically generate and maintain all relevant technologies:

● JAVA applications;

● Native Mobile Apps for iOS and Android;

● Responsive Web Applications (HTML5 & CSS3):

● SAP HANA DB;

● Fiori Apps.

GeneXus for SAP is the lastest GeneXus solution, specifically designed for SAP environments, that provides a certified integration to SAP ERP through standard and custom BAPIS. It also enables simplified integration to third-party data providers and deployment to SAP Cloud Platform, On-Premise & Hybrid configurations.

GeneXus for SAP® Systems helps companies in extending SAP systems expeditiously in a cost-effectively manner, while also reducing the time and resources required to market new products.

Significant Advantages for Migrating to the SAP Cloud Platform

There are many IT executives working on SAP ecosystems — many who would like to just leverage their existing ABAP staff to take on the transition. After all, SAP is SAP, and who knows SAP better than the ABAP developer?

The problem is that many ABAP developers are not duly prepared for that transition. Of course, this does not mean that they cannot ramp up if properly motivated. What’s important to note, however, is that many of these technologies come with quite a learning curve. For example, just consider what it would take for your typical ABAP developer to come up to speed with SAPUI5/Fiori.

To start with, this resource would have to learn JavaScript. And this is not the JavaScript used in the early 2000s for validating forms and so on. In order to understand SAPUI5 SDK, you must know a LOT about OO in JavaScript (different as night and day, for instance, from ABAP Objects), in addition to asynchronous programming & promises, closures, and much more.

Once a foundation in JavaScript is built, the developer is then ready to learn to build web applications in UI5. This requires roughly the same amount of time necessary for developers to learn Web Dynpro ABAP, if not more.

For those aspiring to be a full-stack developer, there is also the need to learn about RESTful services in general, in addition to the OData protocol. In the case of ABAP developers who haven’t done much in the way of web development so far (and Web Dynpro doesn’t really count here), they might also need to spend some time understanding how HTTP works as well.

The OData learning exercise must be supplemented with some in-depth study on SAP Gateway technology.

Everything said and done, it approximately comes down to, at least, one year’s time of learning for typical developers. There are similar learning curves for developers getting started on building cloud-native apps on SAP CP or full-scale analytic apps on native HANA.

Besides the time, money and resources required, there is a constant, competitive threat to companies that do not embrace new alternatives or innovate quickly enough.

GeneXus offers a single platform that manages all these environments, with an intuitive approach, and for significantly reduced costs (in terms of money, time and resources).

Technology is a domain under permanent evolution, and SAP is typically a highly specialized platform. It is prudent to use a platform that not only automates software development processes for web applications and native mobile applications, but that also continuously incorporates the latest technology and trends into existing digital assets. GeneXus for SAP was particularly designed to reduce development time and shorten the time to market for innovative solutions in SAP environment. It takes into account the key issues regarding knowledge about new programming languages and databases.

The Outcome of numerous surveys made on a wide range of firms using GeneXus as their development platform has revealed the advantages of GeneXus. On overage, GeneXus’s clients have reported:

a) a 70% reduction in learning time for the adoption of new technologies;

b) a 50% reduction in software development time;

c) a 50% reduction in software system delivery time; and

d) a 61% reduction in cloud deployment time.

When it comes to the development of apps using GeneXus, key performance indicators for IT departments may be leveraged to the benefit of business objectives. Another advantage is that the GeneXus solution is basically agnostic to most programming languages, and this results, in the long term, aids companies in protecting their IT investments and digital assets.

In sum, GeneXus is the tool that helps SAP clients and partners in their migration to SAP Cloud Platform with a lower investment in development and shorter development cycles. That’s a win-win for everyone!

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