At a SAP TechEd 2017 conference, SAP today launched a series of initiatives that expand the scope and reach of the company’s cloud ambitions. Starting with making available a public beta release of the SAP Cloud Platform for integrating and building custom applications on the Google Cloud Platform (GCP), to making it possible to employ a variety of approaches to building those applications, SAP is trying to become a provider of platforms for running custom and packaged applications in the cloud.
SAP is also throwing its weight behind an Open API Initiative and becoming a member of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). The SAP Data Hub that SAP launched earlier this week makes extensive use of Kubernetes, the container orchestration engine overseen by the CNCF.
The approaches to developing applications include a mobile development tool based on the SAP Cloud Platform SDK for iOS and a mobile card development kit that can be employed to publish any SAP Fiori launchpad into a wallet-style application on iOS devices. In addition, SAP announced it will resell the low-code application development platform created by Mendix and that it is making available a beta release of the widely used SAP ABAP development environment on the SAP Cloud Platform.
Björn Goerke, SAP Cloud Platform president and chief technology officer for SAP, says SAP now has the broadest level of multi-cloud support because applications can be deployed on GCP, Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), the IBM Cloud and on-premises IT environments.
“No vendor in the market provides our level of scalability and choice,” says Goerke.
SAP also announced the general availability of a software development kit (SDK) for integrating applications with instances of S/4HANA applications running on multiple cloud platforms and is also providing access to SAP Leonardo Blockchain distributed ledger software via an early access program.
SAP also revealed that a SAP Cloud Platform Portal can now be used to integrate SAP applications with a broad range of third-party enterprise content management systems and that there is now an application programming interface that developers can use to programmatically invoke SAP JAM collaboration software.
In terms of analytics, SAP is now moving to make it simpler to discover what analytics have been created inside any organization. A SAP Analytics Hub running on SAP Cloud Platform keeps track of what analytics have been created and makes recommendations on which ones to employ based on a specific use case. SAP has also extended the number of SAP Analytics Cloud application programming interfaces it exposes. SAP has also added support for additional data sources to its Lumira data visualization software and is now also making use of machine learning algorithms to enable organizations to discover existing analytics assets across the enterprise.
Historically, custom code has been injected directly into SAP applications. SAP is now trying to drive as much custom development as possible onto a cloud platform based on an instance of the platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environment developed by the Cloud Foundry Foundation. SAP is also committed to expanding the services it provides via the SAP Cloud Platform by adding support for Kubernetes as a complementary container-as-a-service (CaaS) environment. The more custom code that moves to these platforms, the simpler it becomes for SAP to convince organizations to keep their SAP packaged applications current.
It may take a while for SAP to achieve that separation of concerns. But once it does, the days when organizations are three or more release cycles behind on major SAP application upgrades may be coming to an end.