How to prepare the arrival of ABAP on SAP Cloud Platform?

Tamas Szirtes |

ABAP in the Cloud:  Making SAP Cloud Platform accessible for ABAP developers

ABAP on SAP Cloud Platform is coming soon – expected in August – making ABAP available as an additional development and runtime environment on the SAP Cloud Platform.

ABAP, the high level programming language created by SAP, has for many years been available only for on premise systems. Now it will be positioned alongside JAVA or Node.js as the development environments to build SAP business applications and extensions in the cloud.

We take a look at what ABAP in the cloud will mean for our customers and for the thousands of ABAP developers out there.

What more can you do with ABAP in the Cloud?

You will be able to create new applications or extensions to your current SAP cloud system on the SAP Cloud Platform and make use of all other services such as Machine Learning, IoT, etc. Opening up ABAP in the cloud will allow customers to future proof their SAP system extensions and evolve more in the cloud.

The opportunity to develop in ABAP within the SAP Cloud Platform opens up further growth for the SAP Cloud Platform itself, because there are so many more ABAP developers in the SAP community.

Extending S/4HANA

SAP ERP and S/4HANA on premise developers have always had the freedom to customise the system at will. With S/4HANA Cloud, the public cloud edition, the customisation capabilities are relatively limited because it’s a SaaS solution. The need for building extensions, now also in ABAP, are big.

At the same time moving to the cloud is about future proofing and we’re not recommending that you delay that process by locking yourself into on premise only solution. With ABAP in the cloud, you will be able to create functionality and extensions for S/4HANA while keeping your on premise systems cleaner. This paves the way for further digital transformation at some point in the near future.

Currently SAP allows customers to develop extensions for S/4HANA and has recently launched the brand new SDK (Software Development Kit), but only for JAVA.

With ABAP in SAP Cloud Platform, customers will be able to build extensions for ABAP-based products such as SAP S/4HANA Cloud as well as develop new cloud applications. ABAP in SAP Cloud Platform is also an option to transform existing ABAP-based custom code or extensions to the cloud.

Allows ABAP developers to move into the cloud

Every SAP customer I can think of has ABAP knowledge, but maybe only 5% have substantial Java. If you look closer at the SAP ecosystem you will discover that Java doesn’t have the same adoption as ABAP.

These ABAP developers have years of solid experience and it is senseless not to benefit from their knowledge. ABAP programming is already a proven environment for enterprise ready business applications and enjoys competitive costs of development. ABAP in SAP Cloud Platform will enable this large ABAP developer community to move into the cloud.

Digging deeper into the development environment

At least in the first release, ABAP in the cloud won’t support micro services architecture. These modular developments would still have to be carried out in Java. Although one might argue that the likelihood of needing this micro services architecture is not so critical in a more predictable business setting. This situation will probably evolve in the coming years, but at least in the beginning, ABAP won’t enable developers to create true cloud native apps.

The reality is that you may have certain limitations on scalable cloud applications, at least initially, but you won’t have restrictions on development capacity because of the sheer numbers of ABAP developers.

The new development is based on the latest ABAP Platform Cloud release which is also used for SAP S/4HANA Cloud. It leverages the multitenant database container technology of SAP HANA. The software stack contains standard technology components familiar from the standalone ABAP application server. It supports the new RESTful programming model including SAP Fiori and Core Data Services (CDS).

SAP Services and APIs are offered according to a new whitelisting approach. In order to ensure secure and stable upgrades of the underlying software stack only whitelisted SAP APIs can be used. Usage of other SAP objects of the underlying software stack will lead to a syntax error.

ABAP in SAP Cloud Platform supports the standard Eclipse-based environment with ABAP Development Tools (ADT). If you try to communicate with the S/4HANA in any other way, even if successful, you will not be supported.

Take homes

  • Despite limitations introducing ABAP in SAP Cloud Platform is a sensible move from SAP and will increase the adoption of their cloud platform, giving so many ABAP developers a lower barrier of entry into the new world of SAP development.
  • ABAP in SAP Cloud Platform will be a service, where you simply subscribe, log in to the portal and request access.
  • ABAP in the cloud will not be identical to what you are already familiar with; there is a lot of technical detail about this topic. Contact us to find out more about how you can prepare.

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