Sunday, February 08, 2015

SAP S/4

Last week SAP released S/4, the evolution of their most important product the R/3.

I think this is a good occasion to talk about what makes SAP a successful software. Does S/4 have the magic ingredient that made R/3 so successful? So why was R/3 a success?

When I started working with R/3 I was very impressed with the development environment, the tools in SAPGUI to develop the code running in the server, and how easy it was to start debugging a running program. At that time I thought SAP was great because it was based on this flexible development platform.

But of course some time later I realized it was not the platform. The ABAP language is a pain and lacks in many areas, for example it is quite bad for numerical algorithms. Concurrency is not very efficient, the web layer is slow and the many web frameworks are obsolete even before having some real adoption. Forget it, it was not the platform.

What is really cool in SAP is the applications, having so many applications, for so many areas, industries and processes. But usability is bad, performance also not so good, and there are so many custom applications in SAP projects that something must be wrong with what comes out-of-the-box.

The applications helped a lot, but something else was very important in R/3, the expensive price tag. I'm not joking here, a very expensive price is a powerful feature. When a software costs 1k either it works or it will be scrapped, no client will pay 10k or more in consulting time to adjust and integrate the software. But if the software costs 1000k then 100k in consulting is very reasonable. And if out-of-the-box things don't fit well, after 100k of consulting a lot can be done to make the client happy.

Will S/4 will have the R/3 magic? Yes I think we can trust it will be quite expensive ;-)

Monday, October 06, 2014

SAP code base

Hasso Plattner, founder of SAP, is also a teacher in an open online course about in-memory databases. In one of the lessons he mentions experiments done by SAP, that by moving some logic to database stored procedures (math logic as he calls it) it was possible to reduce as much as 80% of the code size in the application server. This is of course one more chapter in the SAP HANA is great story. But I cannot help but comment this from the other point of view. SAP was able to become world leader in enterprise software with up to 80% bloated code base. One more case where "good enough" was the best decision.

Friday, December 06, 2013

More values in SAP domains

Some many years working with the SAP server and it was just recently that I learned it was possible to add more values to standard domains that have a fixed list of values. It is not a big secret, it is just an option in the menu and then it is like append structures in tables.

This was useful to add the missing APO store location 1040 to the CRM domain used in the configuration of location/business partner mapping.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Nice SAPUI5 quick demo (for someone that knows js/html5)

I found this demo from DJ Adams on SAPUI5 very useful. I know some HTML5 but I have yet to dig into the details of SAPUI5 and with this video it was possible for me to get some feeling of this framework. The first impression is not the best. The XML views, the long namespaces and many small files looks a bit like Java coded in JS. 

I still have the feeling that nobody has yet found "the simple way" of doing UI in the browser. Probably it still needs one more iteration of browser core technologies and maybe ideas like polymer-project.org will do it. In any case SAPUI5 is by far the one of the most interesting SAP technologies.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Just fill in the blanks

Reading the SAP source code is always full of surprises. In this case it was in the SCM system, after finding some useful functionality that was not documented, some additional search on how to maintain the values leads to the following procedure.


It feels like the school books, one just needs to fill in the blanks :-)

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