I recently had the fun opportunity to join Lucia Subatin as guests on the Google Cloud Platform Podcast hosted by Brian Dorsey and Mark Mirchandani. The discussion started from a different place than what those of you who live in the SAP world might be used to. This first part was intended primarily for audiences that aren’t that familiar with SAP as a company or its products. In fact we started by trying to explain that SAP is the name of the company, not a single product. So often R/3, ERP, or S/4 just gets referred to as SAP; leading to much confusion especially to those just starting in the SAP world.
From there we branched into a discussion of what makes development in the SAP ecosystem different from the rest of the software development industry. My position was that SAP development is rather different because developers here are often required to become deep business experts as well. We often specialize as much in a functional business area or process as much as we do a particular technology or runtime. We also touched on the idea that in the SAP world, backwards compatibility is taken to an extreme seem in few other places of the software industry. In a world where entire applications and approaches are sometimes discarded after only a few years; its not uncommon to run across programs in SAP’s business software that might have been written a few decades ago. This is, of course, both a curse and a blessing.
Finally we focused the discussion on the evolving role of the cloud and its impact on your SAP software environment. The cloud is such a big topic and there are different ways and stages that SAP customers might utilize it. Many begin by just moving their on premise software hosting to a cloud provider. But we talked about emerging approaches like utilizing the cloud for side by side extensions to keep your core software clean (regardless of where it might be running). We also talked about the way that the SAP Cloud Platform is a business technology platform not a low level infrastructure platform. That is what the various hyperscaler partners, like Google Cloud Platform, provide. This loops right back to the beginning of the discussion about the SAP developer focusing as much on business requirements and functionality as individual technologies.
So I’d encourage you to give our discussion a listen and then share your own ideas on these topics. What do you think makes the SAP development ecosystem different from the software industry in general? How do you explain SAP to your friends that might work in software but have only a vague experience with SAP itself? And how do you see your own career or company being impacted by the increasing role of the cloud in the SAP ecosystem?