SAPs Development Practices

By Renee Boucher Ferguson  |  Posted 2005-12-08 Print this article Print

Jim Snabe, senior vice president at SAP, talked about the evolution of his divisions industry initiatives that include the creation of new process models and solutions to link companies in different markets. Snabe gave the example of bringing together the automotive industry and chemical industry during the new product development process, which would in turn trigger banking and logistics processes.
"This is a big opportunity for us, moving forward, to try and glue industries together through processes that sit between industries," Snabe said during his keynote address.
"Our first [initiative] is to describe new scenarios, and then [determine] which pieces of industry solutions can we reuse." SAP has 28 industry product portfolios. While Agassi touched on the broader concepts of BPP, Zenke went into the specific development practices his team is utilizing. "The history of SAP is going to 28 industries. [With those in mind] the platform became heavier and heavier. That should not happen again," Zenke said. "Our design principles are: Dont overload the platform, fast execution, performance and reliability, not too complex. We are not forced to push everything into the platform—its not static, its dynamic." Zenkes team also grappled with the definition of a process component, or what exactly a component should contain. To date its boiled down to the virtualization of business processes plus services, with the flexibility to build services. "What is [a process component] and what is not [has been] a really critical part of SAP moving forward over the last 30 years," Zenke said. "[The development of BPP] is the first time in the history of software engineering that we start with a digital mock-up of the product to be created. Its the first time we applied that principle." The first iteration of BPP will include about 30 of SAPs main components, according to Zenke. Roughly 17 to 20 will include integration scenarios with SAPs applications. In terms of defining services, Zenkes team started with process solution maps, defining the end-to-end business processes from the perspective of different industries. "This is not easy," Zenke said. "End-to-end processes go down to a lot of variants." Read more here about SAPs commitment to process integration. The services make up a process repository, available with the first iteration of BPP that will define, not only services, but business processes as well. "What is different that SAP is doing than all other repositories out there?" Zenke said. "Implicitly what we mean [by a service] is a service that is ready to execute. A services definition is fine, but what does it mean? Nothing. You have to rely [on it] that the service does exist, but to fulfill it goes deep into all applications. This is coding." Zenke said SAPs services repository will link a services definition into a process engine, in two different settings: ABAP (Advanced Business Application Programming), SAPs proprietary programming language, and Java. SAP also plans to provide a model-driven user interface with the BPP platform. "We believe UI is a form of flow between systems and user," Agassi said during the press interview. "We have a team that has described that flow in algebra and created flowcharting that calculates the math to a variety of different user experiences. The last time anyone put math on top of an IT concept, it was called SQL. Now were applying that to the user, and to a fundamental UI approach." According to Agassi, the whole IT market has viewed the user interface as the first design principle in application development. "We think its a process first—not UI," Agassi said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis about productivity and business solutions.


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