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What Would You Like to Develop Today?

by Anne Hardy and David Brutman | SAPinsider

January 1, 2012

Software today affects nearly every aspect of our lives, a fact that is shining the spotlight on developers and putting them in an influential position. To further support these developers, SAP has initiated new programs to inspire developers, enable new technology adoption, and facilitate an easy, targeted, and open development experience. In this article, you'll learn more about the first of these programs: the SAP Developer Center.
 

It's a great time to be a software developer. Software affects nearly every aspect of our lives, putting developers in a highly influential position. Redmonk's Stephen O'Grady1 refers to the once underappreciated developer as the new "kingmaker" of our time. Forrester Research notes that organizations are seeking more engineering "rock stars" and are investing in the hiring and on-boarding of engineers.2 Enterprises are increasing their software development costs, acknowledging the need for innovation through new application development. Forrester also points out that mobile development has grown exponentially, with more than three-quarters of enterprises indicating they have or plan to have in-house mobile developers by 2012. And ABI Research predicts that in 2011 alone roughly 29 billion apps will have been downloaded for mobile use.3

In addition, independent developers are more empowered than in years past. With the rise of mobile app stores, developers can now advance their own creative ideas, architect and develop applications, and perform their own marketing, sales, and support as well. This transformation from performing programming to practically becoming mini business owners is occurring across the development community. SAP sees harnessing the momentum of this entrepreneurial movement as a great opportunity to empower developers even more. That's why SAP is launching initiatives that will help developers achieve their technological and business objectives.

Technology at a Tipping Point

SAP is at a unique point in its technology roadmap, giving developers a wealth of new options for their enterprise application environments with innovative technology in areas such as:

  • In-memory. SAP HANA provides a platform to analyze massive quantities of real-time data and produce immediate results from analyses and transactions.
  • Mobility. Sybase Unwired Platform offers an enterprise mobile platform for SAP and non-SAP systems, supporting hybrid device landscapes and a wide range of mobile scenarios. In addition, SAP NetWeaver Gateway extends Sybase Unwired Platform's capabilities for SAP Business Suite integration.
  • Cloud. SAP Business ByDesign and SAP NetWeaver provide a cloud platform for core business applications and extensions.

These technologies not only position SAP at the forefront of the enterprise platform space, but also give developers an unprecedented opportunity to develop innovative applications based on cutting-edge technologies. Engineers with experience developing business applications using existing SAP technologies, such as the ABAP technology platform, are in a great position to develop next-generation applications. To accelerate this innovation, SAP has initiated new programs to inspire developers, enable new technology adoption, and facilitate an easy, targeted, and open development experience. The first of these programs is the SAP Developer Center.4

Explore New Technologies with the SAP Developer Center

SAP conducted a series of interviews with developers and found their most important requirements included easy access to SAP tools, developer-focused documentation, and the ability to test, build, and run the technology. SAP provides a breadth of information through the SAP Community Network, which has evolved to become a vibrant and knowledgeable community for SAP developers.

Within the SAP Community Network, the SAP Developer Center introduces a central place for developers to try out some of SAP's newest technologies. For instance, it is designed to give direct, hands-on access to SAP's in-memory, mobile, and cloud technologies (on a trial basis). The SAP Developer Center focuses on delivering targeted information and assets for application development and is designed to be:

  • Hands-on. It enables access to virtual sandbox development environments.
  • Simple. It was created with a clean design and a clear navigation path to resources (see Figure 1).
  • Guided. It provides users with step-by-step exercises, tutorials, and educational materials.
  • Collaborative. It is designed to engage users through forums and discussion groups, giving them the chance to showcase their own applications.
  • Engaging. It empowers users with more information and access to expert discussions to foster a community dedicated to developers.

The concept for the SAP Developer Center was created in close collaboration with the developer community who embraced the idea at the get-go. The site has already yielded a lot of positive feedback from the developers who have been given a sneak peek. For example, SAP mentor and tech blogger DJ Adams says the site will be a "go-to resource center for building your skills in the new era of SAP's technology platform."

 

Figure 1 — An SAP Developer Center landing page shows the clarity of the user interface

Learn by Playing in the Sandbox

Through the SAP Developer Center, developers are granted access to a sandbox landscape. After completing a registration form, a development instance is created and each developer receives a link to an individual virtual development environment, hosted by a cloud provider, which can remotely connect to SAP systems. Through this sandbox, developers get access to tools, resources, and software that they can test, without having to install any tools or environments on their machines. This includes a complete environment of systems that is closely aligned to the customer's real-life landscape. For example, a developer who would like to test SAP's mobile platform will be provided with pre-installed Sybase Unwired Platform server access, the Sybase Unwired Platform Software Developer Kit, and an SAP ERP system with SAP NetWeaver Gateway connectivity as part of the virtual landscape.

So far, the response to this sandbox tool has been great. Following SAP TechEd Bangalore in October 2011, we opened an SAP HANA sandbox landscape (see Figure 2) to a group of about 500 developers. They were able to instantly play in the sandbox with SAP HANA and reach a dedicated data center capable of housing terabytes of data. Pilot users of the sandbox have already expressed great excitement over the reward of the experience. John Appleby of Bluefin Solutions said, "It is the brainchild of Vishal Sikka and my first reaction is: totally awesome."

The SAP Developer Center will be available at www.sapdevelopercenter.com.

 

Figure 2 — The individual virtual development environment remotely connects to an SAP HANA sandbox system

SAP's Developer Outreach Continues

SAP wants to make its technology more relevant for developers across the spectrum. As people get closer to computing technologies and software, having strong relationships with both internal and external developers will keep SAP current. That's one reason that SAP is also spearheading developer enrichment initiatives, such as SAP InnoJam (see sidebar) and Code Exchange, SAP's code-sharing platform. SAP is also offering a variety of cooperation activities with technology partners and academic institutions.

With an array of tools and enablement programs, this is an opportunity for developers to acquire new knowledge and innovate with SAP technologies and platforms to drive tangible business results. The only question now is, "What application should I develop today?"

         
     

Anne Hardy (anne.hardy@sap.com) leads the evangelization of SAP technologies and platforms. Prior to joining SAP, she was a technology expert for Sophia Euro Lab and spent many years in product development, strategic research, and advanced technology investments with Nortel Networks.

         
     

David Brutman (david.brutman@sap.com) leads the Developer Program at SAP Marketing. Previously, he held positions as a developer, product manager, and product marketer in the UI area, leading to-market products like SAP NetWeaver Gateway, SAP NetWeaver Portal, and Duet Enterprise.

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