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Enhance Your ROI with SAP River

Build Custom Applications and Turn “Insights into Action”

by Sundararaman Sankaranarayanan and Sudarshan Ranganath Survepalli | insiderPROFILES, Volume 5, Issue 2

April 1, 2014

Find out how the shift in organizational focus toward futuristic systems of engagement can benefit your business. Systems of engagement are accessible on any device, offer real-time insights, integrate with social media, and allow users to quickly build innovative applications. SAP’s release of SAP River, its new integrated development environment, allows users to develop complete SAP HANA back-end applications.


SAP River

Businesses are witnessing possibly the biggest shift in organizational focus from systems of record to futuristic systems of engagement. Systems of engagement are accessible on a user’s device of choice, offer rich content and real-time analytics and insights, integrate with social media, and allow users to build intuitive new applications rapidly. Vendors of enterprise software need to quickly create state-of-the-art offerings that are relevant to the current state of the market — or risk falling behind. From a technology viewpoint, the answer today seems to revolve around software vendors building not just scalable platform-based offerings but also smarter business applications that can run a real-time enterprise.

SAP has answered this challenge with the introduction of SAP HANA — an in-memory computing platform with open standards-based connectivity, for building smart innovative applications that can engage users in real time and over multiple channels.

Now that vendors are beginning to release tools such as these that enable real-time enterprises, IT leaders need to catch up and ensure they have the resources and skills necessary to get these systems of engagement up and running. But because these skills and resources are not always easy to obtain (nor inexpensive), many leaders are struggling to prepare their organizations for real-time processes. And the enterprises are quickly recognizing that there is a need for very simple, user-friendly development platforms that can be self-optimized for advanced in-memory technology.

A New Twist on the Familiar

SAP recently released SAP River, a new integrated development environment based on a highly expressive programming language, SAP River Definition Language, that allows users to rapidly develop complete SAP HANA back-end applications. Similar to ABAP, SAP River Definition Language allows users to design and specify all the elements of a business application — data models, business logic, and access control, for example — within a single, coherent, and integrated program specification. Applications are then cross-compiled to run natively on SAP HANA, and exposed via OData services.

The language syntax is familiar and is fully compatible with existing SAP HANA objects like tables, views, and stored procedures. Once in the SAP River development environment, you can describe entities, relationships, views, and actions, and develop data-intensive applications using SAP River Definition Language on SAP HANA, and consume these generated artifacts from an ABAP system. The SAP River Definition Language and ABAP languages can interoperate to drive synergies and help users build applications rapidly with the “right tool for the right job.”

SAP River is best suited for:

  • Standalone apps. Plug-and-play applications built by independent vendors and resold as apps or templates can come bundled with data models, business logic, and user interfaces. 
  • Extensions of pre-installed SAP HANA apps. New SAP River-based applications can be developed on SAP HANA and leverage the features of already-installed SAP HANA-based applications.
  • Small to medium-sized ERP-based apps. SAP River can be used to extend ERP functionality via native SAP HANA apps that seamlessly read the ERP data models and can process and render them in innovative new ways — especially in SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA scenarios.
  • Big data apps. Highly data-intensive applications can be developed using SAP River to process high volumes of records and produce analytical insights.
SAP River in Action

SAP River thrives as a platform for use cases involving brand-new data models and highly complex data processing from multiple sources. Wipro, an SAP co-innovation partner, has been able to build rich and user-friendly applications, complex real-time dashboards, and computation-intensive solutions by using the SAP River development environment.

Quite recently, Wipro worked with a large high-tech company on a unique assignment that required optimal allocation of channel inventory to its partners’ stores based on market intelligence and historical point-of-sale data. The solution also involved generating a sales forecast and a provision to update the forecast. The biggest challenge was the sheer volume of data and the need for real-time visibility at granular levels. SAP River helped the company harness the sheer processing power of SAP HANA by implementing the program specification optimally on the platform. This is an example of an integrated analytical and transactional application that turns “insights into action” with the click of a button.

Features of SAP River in Real-World Projects
  • Automatic optimization for SAP HANA
  • Extensive prototyping-based development
  • Ability to build on top of existing codebases
  • Next-generation development tools
  • Easier application lifecycle management
Solutions to Your Specific Pain Points

The SAP River rapid application development platform allows users to quickly and easily build applications that directly apply to their specific challenges. There is no need to implement expensive systems or invest in complicated training. Companies that have used SAP River-based native SAP HANA applications are seeing higher developer productivity, shorter development life cycles (15-25%), smaller bills of material, and easier lifecycle management when compared to traditional application development technologies. For more information, visit

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Sundararaman Sankaranarayanan
Sundararaman Sankaranarayanan

Sundararaman Sankaranarayanan ( is a practice head responsible for cutting-edge technologies like SAP HANA, mobility, and cloud, and helps build industry-focused solutions for his clients. In his 17 years of experience with Wipro, he has helped many clients successfully implement SAP-enabled transformations globally.

Sudarshan Ranganath Survepalli
Sudarshan Ranganath Survepalli

Sudarshan Ranganath Survepalli ( leads the technical competency for the SAP HANA practice. His focus is developing custom applications on the SAP HANA platform and providing consultancy for migrating SAP systems to SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA. He is also responsible for Wipro’s SAP River co-development projects with SAP.

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