SAP this week expanded the scope of the SAP Cloud Platform to include support for the ABAP programming language and made available a beta version of a Kubernetes-as-a-service offering, in effort to update its app development portfolio.
Announced at the SAP TechEd 2018 conference, these two offerings serve as bookends for an evolving SAP strategy that seeks to include organizations that have heavily invested in ABAP over the last 20 years as well as organizations that are shifting toward employing containers to build applications based on a microservices architecture.
Dan Lahl, vice president of product marketing for SAP, said ABAP has been widely employed by more than thousands of SAP customers to build applications using the same language that SAP employed to build its on-premises IT environment. Those applications now can be built or enhanced using an SAP Cloud platform based on a distribution of the open source Cloud Foundry platform-as-as-service (PaaS) environment.
At the same time, Lahl said SAP is working toward hosting its distribution of Cloud Foundry on Kubernetes in addition to making available a Kubernetes-based platform alongside Cloud Foundry. SAP is also leveraging container-based technologies such as Knative and Kubeless to provide access to a serverless computing framework based on Kubernetes. That capability is also in beta.
The SAP Cloud Platform Backend Service for generating application programming interfaces (APIs) is now available in beta, while the SAP Cloud Platform Enterprise Messaging Service—based on technology developed by Solace—is now generally available.
Finally, SAP is making available Cloud Application Programming Model for SAP Cloud Platform, a set of framework, tools, languages and libraries based on best practices defined by SAP. Lahl noted that many of those best practices are based on DevOps methodologies that SAP is helping customers embrace as part of an effort to accelerate application development projects.
Lahl said SAP is, for the moment, focused on modernizing the application development processes of its core developer community. ABAP support, for example, makes it possible to use a venerable programming language that most SAP customers know on a managed instance of the Cloud Foundry PaaS. But the goal is to make SAP Cloud a platform that organizations will use to build applications using multiple programming languages regardless of how many SAP applications they might have running. According to SAP, today there are more than 10,000 customers using SAP Cloud Platform.
It’s not clear to what degree Kubernetes might supplant Cloud Foundry as a major platform for building applications in the enterprise. Lahl contended that by putting Cloud Foundry on top of Kubernetes, SAP now provides one of the richest application development tools on a platform that is rapidly becoming a de facto standard for orchestrating containers.
It may take a while before SAP becomes a dominant provider of a platform for building custom applications. But the one thing that is clear is that SAP these days is focused on a lot more than delivering a set of packaged applications that eliminate the need to build a custom application in the first place.