Developing in SAP S/4HANA: what’s new?

Feb 06, 2017

Every department is turning into an IT department. Whether you like it or not, it is increasingly true. Over the last couple of years, organizations have invested heavily in apps for business users, giving them far more access to systems and tools than ever before. That is why user experience has become a much bigger priority as well. The way in which organizations equip their employees with user-friendly mobile apps will most likely become an important differentiator to attract and retain talented people. But how can organizations live up to these expectations? And how can development be optimized in an environment such as SAP S/4HANA?

Getting the most out of Core Data Services (CDS)

It all starts with the choice you make between an on-premise or a cloud implementation. Whilst the cloud solution offers little room for customization, the on-premise version does offer full flexibility to develop new functionality. However, while all the existing developments from the traditional ERP remain operational, things have changed in S/4HANA. On the data modeling side, for example, instead of building full custom reports, SAP now pushes its extended Core Data Services (CDS). CDS views are more or less the successor of HANA Live but they run through the ABAP stack and are much more powerful, since they eliminate – amongst other things – the need for complex programming.

As well as being SAP’s standard database view, you can also utilize CDS for reporting, making it possible to reuse your unified data model for reporting purposes, including embedded authorizations, aggregations and much more. Other pros are the fact that users and authorizations can be managed in one single layer and that CDS allows you to exploit the full potential of SAP HANA database technology to be exploited.

Towards the cloud with Fiori

For the actual development of new apps in your on-premise S/4HANA environment, Fiori apps use all the opportunities delivered by SAP HANA to offer advantages on multiple levels. One of the main benefits is that Fiori apps are HTML5 applications that can easily be moved to the cloud. Traditional SAP GUI interactions or applications cannot run on the SAP HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) since they are fully ABAP dependent. So, in fact, what’s happening is that we have finally split the front end from back-end logic.

To build and distribute new apps, including non-SAP-based ones, HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) is definitely the place to be. HCP is ideally equipped for the development of mobile apps – apps that allow customers, suppliers or partners to log on, or apps that need to be integrated with solutions such as SuccessFactors or C4C. As SAP’s Platform-as-a-Service offering, HCP is also the perfect environment to host non-ERP HTML5 applications that must be connected into the core ERP of your organization. Furthermore, HCP also provides access to SAP HANA for those customers who don’t yet have an on-premise SAP HANA database.

Exploring new opportunities

So what does all this mean for your business? Basically, it means that the opportunities have increased dramatically. Reporting needs are no longer restricted to traditional ABAP reports. One of the main advantages of S/4HANA is that business users are guided to the insights they are looking for in a much more natural and user-friendly way. So let your mind wander more freely when thinking about relevant apps for your organization and start with the new development possibilities today!
Author: Tim Leys. You can follow Tim on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn.