As outlined in the first part in this series, S/4HANA offers different layers of extensibility. In this blog we will discuss use of the HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) to develop side-by-side extensions. First, let’s talk about HCP, which SAP describes as a Platform-as-a-service(PaaS) solution. HCP combines a wide variety of application services that can be used to build applications that are executed inside HCP. SAP makes HCP available to customers using a subscription model and a developer edition is available free of charge.
These application services can be broken into a several major categories: security, portal, mobile, documents, integration and administration. When using HCP for S/4HANA extensions, the mobile services are most commonly used
HCP provides a full-fledged development platform to build applications using the UI5 framework used in Fiori apps. HCP can be used to quickly prototype and deploy Fiori/UI5 applications without installing the required components in the backend S/4HANA system (NetWeaver Gateway, Frontend server). The connection to the backend S/4HANA system can be achieved using open industry-standard interface models like OData. In S/4HANA, access from HCP is limited to whitelisted APIs to ensure stable interfaces during the quarterly push deployment of innovation releases in S/4HANA.
To illustrate what can be done using HCP, itelligence has developed a simple vendor portal (it.vendor-portal) that can be deployed in HCP, managed cloud or on-premise. The solution provides vendors a portal to view upcoming demand for products they supply in real-time, confirm purchase orders and perform other self-service activities. The Fiori-like user interface allows for easy vendor enablement with minimal training.
The solution consists of two different components: an ABAP package that defines the OData model and a frontend package with the UI5 UX components. The ABAP package is deployed in the backend S/4HANA (or SAP ERP) system. The frontend components can either be deployed in an on-premise or managed cloud landscape or using the HANA Cloud Platform.
While Fiori/UI5 apps are a great starting point for HCP extensions, they are not the only possibility. In fact, a promising direction includes easily integrating S/4HANA information with third party content. SAP HCP offers a large set of application services that are rendered with high performance via SAP’s in-memory database, HANA, providing competitive advantage over other public cloud based development platforms like Salesforce’s Force.com. The main difference is that HCP offers a much larger set of application services and is based on SAP HANA, the lightning-fast in-memory database.
For more details about other services not covered in this blog check out hcp.sap.com.
Stay tuned for the next blog when we discuss the in-app extensions in S/4HANA.