S/4HANA extensibility – HANA Cloud Platform Extensions

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.

sap extensibility

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.

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