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ZProgramming (custom development) is a mechanism to provide tailor-made add-ons to the standard portfolio of software.  It is about designing an end to end solution extension ,above and beyond the basic functionality, to fit the exact needs of the business.

When I started my career working with SAP, I found that  that ZProgramming was considered to be an awful thing. Yet,  I constantly ran into situations where critical business processes could not be handled without an enhancement, customization or add-on to existing SAP back-ends. Nonetheless, it was very painful to assess, develop, change and maintain applications that used custom coding.

I remember consulting with a utility company to enhance their coding block to handle location codes for the regulatory reporting of their newly acquired company . Although it was an available customizable functionality in SAP ERP,  we needed to spend significant amount of effort in assessing the system impacts  for this change . I also worked with a manufacturing firm where we needed to create customized applications to simplify & mobilize their plant maintenance  processes.

Through these experiences, I learned that it was quite complicated to initiate, execute, integrate and test these custom applications without the risk of changing what was already working. Every time the business evolved, we had to go through a very painful and  stressful process to extend new
functionalities to  support these business needs.

Today, extending new functionalities has evolved way beyond just ZProgramming. Now, we need  to add "fully functioning  & integrated software add-ons " such as mobility, big data,  analytics, the internet of things(IoT)  etc. to the basic portfolio of software.

To do the customized development of new age, we need an all-inclusive "build platform" to innovate and extend new business functions without impacting current staff capacity, systems and existing projects.

HANA cloud platform(HCP) is the new home for ZProgramming of today's age.  HCP helps us keep up with  the demands of today's fast changing business.
It helps us to quickly and easily add minor or major capabilities to the basic software portfolio.

Here are a few high value use cases that illustrate the effectiveness of HCP for customizing business functions:

  • Building a brand new application that involves a new field or information that doesn't even exist in your backend systems & databases.  You can simply build this application on HCP by using the HANA DB available on HCP. This approach would eliminate the need to make convoluted changes in the backend  databases  or the need to setup on-premise infrastructure.
  • Wanting to quickly mobilize an existing process that crosses heterogeneous back-ends. Traditionally, we would have to spend tremendous amount of time in assessing , installing and configuring the new add-ons . With HCP, you can do this by utilizing pre-configured mobile services
    that connect with any back-ends in just a few straightforward steps.  There is no impact on current systems and resources.
  • Using HCP as a system integration tool, you can build a connector/adapter in the cloud to connect  different types of on-premise
    systems and cloud platforms.  These integrations can fit any type of backends such as:
    • SAP-to-SAP
    • SAP-to-Non-SAP
    • Non SAP- to Non-SAP
  • Building a new user experience for a complex process, you can use the WebIDE component  available in HCP and enable preconfigured UI templates to simplify the user experience of your business processes in just a matter of a few hours.
  • Internet of Things (IoT): IoT scenarios involve managing the different devices, processing and storing of large of amounts of information generated in IoT scenarios. HCP  is pre-enabled with analysis tools, aggregation capabilities, database persistence, and integration capabilities. The IoT enablement on HANA  involves device control, data processing and alert management. It gives us all the possibilities to do things such as spatial capabilities, text analysis, text mining, business rules and many more.

If you are an SAP customer who hasn't yet experienced HCP, I encourage you to do so now . The platform is very well documented and there are many inexpensive & low risk options for you to get started now. Simply go to:  and start a free developer trial. There are also many  pre-packaged business apps available on SAP HANA app center  that you can enable  within your organization. Or you can build your own apps  using the  pre-configured build components available on HCP (at a very low cost) .

Have you leveraged HCP in your solutions yet?  What kind of frameworks and accelerators did you leverage? I would love to meet with you and  demonstrate a framework to help you discover the use-cases for getting started with HCP.

About the author: sana.salam

Sana Salam is the president and founder of Sodales Solutions - an award winning SAP certified partner specialized in Enterprise Mobility, User Experience and Big Data solutions. Before starting Sodales, Sana worked as a turnaround project manager where she revived derailed IT projects that suffered from complexity. Sana's inspiration behind Sodales was to help enterprises simplify their business by humanizing the meaning of technology. Her firm uses SAP's innovative technologies and user experience methods to solve business complexities with design thinking framework. As a winner of the SAP Mobile Apps Challenge for Microsoft Windows 8 , the winner of SAP Google Apps challenge and the first SAP partner to certify a Fiori app, Sana has a unique perspective to offer to companies who are looking to simplify their business.

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