A Lab in the Cloud

Photo: iStockphoto

Since its announcement under codename “SAP Neo” at SAP TechEd Madrid in 2011, customers, partners, and product development teams have gotten a glimpse of the power of SAP HANA Cloud. Here are just a few examples: SAP Precision Retailing is one of SAP’s first products released on the platform, and T-Systems, SAP, and the Hamburg Port Authority have developed the solution prototype “Smart Port Logistics.”

With SAP HANA Cloud, SAP is targeting new enterprise development scenarios in the cloud and offers services that are targeted at developers – those familiar with SAP as well as those new to its ecosystem. From the beginning, the focus has been on three aspects: openness, delivering a great developer experience, and attracting developers.

SAP HANA Cloud Labs is born

It wasn’t long after the introduction of SAP HANA Cloud that teams within SAP started to build applications or their own technical extensions for SAP HANA Cloud and enhance its set of tools. At the time, there was no dedicated channel for sharing these extensions and tools with the developer community inside and outside SAP, but these teams simply started engaging with the SAP community.

Next page: Rapid application development

After several promising discussions, the idea of SAP HANA Cloud Labs was born: a dedicated channel to co-innovate on ideas for extending SAP HANA Cloud and enhancing the developer experience, and a co-innovation channel from developers for developers. Lars Karg from the Enterprise Platforms team and Matthias Steiner from the SAP HANA Cloud team immediately started building the so-called SAP HANA Cloud Labs ‘airplane’, a metaphor used to describe the vehicle for reaching SAP’s ecosystem.

Six months later, on June 22, 2012, the ‘plane’ took off, carrying the first four pieces of ‘luggage’, each piece representing an idea from the developer community. These ideas technically extend SAP HANA Cloud and/or improve its tool set. Most importantly, they have the potential to make a difference and to drive the developer experience. Less than four months later and together with the general availability of SAP HANA Cloud at TechEd in Las Vegas, the ‘plane’ was ready for ‘boarding’ by SAP’s wider community.

Rapid application development

The first piece of ‘luggage shared’ with the developer community was a set of add-ons extending the Rapid Application Development (RAD) framework “Spring Roo” designed to kick-start web application development on SAP HANA Cloud. The add-ons were developed by Michael Spahn, Radu Atanasiu, and Heiko Witteborg from the Enterprise Platforms team.

Next page: Openness thanks to Open Source

Using Roo and the group’s add-ons, it is possible to create a basic web application with persistence and a user interface in a few minutes and directly deploy it to SAP HANA Cloud. “You can even easily integrate data from OData providers like SAP Gateway or pass data to mobile apps via JSON interfaces – everything out of the box,” explains Michael Spahn. Roo generates 100% pure Java code, packaged as a standard Maven project, so that it is easy to handle and build. “All you have to do is import the generated source in your favorite IDE like Eclipse and start extending it. Give it a try – it’s easy and fun,” Spahn states.

Openness thanks to Open Source

Harald Müller, chief product owner, SAP HANA Cloud, says: “One great thing about the SAP HANA Cloud Labs ‘plane’ is that all ‘luggage’ is freely available under open source license.” This allows the community to easily try it out, provide feedback, and even contribute to the project. “Feedback and all kinds of contributions are welcome, because they help to co-innovate and directly involve the community to streamline new approaches, ideas, and tools with requirements and cool ideas of the community,” he adds.


More information: SAP HANA Cloud Development Center.