Reaching out to the new new kingmakers

13 February 2017

DJ Adams

DJ Adams

Principal Consultant & Mobile, UX and Development Centre of Excellence Lead

DJ Adams provides us with an insider's view from last week’s SAP Developer Advisory Board two day face-to-face meeting in Miami, USA. Here, the message was loud and clear: SAP's commitment to connect with developers inside and outside the ecosphere is as strong as ever. 

In April 2014, I was honoured to be elected to SAP's Developer Advisory Board. We met for a series of sessions over Thursday and Friday last week in Miami, USA. A long way to go for many of us but definitely worth the trip. It was evident from the diverse discussions that not only does SAP take developers seriously, it also recognises that there's an army of folks who may write the odd line of code or declarative configuration but whose main focus is on wiring up pieces of technology and making them work together. 

Development and devops 

Until a better word comes along, I'm going to wave my arms in the air and use "devops" to describe this sort of activity. Devops, or "developer operations", is traditionally a representation of three related practices: Development, Quality Assurance and Operations. 

 

In the SAP ecosphere especially, if you look at the sets of activities required to wind up and keep the right combination of spinning tops humming in tune, there's also another practice that we need to recognise, and that is the care and attention of systems and services, integrated between cloud and on-premise. I'm thinking particularly of course of the services within, and connected to, the SAP Cloud Platform (née HANA Cloud Platform). 

The new kingmakers 

In 2013 Stephen O'Grady's book "The New Kingmakers" was released. The book and the phrase "developers are the new kingmakers" resounded clear and true, waking many up to the reality that programming wasn't like laying bricks or pouring concrete; rather, it was the lifeblood of the virtual structures upon which businesses are built and run, a lifeblood that, if treated like a commodity or as a cost, would start to go off.  

The new new kingmakers 

So who are the "new new kingmakers"? They're the same folks that they always were - the quiet, often unsung army of people building and maintaining software that both balances and differentiates organisations. But alongside, there are folks that build, but in a different way.

They're the ones that connect up - both physically and virtually - the complex machinery, much like a sound engineer creates the right combination of instruments, and the MIDI-based timing coordination between them. The developers write the music, whereas the engineers, the devops folks, make it possible and get the tracks recorded. 

The conversational landscape 

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SAP is acutely aware there's a landscape in which conversations with the kingmakers need to to take place. That landscape is as varied as the landscape on any planet; flora, fauna, mountains, seas, deserts and everything inbetween. SAP's software and service offering is growing year on year.

Even a single area such as the SAP Cloud Platform has its own diverse language and tech ecosphere, with areas as different as the Cloud Foundry meta-platform (with "BYOL" - bring your own language) and the cloud integration and API management facilities.  

SAP's Developer Relations team has already made great strides over the past few years in recognising what the landscape looks like, who and where the kingmakers are, and what they need to remain kingmakers. The team is also very conscious of other organisations' initiatives (such as those from Google, Amazon and the like), how they reach out to the communities, and perhaps critically, how they find, attract and properly welcome net new developers and devops folks alike.

The next decade 

SAP has been cultivating and growing technologies for over four decades (and I've been happily embracing some - not all - of them for three of those four decades). If you'd said to folks fifteen years ago that they'd eventually adopt a REST-informed approach to integration, they'd have laughed at you. Similarly, open sourcing a major piece of technology (OpenUI5), and making JavaScript a first class language in the SAP ecosphere - all almost entirely unimaginable only ten years ago.  

With these changes, SAP continues to mature. Moreover SAP is remembering that the people who make businesses work - the new new kingmakers - are more important than ever.  

And that makes me very happy.

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About the author

DJ Adams

Principal Consultant & Mobile, UX and Development Centre of Excellence Lead

DJ Adams is an enterprise architect and open source programmer, author and bread-maker. He has a degree in Latin and Greek (Classics) from the University of London and, despite having been referred to as an alpha geek, can nevertheless tie his own shoelaces and drink beer without spilling it.

He hacks primarily on SAP systems for a living, and has been doing for over 20 years, cutting his teeth modifying SAP applications in S/370 assembler, building real-time interfaces between forklift truck-mounted RF devices and SAP materials and warehouse modules in C (yes, this was pre-MM-MOB and WM-LSR!), and most recently integrating SAP, Ariba, Infor, Siebel, IXOS and PeopleSoft systems with a REST-based ERP business messaging gateway built on an SAP NetWeaver platform and processing tens of thousands of messages per day. Phew!

DJ is an SAP Mentor, and in 2003 helped get the SAP Developer Network (SDN) off the ground. He also spent a year working at SAP Walldorf in the 1990s, and is proud to still have some of his code and ideas in core SAP software.

When not building and integrating systems, he advises enterprises on architecture and integration, from SOA to REST, from pubsub (most recently with Coffeeshop) to messaging and presence, from message queues to webhooks.  DJ has written two books for O'Reilly, on Jabber (XMPP) and Google.