There is no lack of coders, but there is a lack of developers who understand their work and know how to navigate securely through SAP without needing too many explanations. In SAP, normally the developer tells the consultant how the system works, not the other way round.
For self-study there are several approaches:
To get acquainted with the JEE stack, you can download the SAP JEE engine and the Eclipse based IDE (SAP Developer Studio) from sdn.sap.com for free. You can also download the trial for the EP Portal. There are many tutorials around on the SDN.
However, that will keep you in the orbit around NetWeaver. To touch ground, you need to get ABAP. For this there are three options:
- ABAP Trial: The cheap one: download the ABAP 7.1 Trial from SDN. This has the full IDE and runtime but no business modules; for developers and training it is fully OK; that is like starting with JBOSS and NetBeans, you can do all you want.
- Subscription: If you need a deeper look into NetWeaver there is the SAP Subscription for 2500USD/year; this is the full range of applications including ABAP, JEE and all applications; it also has SAP PI (XI) in it. As a Java guy I recommend to start learning PI, since it is one of the most important modules, has a lot of demand in the markets and will let you approach the SAP-world step-by-step from the interfacing perspective..
- SAP Discovery Server: Finally there is the SAP Discovery Server for approx. 10.000USD; a full features Fujitsu-Siemens-Server with all SAP installed; it is the same as the subscription but includes in addition the hardware and frees you from the tedious installation work, which is especially time-consuming if you need to install the JEE engine.
This was first published in July 2008