What is the best way to take the first step toward learning about SAP? I have developed in C/C++ for about 10 years,...
mostly associated with data logging. Recently, I have been doing relational database programming at a small company, using 4th Dimension. I have knowledge of Java and authored a book on it in 1997: http://halljava.com/java/javabeans/29.shtml But I regard myself as having more real-world experience with C/C++, and now 4th dimension. I imagine many inductees in the SAP world start with a hands-on development project they are offered. Would a book or tutorial be a good first step? Are any of my relational database skills applicable? I read a lot about the stability of employment for those with knowledge of SAP and enjoy learning more about business systems.
First of all, there's no area within IT, SAP included, that offers "stability of employment" right now. Having said that, the more "mission critical" your skills are, the better off you are. SAP and other ERP programs offer the chance to enhance your technical skills while working on enterprise-level technologies. Think about a Java programmer - not all Java programmers are created equal. Doesn't it make sense that the Java programmer who designs web sites from home would be less marketable than the Java programmer who can handle the pressure of integrating an SAP and a Siebel instance for a multi-national corporation? So that's an argument for pursuing enterprise software programming opportunities such as those in SAP. But don't assume that once you get there, you'll enjoy great stability. Until the economy picks up, things are going to be a bit scrappy. As for where to go with your programming skills, I've written on this topic before, so you may want to take a look at some of my previous Q&A's. Your job is to expand your C++ skills into areas that are more relevant within SAP environments. That means either getting some ABAP exposure or some more Java-related skills. The key here is to obtain hands on project experience that begins to line your skills up with those of the SAP programmer. Your best entry point might be through web-based programming opportunities in Java and XML. Even if you aren't using these skills in an SAP environment, just acquiring (and updating) these skills would bring you closer to where SAP is headed. As I've said before, if you're not in SAP yet, it's almost better to try to anticipate where SAP is going and "intersect" with SAP sometime in the future. That would mean heading in the direction of web-based programming. Your object-oriented background gives you a nice base to draw on, but you still have some work to do to make your skills relevant to SAP. And yes, any books, training, and research you undertake will help you toward that goal. As for relational database skills, those are useful within SAP too, but that would send you into the systems administration area - you're probably better off sticking with the core expertise in programming you've worked hard to build up.
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