I have 6+ years of ABAP development experience but have not had any experience working with the Web/Java side of things (either in or outside of SAP). I now have the opportunity to expand my programming skills to J2EE or to get into SAP XI. Opportunities for entering other SAP Business Suite products may also be available.
Having no knowledge of J2EE or Basis, would I be able to make a switch into SAP XI? I'd like to "build" on my current knowledge base (ABAP), but would also like to broaden my experience to non-programming areas. Is XI a logical switch for me? If not, is there any other combination of ABAP and Enterprise Business Suite that you would recommend?
You have a lot of interesting career options. I can't tell if you actually have these different job offers in hand, but all the directions you've cited above are viable. And while you present them as very different, in many ways, they all lead down the same path: towards the NetWeaver technical platform. mySAP Business Suite is built on NetWeaver, and XI is a key NetWeaver component. J2EE development is possible within NetWeaver, as is ABAP development. So, do you see that these roads converge more than you think? If you have the opportunity to get any of these skills, in a hands-on capacity, on an actual SAP project, then you're ahead of many consultants and you shouldn't worry too much about finding your ultimate niche in NetWeaver yet. NetWeaver is still a very young platform, so for now, just getting your feet wet and learning the overall strategy is going to serve you well. Down the line, you can gravitate towards the most marketable niches. I would caution you, however, against jumping into a narrow niche too soon. For example, while SAP XI is an evolution of a number of SAP technologies, it's still largely unproven in large production settings. It's wise to wait until more users embrace XI before putting all your eggs in that basket. Sure, get an XI project under your belt, but be careful about going too far into a proprietary software technology before it is more widely adopted. In some ways, learning more about J2EE within NetWeaver seems appealing, because J2EE skills have proven value outside of SAP, and the J2EE development environment is already proven. But at this point, if you really do have access to the kinds of projects you write about, I would worry less about which one to choose and just be glad you're in a position to gain these new skills before other consultants do. Just dive in and learn as much as you can.