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SAP HANA development spurred by SAP HANA, express edition, and Web IDE

SAP wants to encourage SAP HANA development and market with the release of SAP HANA, express edition, and the Web IDE extensions to SAP HANA Cloud Platform.

SAP is looking for ways to spur greater adoption of HANA in the enterprise -- and it has unveiled two shiny, new toys designed to do just that.

The company announced the new products for SAP HANA development at its TechEd developers' conference, held Sept. 19 to 23 in Las Vegas. SAP HANA, express edition, is a streamlined and downloadable edition of the SAP HANA in-memory platform, and SAP Web IDE is a rapid development software developer kit (SDK) that sits on SAP HANA Cloud Platform (HCP).

SAP HANA, express edition, is a streamlined version of HANA that anyone can download and run on a PC, laptop or server, said Marie Goodell, vice president of platform marketing for SAP HANA. It's available as a download from the SAP Developer Center site and comes with sets of tutorials, sample code and up to 32 GB of free memory.

Some developers have already begun to do SAP HANA development with the new tool.

"With this new starter SAP HANA, express edition, we have been able to jump-start our development immediately, using our existing personal computers," Jean Safar, chief architect for Calypso Technology Inc., based in San Francisco, said in a press release. "With the preconfigured virtual machine option, it has been really simple to get hands-on experience with in-memory technology and develop our initial version on sample risk-related data sets. Additionally, the availability of flexible upgrade options to full-use editions will help us further experiment and leverage SAP HANA to support our future technology innovation plans."

"The goal is to help a whole new audience get up and running on HANA," Goodell said.

It does not include all of SAP HANA's advanced features, but developers can use it to build prototype applications and upgrade if the application gets deployed as a full-production application.

"It's a very simple environment; you don't have to have an appliance that you've purchased from some big partner. This is a very simple way to get up and running," she said. "It's designed to help grow the HANA developers and developers [who] are building apps that are on top of HANA. It doesn't have to be an SAP application -- it can be your own net-new application."

Web IDE on HANA Cloud Platform targets experienced and citizen developers

SAP is also trying to appeal to developers and nondevelopers with the availability of Web IDE, an SDK for the SAP HANA Cloud Platform, according to Dan Lahl, SAP vice president of product marketing.

For developers, Web IDE allows for the quick creation of new application templates and integrates with other development tools from SAP partners. Developers can use Web IDE offline, and then have any work synchronized back up to HCP. There is also now an added capability that allows developers to create their own HCP Web IDE plug-ins. "Now, you can have one environment for development, for testing [and] for monitoring all available in the Web IDE for HCP," Lahl said. 

The other targets are citizen developers, or line-of-business people who might want to design their own extensions to enterprise applications, Lahl said. To help enable this, SAP launched HANA Cloud Platform, portal service -- an open source resource of cloud portal content, such as apps and site templates that are available on the GitHub community development site. 

"Citizen developers can use wizards to create their own portal extensions and templates, whether doing that as an IDE for their application or as an enterprise developer doing it for their enterprise applications," Lahl said. "The goal is to make it very simple for line-of-business people to extend that portal interface to back-end systems."

SAP also released Build -- an open source, cloud-based prototyping and users' research tool that's designed for business analysts and other nontechnical people. Build includes design wizards and templates that allow users to develop prototype apps and collect user feedback, and then transition this into a working SAP Fiori app using the SAP Web IDE. 

Good moves, but much work needs to be done

SAP is on the right track, but still has a way to go to making HCP a viable platform, said Josh Greenbaum, principle analyst for Enterprise Applications Consulting.

"These are some of the many moves they are making, and desperately need to make, in order to build a developer community around HCP," Greenbaum said. "This really is the No. 1 job that SAP has right now is to make this a viable platform, which means it needs to have an ecosystem. And in order to have an ecosystem, it needs to have quite a number of ways in which it's easy for individuals and companies to develop on HCP."

Greenbaum noted that developers have long been frustrated by the challenges of working with HCP.

"If you're not a native SAP born-and-bred developer with a lot of ABAP [Advanced Business Application Programming] and Basis under your belt, it's not been a no-brainer -- it's been difficult," he said. "This goes a decent distance to knocking down some of those barriers that have made it hard for HCP to fulfill its mission."

It's about time for these to come out, agreed Holger Mueller, vice president and principle analyst with Constellation Research Inc.

"These were a long time coming. SAP needs to make it easier for developers to build on HCP, so IDE is an important step," Mueller said. "And allowing developers to develop locally, then deploy and run in the cloud is equally important, so it's no surprise."

Nevertheless, there is a battle in full swing for the citizen developer space, Mueller continued.

"Graphical programming is back, and the no code-low code promise is getting real, but I'm not sure how well SAP can play here yet," he said. "SAP is a viable option for professional developers, as long as you have to provide code to power something that will run, needs to connect or lives in the SAP ecosystem. Otherwise, it's a tall order for SAP to play, but that's not their immediate goal."

Appealing to citizen developers is a nice idea, but doesn't reflect the reality of enterprise development, Greenbaum said.

"These are worthy goals, but the reality is that that is not the audience that you need to make yourself a legitimate, viable platform player," he said. "You need real developers who wake up in the morning and say, 'I'm going to create the world's best business app, or I'm going to create a startup that's going to create the world's best business app, and HCP is the place I'm going to stage it.' And you just don't have that right now. Citizen-developer [and] business-user fantasies are nice ideas, but they're not the reality right now of what SAP or any platform vendor is doing."

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