Microservices Provide Competitive Advantage without Heavy SAP Customization
As we strive to create greater efficiency and profitability in the Consumer Industries, we find ourselves breaking down the big picture to the granular level of individual processes. This helps us find easily identifiable and actionable areas for improvement. Instead of saying, for example, “we need to reach our customers” it becomes “how can we improve the way we reach our customers via social media.”
In technology, that’s the idea behind microservices, which pull out individual pieces of a larger system, build it using the latest development capabilities, and create a smaller, intensely focused solution that can improve an individual process. Each microservice contributes certain functionality to the overall application and interacts with other microservices as well as external services.
SAP offers the ability the add microservices to your existing system via the SAP Cloud Platform (SCP). Through SCP and its integrations, you can tap into the latest and greatest technology to build microservice applications and target your most value-added processes.
Microservices vs. ABAP Enhancements
Traditionally, customizations to SAP systems are done via ABAP enhancements. As systems age, and these enhancements are continuously added, they begin to create a challenging environment when it comes to adaptability and upgradeability. As customers have adopted SAP S/4HANA, we’ve seen a tendency to go as standardized as possible, in order to avoid building more and more ABAP customizations.
Microservices are loosely coupled to the overall system, not inherently ingrained like an ABAP customization. Instead of being an added layer to the SAP system, a microservice acts a self-contained function that can feature specific interfaces to complete an individual process. It is lightweight and allows for the use of better UI and underlying technology without the implementation of an entirely new system—or without creating changes in your system that may cause headaches in the future.
The nature of the lightweight microservice allows for it to be more easily maintained for compatibility with new processes and new systems. It is also more flexible for implementing custom logic. Conversely, ABAP customizations create an ever-growing monolith that becomes harder and harder to maintain.
Benefits of Microservices
By virtue of a microservice’s specialized nature, it can be used to target areas that create the greatest competitive advantage for your business. Take, for example, an opportunity for an efficiency gain with how your suppliers on-board new items. Rather than searching for a new, broader reaching solution that meets the requirement, you can add on a microservice that is tailored specifically to the process you are trying to achieve, and in turn create that advantage you were seeking at a much faster pace without inserting invasive code into the existing application(s).
Microservice flexibility also means that companies can more quickly react to drastic changes when needed. Perhaps there is a new regulation that needs to be implemented (e.g., a new ecological fee, a change to import regulations)—build a microservice. These microservices can be implemented while still maintaining and not directly impacting your central system of record, such as SAP S/4HANA, as the backbone of your day-in, day-out, stock-standard processes.
Why SCP for Microservices?
There are several development platforms out there—Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure. What benefit is there to using SAP Cloud Platform to develop microservices for SAP systems?
The obvious answer is integration. Any development platform worth its salt will have access to the latest open-source technologies such as Cloud Foundry for building applications. While having the technological tools you need to develop, SAP Cloud Platform will also always have robust integration into SAP software. That includes SAP services that build a bridge between the custom cloud-based code used to build the microservice and your ERP system—whether it is on-premise or in the cloud.
To learn more about building microservices and how they can help you improve your processes, contact Rizing.