Here's an insider's view from last week’s SAP Developer Advisory Board two day face-to-face meeting in Miami, USA. Here, the message was loud and clear: SAP's commitment to connect with developers inside and outside the ecosphere is as strong as ever.
In April 2014, I was honoured to be elected to SAP's Developer Advisory Board. We met for a series of sessions over Thursday and Friday last week in Miami, USA. A long way to go for many of us but definitely worth the trip. It was evident from the diverse discussions that not only does SAP take developers seriously, it also recognises that there's an army of folks who may write the odd line of code or declarative configuration but whose main focus is on wiring up pieces of technology and making them work together.
Development and devops
Until a better word comes along, I'm going to wave my arms in the air and use "devops" to describe this sort of activity. Devops, or "developer operations", is traditionally a representation of three related practices: Development, Quality Assurance and Operations.
In the SAP ecosphere especially, if you look at the sets of activities required to wind up and keep the right combination of spinning tops humming in tune, there's also another practice that we need to recognise, and that is the care and attention of systems and services, integrated between cloud and on-premise. I'm thinking particularly of course of the services within, and connected to, the SAP Cloud Platform (née HANA Cloud Platform).
The new kingmakers
In 2013 Stephen O'Grady's book The New Kingmakers was released. The book and the phrase "developers are the new kingmakers" resounded clear and true, waking many up to the reality that programming wasn't like laying bricks or pouring concrete; rather, it was the lifeblood of the virtual structures upon which businesses are built and run, a lifeblood that, if treated like a commodity or as a cost, would start to go off.
The new new kingmakers
So who are the "new new kingmakers"? They're the same folks that they always were - the quiet, often unsung army of people building and maintaining software that both balances and differentiates organisations. But alongside, there are folks that build, but in a different way.
They're the ones that connect up - both physically and virtually - the complex machinery, much like a sound engineer creates the right combination of instruments, and the MIDI-based timing coordination between them. The developers write the music, whereas the engineers, the devops folks, make it possible and get the tracks recorded.
The conversational landscape
SAP is acutely aware there's a landscape in which conversations with the kingmakers need to to take place. That landscape is as varied as the landscape on any planet; flora, fauna, mountains, seas, deserts and everything inbetween. SAP's software and service offering is growing year on year.
Even a single area such as the SAP Cloud Platform has its own diverse language and tech ecosphere, with areas as different as the Cloud Foundry meta-platform (with "BYOL" - bring your own language) and the cloud integration and API management facilities.
SAP's Developer Relations team has already made great strides over the past few years in recognising what the landscape looks like, who and where the kingmakers are, and what they need to remain kingmakers. The team is also very conscious of other organisations' initiatives (such as those from Google, Amazon and the like), how they reach out to the communities, and perhaps critically, how they find, attract and properly welcome net new developers and devops folks alike.
The next decade
With these changes, SAP continues to mature. Moreover SAP is remembering that the people who make businesses work - the new new kingmakers - are more important than ever.
And that makes me very happy.