Low code is no replacement for software development, say German-speaking SAP users

'It remains to be seen to what degree of process depth the offer will prove itself in practice'

SAP users have voiced concerns about the German enterprise application vendor's latest "low-code" offering, saying the company had yet to show the level of "process depth" it could demonstrate.

At TechEd last week, SAP introduced SAP Build, the latest iteration of its low-code concept designed to provide an environment to give business users access to end-to-end processes, data and context to build applications within its enterprise software portfolio.

It draws on SAP Business Technology Platform, a piece of middleware that sits between applications in a way the vendor claims will allow users to create and augment enterprise applications, automate processes, and design business sites with "drag-and-drop simplicity."

German-speaking user group DSAG offered its view with CEO Jens Hungershausen and CTO Sebastian Westphal welcoming SAP Build as a solution that could be effective in reducing the shortage of skilled workers in many areas of SAP software development and to reduce the problem of "shadow IT."

But they also expressed reservations. "It must be clear to everyone that this solution is not a replacement for classic software development, and therefore it remains to be seen to what degree of process depth the offer will prove itself in practice," they said in a statement.

The statement said that it was a positive move to allow SAP Build to closely integrate with SAP's core products, existing IT governance and security concepts, and be upgradeable and releasable in the long term. "IT departments must ultimately ensure the operational capability of the entire SAP solutions and every company must be able to provide information on business and IT processes to auditors and accountants at any time."

However, large businesses running enterprise SAP software were still struggling with end-of-life dates for many long-standing solutions. "The SAP roadmaps are still full to bursting here and require prioritized implementation – the new SAP Build offer does not provide a remedy here," said the user group, which represents companies using SAP in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

It also pointed out that SAP Build was biased towards a cloud-first strategy, something users remain skeptical about.

Integration with the cloud-focused Business Technology Platform showed SAP was consistently pursuing the path to the cloud-only world, it said. "From DSAG's point of view, it is a path that is entirely opportune and understandable. However, as one of our last surveys showed, a large number of our member companies are still heavily involved in the on-premise environment."

As well as SAP Build, the vendor has introduce approaches to low-code including AppGyver, a partnership with specialist Mendix and a different SAP technology called Ruum.

Speaking to The Register, Bharat Sandhu, SVP for AI and application development platform at SAP, said low-code had been an evolution for most companies, including SAP. "What we've been very focused on is making sure we can provide really good value for our customers with what all the learnings we've had in the past. And we'll be hearing from customers as we work with them every single day. SAP Build is an evolution of our low-code strategy. What it really does is it brings together our previously disconnected products into one unified development experience."

Within the platform SAP has included enterprise capabilities such as authentication, he said. ®

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