SAP ByDesign SDK – A River runs through it

As 2010 is drawing to a close it’s probably a good point in time to take stock on SAP’s Business ByDesign SDK. For those who are not privy to the topic: SAP’s cloud-based ERP offering for the small and medium sized enterprise called “Business ByDesign” (BYD) is extendable by a software development kit (SDK). Said SDK was introduced at 2010 SAP TechEd conference and participants were able to gain some hands-on experience with an early release of the toolkit. More insights and a thorough review of the SDK can be found here.

What’s good for SAP’s River isn’t necessarily good for BYD’s SDK

Yesterday’s Twitter post by Ethan Jewett struck me:

His last sentence was clearly aimed at the new C#-like language that SAP has introduced to allow third parties (so-called “solution partners”) to develop BYD extensions and add-ons. Whether or not this was a good idea is open to debate. In the end, only time will tell. However it is surprising to see that another cloud-based development platform by SAP has chosen a different route by allowing business logic to be developed in Javascript (which was one of my initial ideas in the BYD SDK post I mentioned earlier). So in contrast, SAP’s River development team leverages the vast amount of Javascript expertise on the planet.

No BYD Store (yet)

All add-ons for BYD are supposed to be delivered by an App Store like infrastructure, from where BYD customers can directly deploy the solution they’ve chosen for their core system. At TechEd in Berlin it was mentioned that the store would be up and running by end of 2010, but nothing has been announced as such yet. Back in October I was under the impression that a Q4 deadline was pretty ambitious for a BYD Store, so I’m not too surprised.

Community is good, Partners are better

At the TechEd 2010 Press Conference I asked the SAP panel whether or not a larger community was approached to help the BYD SDK to gain momentum. I thought the fact that BYD SDK is based on C# and uses MS Visual Studio as its development environment would be a perfect shoe-in for a large part of Microsoft’s C# community. Back then, the gist of the answer from SAP was that a more exclusive partner programme is the preferred way forward. Such a programme will also come with an entrance barrier attached to it, basically a monetary entrance ticket to the world of BYD add-on development. While such a partner price tag is not unheard of in the enterprise application space, it is clear that a higher fee will be hard to swallow for small, flexible software outlets and freelancers. Moreover, a move such as this would be even more surprising given the fact that SAP has been harping on about “Innovation” since SAPPHIRE NOW 2010. A final decision on entrance barriers for the solution partner programme has (officially) still not been made.

In addition, it appears that SAP is banking on consulting partners from the tried-and-tested On Premise world. A lot of noise was made at the recent SAP Influencer Summit about the fact that Accenture will become a BYD solution partner. Question here is whether this will really be the kind of inspired breakthrough in the consulting business that customers want to see (more agile approaches, shorter implementation, virtual consulting, less consulting overhead) or if it’s just a sign that the real aim is to deliver the same-old-same-old at equally high rates. A major point here will be the flexibility that bigger consulting players have got to offer. Or as a spectator in the SAP space commented in a conversation with me: “If you can’t play you can’t innovate”.

BYD UI question needs to be solved mid-term

SAP could also have problems on its hands with regards to the Silverlight UI that was chosen for BYD. Microsoft recently shifted Silverlight’s focus to the Windows Mobile world, which will have implications in the mid-term for SAP’s UI strategy for BYD. My take is that BYD’s external APIs could play a significant role for smaller consultancies that snub a potentially pricey partner programme and innovate “on the fringes” of BYD.

2011 Outlook

In 2011, SAP has to deliver a lot on its various promises (HANA, mobile, BYD, River, to mention a few). With a new conference concept (2 SAPPHIRE NOWs, May 2011 in Orlando, then November 2011 in Madrid for a combined SAPPHIRE / TechEd) the Walldorf concern certainly doesn’t shy away from the limelight. We are in for an exciting twelve months ahead.

2 thoughts on “SAP ByDesign SDK – A River runs through it

  1. Drew Preston

    April 6, 2011 at 3:50pm

    It’s interesting how difficult it is to find detailed information on the SDK. Do you have any pointers to further detailed information from a developer perspective?

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