SAP has more than 1,500 applications and services, and with the emergence of SAP HANA as an in-memory computing platform, the company plans to expand its application portfolio even more. The challenge is figuring out how to make it easier for developers to integrate all those applications.
To meet that challenge, SAP is in in the process of developing its own API gateway. The enterprise applications provider is in the process of re-engineering an existing gateway for its ERP applications in a way that will create SAP’s first API management platform, says Vishal Sikka, a member of the SAP executive board that also oversees technology and innovation.
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At one point SAP explored the idea of creating one single set of APIs for its applications portfolio, but the company has scrapped that idea in favor of providing a single mechanism through which is portfolio of applications will become more accessible to developers, Sikka says.
Right now SAP supports a range of APIs ranging from its SuccessFactors software-as-a-service (SaaS) application to the API that the company exposes on HANA. At the same time, the company has other offerings such as Ariba where there is no API.
Sikka says the API gateway will eventually provide unified access to the entire portfolio of existing and new applications. That’s important to SAP because with the emergence of HANA as an application development platform, SAP is now working with more than 1,000 startup companies to build applications on HANA.
Part of the attraction of working with the SAP platform is the assumption that integration with the rest of the SAP portfolio would be greatly simplified. Right now SAP has 15 people in Silicon Valley dedicated to working with startups that want to use HANA as a platform to develop applications. SAP says it will support this endeavor regardless of whether those applications compete with anything in the SAP application portfolio.
The gateway technology that SAP has in place, is already being used by more than 7,000 customers to access SAP’s core ERP applications, says Sikka. The goal is extend the reach of that gateway to include support for everything from the company’s Jam social networking software to the suite of SAP BusinessObjects analytics applications the company offers.
As SAP increasingly is seen as a provider of a platform, the relationship between the company and third-party software developers is clearly evolving. The API management gateway should be a significant step toward simplifying the way developers go about integrating with SAP applications, which should make it easier for SAP integrators to participate in the larger API economy.
Hopefully, it will also represent a major step forward in terms of eliminating the need for a lot of the more arcane integration technologies that SAP has developed over the past two decades.