It’s close to 4 years since SAP removed licensing fees from Fiori thus making it easier for its customers to modernize their business application user experience. At the time the de-facto way of implementing Fiori was installing the applications on SAP Gateway. This works fine if employees are working inside the corporate firewall (on-premise), or they don’t need to access the applications while on the go.
Once the need arises to provide external access to SAP, things start to become complicated. Firewall ports would need to be opened to provide external access, secure authentication and SSO would still be preferred, support for any device would be a must etc. In practice getting all the setup tasks solved takes effort and collaboration and still they might only be working from that one solution’s perspective. When some other unit inside the company starts to develop another application with possibly another vendor, some or all the redundant tasks in setting up and configuring the environment might end up being repeated.
How Fiori Cloud helps
SAP Fiori Cloud helps with issues related to on-premise solution. Sure, setting up the environment is still needed and it probably takes similar amount of effort as setting up an on-premise Gateway. However, once technical setup is done other applications can use the same setup and risk of reinventing the wheel is much lower. Fiori applications can also be accessed anywhere and anytime with any device. Fiori Cloud is automatically kept up-to-date, so new features can be utilized as soon as they arrive. And with proper development practices, there’s no need to fear automatic updates as SAPUI5, the technology behind Fiori, is backward compatible.
Collaboration between developers is easier in SAP Cloud with the tools it provides, namely SAP WebIDE and GIT version control. These tools help making development of solutions more productive, e.g. with faster development iterations. But the most helpful feature of these tools is that they allow streamlining and standardizing the Fiori development tasks making it easier to on-board new developers and support. However, tools are not the end, so it’s good to keep in mind that architecture and development guidelines are still needed.
SAP Cloud is not only restricted to Fiori but it can be used for various corporate use cases ranging from input of data into SAP to integration of 3rd party systems to a partner collaboration portal. SAP Cloud is not restricted to only Fiori or SAP solutions but any Java or HTML5 applications can be run there (or the other way around, apps developed for SAP Cloud, can be migrated to let’s say Amazon Cloud). With the coming of Cloud Foundry, there is even the possibility to bring your own programming languages to the Cloud. In my opinion, SAP Cloud is the first single point-of-entry solution from SAP that can effectively be used as a platform for internal and partner collaboration.
Pricing and licensing is one common question from customers related to SAP (Fiori) Cloud. Fiori Cloud provides a restricted set of features of SAP Cloud. With Fiori Cloud, you cannot really save application data or run “backend” code in the Cloud but you can install and run Fiori applications and their on-premise backends. Fiori Cloud is cheaper than the full set of SAP Cloud features, so it can be used as a more cost-effective way of proofing how Cloud solutions can help your company. And with Fiori, there should be plenty of use-cases in a company that provide immediate savings and other benefits if they can be accessed easily anywhere and anytime.
Still, it wouldn’t be SAP if a few words of warning wouldn’t be needed regarding licensing. Indirect licensing fees cannot be avoided with Fiori Cloud meaning that any user using the application that accesses SAP data usually need their own license. SAP may provide other licensing concepts such as licensing based on how many documents are created in an order-to-cash process but these need to agreed on a case-by-case basis. Licensing Cloud products is one area where SAP still has a lot of work to do before customers can really start to benefit from its Cloud. Anyhow, with Fiori Cloud there already is a cost-effective way to get tangible benefits from cloud.
In summary, here are the recommended steps on an SAP Cloud journey:
- Find a repetitive task or couple tasks that are done by more than a few users in the company but not by most of the employees. Good example is creating notifications. Implement Fiori app(s) for the task(s). The goal is to get tangible results already from this step. Fiori app(s) can be done on on-premise Gateway if you already have it or directly into Fiori Cloud
- If not already done, Setup Fiori Cloud and migrate Fiori app(s) there. Start with a simpler setup from licensing perspective. You can always add additional features or subscriptions when needed.
- Create guidelines for Fiori development
- Implement additional Fiori solutions with more users and with bigger scope. Here you should start to consider solutions where groups of users can get rid of SAP GUI and start accessing SAP only from Fiori Cloud
- Increase the scope of applications in the Cloud to fully benefit from the platform. There are endless potential ways to expand in the Cloud: Java applications, persisting data in the Cloud, prototyping with SAP Leonardo (IoT, Machine Learning, Big Data), Cloud integration, partner collaboration portals