TechEd: SAP works out details of Leonardo

At its tech conference in Barcelona, SAP demonstrated the progress it had made on its SAP Leonardo strategy. This includes additions to machine learning features and the availability of ABAP as a programming language for SAP Cloud Platform.

And while there is still a number of partners and customers that are not entirely sure about the exact nature of SAP Leonardo and what it is good for, SAP continues to work on the solution's details and is adding features.

One ambition of SAP – quite untypical of the vendor – is its openness towards third-party technology and open standards, e.g. Kubernetes, an open-source container management environment. Openness may help to attract more developers. For PAC, SAP is a challenger in the cloud platforms business, where it competes against heavyweights such as Microsoft, AWS, Google or IBM. On the other hand, these vendors are or soon will be certified providers of cloud infrastructure for the deployment of SAP software.

Although SAP aims at developers that can write and deploy code using different programming languages, it will shortly offer support for its own ABAP. This will enable ABAP developers to create code for the cloud, including the many partners that have built numerous ABAP-based add-ons for on-premises ERP deployments in the past. We know of SAP partners that have been waiting for just that. Partners as well as customers can now migrate existing ABAP code into the SAP Cloud Platform. In addition, ABAP code that is transformed in such a way can access the various capabilities of the platform such as machine learning, being a major leap forward.

As with every other vendor of business software, there cannot be a conference without artificial intelligence and machine learning. One particular use case we found impressing is that of a solution for agriculture. In a palm tree plantation, images of palm trees can be analyzed to calculate the probability of a disease and the quantity of fertilizer required. A neural network technology assigns an individual ID to each of the thousands of trees, so each one can be managed individually. Other external data that can be used for plantation management include weather data as well as location and capacity of storage units for fertilizers.

The combination of external data, the use of AI and connection with the ERP applications is one example of how SAP Leonardo can be reasonably used within the broader SAP portfolio. However, there are other technologies that can provide the same features. Hence, it is on SAP to demonstrate in what way its blueprint provides stronger benefits.