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Is ABAP Near The End Of Its Life?

20140201-082310.jpgI receive quite a few emails from students asking for advice on what area of SAP is the most lucrative, what is the best module of SAP to learn and so on. They are all good questions and I always give my point of view.

Today I received an email from a student, let’s call him Bob., that went like this. Bob asked:

I am one of your most devoted students. I have bought many of your courses through UDEMY and SaptrainingHQ and recently obtained your ABAP book. Studying goes pretty well because I found certain similarity between ABAP and Cobol that I studied a while ago.
But today I questioned the longevity of ABAP as a dominant language for SAP.
The reason is simple, the situation reminds me the 1998 when there were plenty of jobs for COBOL but they all disappeared after 2000.
I have already noticed NetWeaver Java stack. Does it mean that SAP is moving towards the Java platform?
Can you give me advice from your experience?
Should I continue digging in ABAP or lean towards BW/BI or maybe HANA? Or try to learn all of this. But I guess I can’t specialize in everything.
Where do you see a future in SAP?

First of all, Bob you are AWESOME for taking some of my courses and purchasing one of my books. You have helped put food on my table 🙂

Here is how I replied…

Something to keep in mind when looking at the future of SAP technologies is what would it take to move to a new language or new platform. If SAP decided to move away from ABAP they would have to rewrite ALL of the business logic in their systems.

ABAP is the core of their systems. They did introduce the JAVA stack many years ago but it has not taken off and remains as a small part of their platform.

In my opinion ABAP is here to stay for a long time to come. I don’t base that just on my own thoughts; I have spoken with developers inside and outside of SAP and they say the same.

Does this mean we shouldn’t learn new technologies? No, we must always keep learning. Our profession is one of the fastest moving professions there is. You said it yourself, the demand for COBOL dropped and demand in other areas increased.

Regarding learning other specific SAP skills, I would definitely advise doing this. We work in a field where we have to learn so we don’t get left behind. I think within 5 years the majority of ABAP jobs will require some knowledge of HANA because of how ABAP code has to change when working with HANA.

The old style of reading data from the database and processing it in ABAP programs will not be very efficient in a HANA based system. You need to learn how to select data within HANA and filter/aggregate the data etc.. on the HANA server before bringing it back inside the ABAP program for further processing.

Regarding BW/BI it depends what job you want to do. By all means learn as much as you can but learning other modules of SAP means you expect to work in these areas. If you don’t intend to move from ABAP then ask what benefit learning the other module will bring.

If learning new tech will benefit you then yes, go for it. If you enjoy learning new tech but have no desire to put it into practice in the work place, then heck, still learn it if that’s what you like doing. If you are considering learning something just in case you are forced into a situation where that’s what your employer requires at the time, I would say find a new employer so you can do something you enjoy.

What do you think you should do Bob?

So that’s what I thought on the subject. I have given my view on subjects like this many times over and no doubt I will be asked my opinion many times more.

What do you think? Do you think ABAP is on the way out? Do you feel as though your skills are becoming out dated?

Leave a comment below!


About the Author:

Pete has been working with SAP technologies for over 10 years. He started out as an ABAP consultant and then moved on to BW where he has worked many different clients covering a wide variety of industries. "I love introducing SAP technology (especially BI) to new clients and showing them how they can go from zero to hero within their business in super fast time". Contact me on twitter @PeterMoxon