SAP Launches Low-Code/No-Code Tools, Expands BTP Free Tier Offerings

Unveilings at this week’s SAP TechEd 2021 virtual conference also include new capabilities that partners can use to embed AI in customer solutions and workflows, deepening partner-customer relationships.


SAP is offering a new low-code/no-code development toolset within the SAP Business Technology Platform that the software giant says makes it easier for both professional and “citizen” developers to build applications on BTP and extensions for SAP applications.

SAP, which is holding its SAP TechEd 2021 virtual conference for developers this week, also said it is expanding its free tier of trial BTP services and for the first time making them available to individual developers. The company also unveiled new embedded AI capabilities for developers and new extensibility options for ERP application solutions.

Company executives, during conference presentations and in interviews with CRN, said the new development offerings also create opportunities for partners to work more closely with customers to develop applications and application extensions.

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The TechEd announcements also highlight the increased importance of the SAP Business Technology Platform as part of the company’s technology portfolio and its go-to-market efforts with its partners.

“The importance of our partner ecosystem is even more intrinsically linked in the cloud and in the platform world than it has been in the past,” said SAP CTO Juergen Mueller in a TechEd online session. “I see partners being most successful when they are involved in the whole value chain and lifecycle of our customers. We are very, very focused on empowering partners to use BTP.”

Customers are increasingly asking that partners develop their intellectual property and deliver their value on Business Technology Platform, said Karl Fahrbach, SAP chief partner officer, during the online session with Mueller.

“In the cloud, we see partners are taking a different role. When you look at the lifecycle of the customer, we want the partners involved everywhere adding value,” Fahrbach said.

The SAP Business Technology Platform is a collection of some 90 products and services including database, data management, analytics, application development and application integration software. The platform, which serves as an integration hub for applications and data assets from SAP and third-party companies, also includes AI, machine learning, internet of things (IoT) and blockchain capabilities.

Some 700 partners are working with BTP today and have “tens of thousands” of trained BTP professionals with many holding BTP certifications, Mueller said.

The focus on developers is a core element of SAP’s strategy to help partners and customers adapt and extend SAP applications.

“The reality is, if you are an application vendor, you are also a development vendor,” said JG Chirapurath, chief marketing and solutions officer for SAP Business Technology Platform, in an interview with CRN.

The new unified low-code/no-code toolset, SAP AppGyver, is now generally available as part of BTP. The tools, including a drag-and-drop interface, extensive component library and unlimited logic functions, can be used to create new web and mobile applications, enhance or extend existing software, and automate complex development tasks.

“No application is out-of-the box for everyone. Applications, essentially, have to be molded and fit into an organization, an enterprise, for their unique business processes, for their unique needs,” Chirapurath said.

AppGyver has been in preview and already has some 100,000 users, Chirapurath said. SAP is also building some of the low-code/no-code capabilities into Business Application Studio, SAP’s development environment for professional developers.

“These tools allow our partners to participate in the low-code, no-code approach that many of their customers are asking for,” Chirapurath said. “And it effectively gives them a very clear way of putting it all together.”

SAP also announced a number of embedded AI capability expansions across the company’s portfolio including new features in SAP Conversational AI, a service for building and monitoring chatbots to automate tasks and workflows, and a new neural network-based recommendation engine called Personalized Recommendation.

The use of AI to automate business processes is “one of the ripest and the richest opportunities for partners,” Chirapurath said. “Because it allows a partner to really engage with a customer and really understand the business problems they are looking to solve, really understand the landscape in which they are operating, and then come together on a custom AI solution that matches the needs and opportunities for these customers.”

SAP also unveiled SAP Process Automation, a new no-code process automation solution on BTP that draws on workflow management and embedded robotic process automation functionality. Now available for preview for a select number of customers, SAP Process Automation includes libraries of pre-built process packages and bots designed to work with SAP applications such as SAP S/4HANA and SAP Ariba, according to the company.

On July 1 SAP announced a free tier business model for some BTP services, allowing customers to try out the services for free for one year. The company has since been expanding the number of BTP services included in the free tier and in August opened up the free tier option to SAP partners.

Tuesday SAP said that just about all BTP services are now included in the free tier, including the SAP HANA Cloud and SAP Integration Suite, and also said that individual developers can now take advantage of the free tier.

Chirapurath touted the advantages the free tier provides to partners. “It’s an awesome way for partners to try things out in the Business Technology Platform with no commitment,” he said. The free tier also helps solution providers work with existing and prospective customers by facilitating the development of prototype solutions.