SAP Launches New Development Capabilities To Help Partners, Customers Build Gen AI-Powered Apps

The new SAP Build Code tools and HANA Cloud vector database capabilities – combined with the recently unveiled Joule gen AI copilot – will make programmers more productive when working with generative AI and large language models.


Aiming to expand the generative AI development capabilities of programmers in the SAP world, the software giant today debuted SAP Build Code, a new toolset for building generative AI functionality into business applications.

The new SAP Build Code offering works with the recently introduced Joule generative AI copilot to create code for application logic, data models and test scripts using natural language.

“Our goal is to make every developer an AI developer,” said Dan Yu, senior vice president, solution management and product marketing, SAP data and analytics, in an interview with CRN.

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The company unveiled SAP Build Code at the SAP TechEd event being held this week in Bangalore, India. The announcement also included new vector database capabilities for the HANA Cloud database and new AI Foundation services for embedding AI into applications.

“Generative AI is changing the way developers work,” said Juergen Mueller, SAP CTO, in a press briefing prior to the announcements. “It makes them faster, it makes them more efficient and it makes them more productive.”

SAP Build Code is part if the larger SAP Build unified low-code development environment the company launched one year ago. Build Code includes pre-built integrations, guided templates, built-in best practices, key design and runtime services and tools, APIs, and connectors to both SAP systems and software from other vendors.

While SAP Build targeted low-code developers who build web and mobile applications, the new SAP Build Code is intended for use by professional programmers who develop both front-end and back-end software using Java or Javascript, Yu said.

To be effective the large language models that support generative AI must work with large volumes of both structured and unstructured data around customers, employees, operations, documents, logistics, supply chains and more.

“AI is only useful when you have good data and access to data has been paramount,” Yu said.

The new vector engine for HANA cloud is designed to help developers work with unstructured data such as text, images and audio. The vector datastore makes it easy to find and retrieve unstructured data objects using natural language, simplifying interactions with large language models and empowering developers to implement generative AI within applications, according to the company.

“We are helping developers to combine all this rich structured data and SAP systems with unstructured data and with natural language modeling capabilities,” Mueller said. “And that is truly a unique value proposition from SAP.”

The company described the new AI Foundation as a one-stop shop for services that developers use to build AI- and generative AI-powered applications and extensions on the SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP). The new AI Hub, part of AI Foundation, will provide access to large language models from SAP and from third parties.

“Ultimately, we want to democratize access to gen AI. And the best and most effective way of doing this is by providing gen AI within business processes. And SAP has both the breadth and depth of being in every single industry across the most important business processes,” Yu said.

The new development offerings are also expected to help SAP’s partners, from giants like Accenture and Deloitte to small ISVs, develop and deploy applications for SAP environments with embedded AI capabilities.

Mueller said SAP’s 2,100 partners already play a significant role in SAP’s AI efforts noting that 360 of the 2,000 partner solutions in the online SAP store have AI capabilities “and drive a lot of business value. We have an open [partner] ecosystem that’s critical to our customer success and to our own success,” he said.

SAP Build Code and the HANA Cloud vector database functionality will be available for preview in the first quarter of 2021.

SAP also said it has joined the corporate affiliate program at the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence where SAP researchers and engineers will work with the university’s academic community around the intersection of generative AI and business.