SAP Blockchain: Applications and Services Tutorial

0

Do you want to learn about the SAP blockchain? If you do, then you have come to the right place.

SAP is one of the giants in the industry. 

They offer one of the best Enterprise Resource Planning solutions in the industry. It was founded in 1972, and until now, it has grown tremendously and has also become a go-to solution for business management. 

Right now, it holds the #1 position in the ERP market. As ERP leader,  they are bound to enter the blockchain as a service market.

Blockchain, on the other hand, has seen as a tool of change. It has single-handedly changed how organizations are solving problems. 

SAP BLOCKCHAIN AS A SERVICE – SIMPLY EXPLAINED

sap blockchain

Before we dive deep into the SAP Blockchain Applications and Services, let’s take a look at the blockchain from an enterprise perspective.

Understanding blockchain from an enterprise perspective

Blockchain is a peer-to-peer network where each peer takes part in the consensus method and also carries a copy of the ledger. It is distributed ledger technology with no central point of authority. This gives blockchain features such as transparency, integrity, immutability, and decentralization. 

To facilitate automation within the network, smart contracts are used. They are similar to legal papers, but digitally. These self-executing agreements can help reach the network a right level of automation, ensuring proper working condition even when a few aspects of the network fails. 

Blockchain is the future. According to the World Economic Forum, by 2027, 10% of the global GDP will be contributed by blockchain.

From an enterprise perspective, blockchain will enable them to be more efficient. It will also improve international money transfer, which can take as low as 20 seconds. According to SAP’s Digital Readiness Assessment, 44% of the organizations are equipped with the tools and talent to implement blockchain technology. 

SAP understands the importance of blockchain, and that’s why they provide their cloud platform blockchain service.

What is Blockchain As a Service?

Before we dive deep into the SAP BLockchain As A Service, let’s try to understand BaaS itself.

BaaS is a platform as a service where the provider takes care of everything, including the infrastructure and the software. So, for example, a client can easily access the blockchain technology on the SAP cloud infrastructure. They do not have to spend on the infrastructure or the talent that is required to manage or maintain it. However, there is a fee associated with the service itself.

There are many popular blockchain-as-a-service platforms such as the IBM blockchain platform, Amazon Blockchain Templates, DragonChain and of course the SAP Blockchain as a Service.

Want to learn more about Blockchain-as-a-Service? Then check out Blockchain As A Service: Enterprise-Grade BaaS Solutions

SAP Blockchain Applications and Services

The SAP Blockchain Applications and Services ecosystem is composed of two main components. They include the following:

  • SAP Cloud Platform Blockchain
  • SAP HANA Blockchain Service.

SAP Cloud Platform Blockchain Service(SCP)

SAP is big. They offer a plethora of services ranging from Analytics, Data Management to Mobile, User Experience, and so on. Their Blockchain Service made a debut on May 17, 2017. They launched it in the annual Sapphire event and took place in Orlando, U.S.

SAP Blockchain as a Service is described as ready-to-use. This means that the client does not need to own their infrastructure or the solution to host their blockchain. Blockchain implementation is costly, and that’s where SAP blockchain comes into play.

According to the official SAP blockchain page, they describe it as the easiest way to get your DLT on the cloud. It is also the lowest-risk gateway which enables clients to experiment on distributed ledger technology.

The benefits are evident as the client doesn’t have to take part in the initial infrastructure setup.

The service is improved thanks to its integration with the SAP Leonardo. The blockchain services fall under the SAP Leonardo. It is SAP technology that combines intelligent technologies, industry expertise, and services. In simple words, SAP Leonardo lets clients do practical use of technology. It enables clients to expand their solutions to use digital supply chain and large-scale IoT programs.

Getting Started With SAP Cloud Platform Blockchain Service(SCP) and Cloud Foundry

As SAP Cloud Platform Blockchain Service is part of the Cloud Foundry, you will be able to use Hyperledger Fabric for deployment purposes. 

Cloud Foundry is an open source cloud application platform which is backed by top technology companies such as IBM, Google, SAP, Microsoft, and others. It lets anyone easily build, test, deploy, and scale blockchain applications. You have full freedom when it comes to choosing application services, developer frameworks, and clouds. As it is open source, you can also find it in some private cloud instances and distributions.

The business process using blockchain technology can be implemented in Hyperledger Fabric. Also, the plug-and-play nature of the Fabric makes it an ideal solution to be used with SAP Cloud. Hyperledger Fabric is also highly scalable. It can be used to create blockchain applications with proper permissions and scalability. It can easily reach 1,000 transactions per second.

You can get started with Cloud Foundry and SAP here: https://cloudplatform.sap.com/try.html

The steps to get started with SAP Cloud Platform are as below.

  1. Login into the SAP Cloud Platform.
  2. Now, go to Cloud Foundry Trial button
  3. You will land into the Cockpit Home screen. There you need to click on the trial link.
  4. Once done, you will be redirected to the Cloud Foundry dashboard.
  5. Now, you have to create a memory and add new space.
  6. Once done, go to the Service Marketplace and select Blockchain.
  7. From there, create a new Blockchain Instances. As this is a trial, the service plan will be automatically selected.
  8. After you finalize the plan, you will be able to do four actions: view dashboard, link application, create service key or destroy the instance.

This instance is the basic setup, and now you as a client can easily connect to any platform or service to it. All you now do is write code according to your business requirement.

Another essential part of the SAP Cloud Platform Blockchain Service is the SAP HANA Blockchain. It lets clients connect enterprise blockchain platforms to SAP’s HANA database environment.

SAP HANA Blockchain Service

Now, that we have understood SAP Cloud Blockchain Services, it is time to look into the SAP HANA blockchain. We will go through basic introduction, technical overview, and how to set it up. Let’s get started.

Until now, we have covered SCP and how it enables clients to work with the blockchain by building blockchain apps on the cloud infrastructure. SAP Leonardo also comes into the picture as it allows SCP to work with popular technologies such as the Internet of Things, AI, and so on.

The last part of the SAP blockchain ecosystem is the SAP HANA Blockchain. It enables popular enterprise blockchain platforms to connect to the popular SAP HANA database. This ability to connect to SAP Hana opens up new possibilities and capabilities, not present within other similar blockchain ecosystems.

SAP HANA Blockchain Service

Source: blog.sap.com

The above image depicts how SAP blockchain ecosystem work. SAP is not about creating their own platform. They wanted to create an ecosystem that surrounds around SAP, helping the integration of existing SAP technologies and the other enterprise blockchain.

At the time of writing, you can work with Hyperledger Fabric, MultiChain, and Quorum.

In simple words, the SCP blockchain first connects to the blockchain network. To join, it utilizes the cloud service using the SAP cloud platform. Now, the SAP HANA Blockchain comes into play where it connects the SAP HANA database with the cloud service. 

SAP HANA requires two components to make all of these happen. It requires the SAP HANA Blockchain service and the SAP HANA Blockchain adapter.

  • SAP HANA Blockchain Service – The SAP Leonardo blockchain implements it.
  • SAP HANA Blockchain Adapter – It is implemented by SAP HANA instance using the SAP ONE support launchpad.

The subscription works from SAP HANA Blockchain adapter to the HANA Blockchain service. The HANA Blockchain service now then communicate with the SAP Blockchain service — creating a connection. Once a transaction takes place, SAP HANA replicates it. The replication works both ways, ensuring that other applications connected to SAP HANA can store data into the blockchain. 

The above functionality also helps the blockchain application to combine both on- and off-chain data easily.

Why SAP for blockchain?

SAP Blockchain as a Service works differently compared to other blockchain platforms. It doesn’t aim to become a platform which tries to implement blockchain but provides a great environment for clients to utilize already established blockchain frameworks out there. The three reasons we need SAP for blockchain are as below.

  • Business Process-Centered: All the blockchain services provided by the SAP are business oriented, which means that critical values of a business, including impacted process, use cases, data integrity, and quality, are maintained.
  • Networks Experience: SAP ensures that the networks work as intended to ensure blockchain success. They are experts at the network and ensure that the environment stays secure and seamless. 
  • BaaS Abstraction Layer: To ensure that it can be integrated with other systems, it provides a BaaS abstraction layer. The layer supports open standards and ensures proper integration with a third party and SAP applications. 

Integrating Blockchain into SAP applications: SAP Blockchain Use Cases

Integrating blockchain into SAP applications ensure that the adoption takes place faster than usual. SAP is working hard to bring out new blockchain tools that can help integrate to different SAP applications. Right now, you can integrate blockchain into SAP applications such as track and trace goods in transit, transportation and logistics management, track and trace pharmaceuticals, and so on.

Let’s see some real-world use-cases where SAP can play an important role. Some of the projects that we will list have either completed or in progress.

CAMELOT ITLab – Mobile Device Management powered by blockchain  → CAMELOT ITLab is using blockchain to safeguard mobile devices against threats. We are living in a world where mobile phones are an integral part of the workforce.  Even companies invest in their mobile devices — allocating, protecting, and maintaining these devices. With blockchain, they can register each device to the network and validate devices accordingly. You can also create an International Mobile Equipment Identity(IMEI) using the SAP Leonardo Blockchain. The project has been released.

Blockchain-based ocean shipping Proof-Of-Concept → The international trades are a big part of the global economy. It is essential for companies to ensure that their supply chain models are working as needed. The current model is not ideal and doesn’t provide proper transparency or protect the supply chain from frauds. The use of blockchain can digitize the trade process and ensure security and transparency for all parties. SAP Transportation management provides it by utilizing blockchain, proper safety, and integrity.

Wireless Device Security Network → Protecting the network from unauthorized access is important, and that’s where the wireless device security network comes in. It is achieved by a blacklist of IEMIs that is managed on the blockchain. The devices are then shared with all the MNOs to ensure that infected or blocked devices cannot access protected networks. Different vendors can implement it to blacklist devices. The project is currently in Proof-of-Concept.

Autonomous Province of South Tyrol → Bolzano, Italy is using blockchain to implement a network that works efficiently and provide improvements in digital ledger technology.  

SAP Blockchain Consortium

SAP is trying to transform the world, and that’s where the blockchain consortiums come in. It brings like-minded companies and industry leaders that are ready to take on the most prominent business challenges out there. They are trying to use blockchain and provide the best possible solution to the problems. 

Companies that are part of the SAP High Tech Blockchain Industry Consortium include Lenovo, T-Mobile, PPG, and others. The founding members of High Tech Blockchain Industry Consortium include Flex, A3 by Airbus, HP Enterprise, Intel and UPS. They also have founding members for Life Science and Pharmaceutical Industries

Is SAP Cloud Platform ready?

The SAP blockchain ecosystem looks promising. The ability to use blockchain solution without the need to set up infrastructure is ground-breaking. Also, the quality of SAP solutions speaks for themselves.

But, that’s not everyone thinks. The critics point out how the whole idea is still untested when it comes to being implemented at a large scale, especially in the enterprise/corporate marketplace. The lack of tangible evidence on how the distributed ledge tech will fit in a large enterprise where multi-landscape systems are used is one of the biggest concerns.

Also, implementing end-to-end blockchain solution would not be easy, and understanding which companies are willing to do is the key to its adoption. 

To accelerate adoption, SAP HANA can play a crucial role. It can act as the abstraction, ensuring easy implementation. It is also a separate solution which provides that it can work in tandem with the SAP Cloud Platform Blockchain. 

So, what do you think about SAP Blockchain? Comment below and let us know.


About Author

Nitish holds a BSc in computer engineering. He is a blockchain enthusiast and in spare time likes to read about the moon. His articles have published on Dzone, InfoWorld, and Hongkiat.

Leave A Reply