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If any SAP consultants are out there reading this, can you give me some insights on how to get up to speed with the SAP products and ecosystem? I'm a developer/consultant (primarily Salesforce) but am interested in exploring SAP product offerings. Infos in profile.

I think there are probably many of us that are interested in this side of the "enterprise" but SAP is sort of its own universe and difficult to understand/penetrate from the outside.

The problem is that most of the legal documentation available are really boring power point presentations that provide as little technical information as possible.

Most of their detailed documentation is only available for people who take up their courses (yes, they are that evil) and certification exams.

I do remember quite a bit of it was available on rapidshare though unless you were already working on something specific you wouldn't know what exactly to search for.

To start with, I would suggesting getting a book on SAP R/3. More specifically the SAP R/3 handbook by Jose Antonio Hernandez. I don't know of any thing available for free (legally) that is as good a place to start.

As for the product offerings from SAP, they more or less seem to be components that sit on the same application stack. So getting into one of these applications could provide insight into what everything else does.

Disclaimer: I work as an SAP Basis consultant (that's sort of an application admin + OS admin + DBA)

Thanks, added to my Amazon wishlist! I'm planning to pull aside some SAP consultants at some point soon and get them to show me the inner workings of the SAP stack. It is amazing to me that they only provide documentation to people who take their courses.


Or take a really expensive class from SAP (usually paid for by your employer).

The truth is that (it seems as though) SAP doesn't want people to be familiar with the system. Their distribution channel is consultants, and consultants make more money if the system is opaque and hard to get up to speed on.

This will be the downfall of SAP as we know it IMO (and Oracle, and every other enterprise application that relies on a technical consultant's input), the deliberate opacity of the system for the sake of the distribution channel.

^^ This. ^^

Proprietary lock-in (or dial up the "exclusivity" meter on knowledge and any budding subject matter experts). Enroll some of the customer personnel in expensive training only available from SAP (or SAP "approved" vendors).

Contrast to open source models where anybody can become fluent with the code or platform and can be hired or contracted to work at a fraction of the rate a SAP (or to be fair, any proprietary, lock-in "turnkey" "solution").

While I departed the corporate IT world a few years, I have seen the same shenanigans with the likes of Oracle, SAP and others too remote to be recognized by many here. In fact, I owned a company that profited as a "service partner" for a data communications legacy "commerce" software suite maker.

SAP is one of my focus areas at work. My answer would be to install the trial version (which I think is no longer called miniSAP, but used to be), try to get the general hang of how it's supposed to work, and then dig deeper in the areas that interest you, maybe Java or ABAP development if you want to do development. Last time I've used it, the trial version had a 90 days license, but you could renew it easily and legally.

You won't get a SAP job that way, but it might give you enough of an edge to take on SAP-related projects (think "sure, I've done webservice calls into Salesforce and I know how that works with SAP XI, happy to work on your integration project").

I think interesting documentation in this regard would be nice. I believe there's a lot of space for developers to support small companies that aren't big enough to buy into SAP yet, but would benefit from other products and tools that can give them the same functionally. More importantly, have the benefit of their business processes being SAP friendly, but also allow other products to offer some of the same functionality for cheaper. My hope is that some of these products could grow to become a competitor to SAP.

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