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The Boring Enterprise Nerdletter - Issue #5 - January 12, 2022

Jelena and Paul
Jelena and Paul
Hey there!
It’s 2022 - as we dubbed it last issue, “The Year of Curiosity”. We’re off to the races on that theme.
  • Jelena gets skeptical about web3
  • Paul tries to be more skeptical about low-code
  • Jelena fantasizes about her next car purchase
  • Paul thinks about graphs and APIs and sidecarless…something or other
To all our readers and fellow enterprise nerds dealing with support issues from last quarter close:
Happy New Year of Curiosity!
-Jelena and Paul

Your Graph Has APIs All Over It
These are the Tyk creatures, from I kinda dig them.
These are the Tyk creatures, from I kinda dig them.
I was fascinated by a conversation I read with Martin Buhr of Tyk. API management in some form or another comes up all the time in the last 5-6 years of my consulting work, and it feels like that market space continues to evolve. 
Buhr talks about doing what they call the “Universal Data Graph”. Most enterprise-ish places have tens or hundreds of SaaS vendors, all with APIs of some flavor. With Tyk, their aim is to plug all those SaaS APIs into one place and then achieve a single, cross-API query point; one Graph QL interface for developers to call upon all the bits and pieces of the various APIs glued together by Tyk. I have to hear some case studies, because this is the kind of thing that sounds great on a drawing board but needs proof from folks who’d actually need it to validate true usefulness. (Also keep your ears perked up for sidecarless microservices platforms)
Graph QL, Universal Data Graph, SAP Graph, Microsoft Graph. The concept of graphs remains central to basic computer science, but also continues to see use across product lines as well, even if it doesn’t mean the same thing across those products. I am 100% going to dive into SAP Graph in a future newsletter issue - that’s a place where the difference between drawing board and story is hard to understand. PM
ABAP And XLSX: Once Again for The Cheap Seats
It’s been a running joke in SAP Community that a new blog post with yet another idea of implementing Excel file upload/download appears every month. The problem here is not the existence of the posts, however, but the fact that this monthly event shines the light on two concerns.
First, SAP customers are still either not well-informed about it or are not embracing open-source software. The community project ABAP2XLSX is the custom ABAP code available on GitHub that delivers great functionality for all your XLSX needs. It may be used by any SAP customers and requires very little effort to implement in an ABAP environment. 
Second concern is the general and ongoing lack of information and guidance for ABAP developers on what specific global classes or APIs (if ABAP2XLSX is not an option) are to be used for Excel file processing. The latest blog post promised the “unified” approach by using class cl_fdt_xl_spreadsheet. But the SAP Note 2468709 says that this class is supported only in the specific scenario of BRF+ decision tables. So much for unification.
What is the solution? I guess either start using ABAP2XLSX or wait a month till the next post on this subject appears. Better luck next time? JP
Splendor and Misery of Web3
Is Web3 all Hype? Top 10 Web 3.0 Questions & Answers
Is Web3 all Hype? Top 10 Web 3.0 Questions & Answers
The volume of posts about Web3 reached critical mass, which prompted me to set aside some time to check out what all the brouhaha is about. 
The definition of Web3 varies greatly depending on whom you ask and the opinions about its virtues or sins are highly polarized. While the ideals in the Web3 manifesto of sorts (“decentralized and fair internet where users control their own data, identity and destiny”) are definitely appealing, the means of achieving those ideals are not clear. And the founding fathers seem to be mostly attached to the cryptocurrency project Ethereum, which I’m sure is not at all suspicious.
Many outspoken software engineers came out with passionate criticism of Web3, one author calling it “unregulated casino that literally burns our planet to the ground” and another plainly referring to it with the word that would cause the corporate mail filters not to deliver you this awesome Nerdletter.
For the nerds, it is easy to get seduced by the promise of cutting-edge technology. But there isn’t much more to it than the good old blockchain, the tech without a business use case. (Case in point: much touted just a few years ago SAP Leonardo is already history.)
Without a doubt, there are many web-related issues, such as FAANG training their “Eye of Sauron” on everyone’s private data, or a global disruption caused by a service outage at a single Cloud provider. But the solution for it is not the cryptocurrency cult. Don’t assume that Web3 is automatically better than 2 or 1 just because the number is higher. JP
To the victor: profits. To the other combatants: also profits.
To the victor: profits. To the other combatants: also profits.
I remain super interested in the ongoing database wars in THE CLOUD. John Foley at Acceleration Economy does a nice breakdown of the current state of battle. I think he’s spot on when he says “there’s an unmistakable correlation between overall cloud leadership and cloud database leadership”. 
Foley identifies 5 common advantages that GCP, AWS, and Azure have when developing their database offerings. To me, two of these advantages are the biggest: 
  • Continuous innovation. Attend any of the yearly conferences by these vendors and look at the new things on offer every year. They are spending huge money on R&D - database and (of course) otherwise. 
  • Fast and easy integration. It’s true for many, but especially if you choose DynamoDB, Cloud Spanner, or CosmosDB: they are incredibly easy to integrate with the other distributed services that each vendor offers. Speaking as an application developer, is a huge time savings to have supported connection and integration built into the tools. 
Also note that in the database world it’s not just the offerings from these 3 hyperscalers. Other vendors offer database products that live on top of hyperscaler infrastructure, and in many cases live across hyperscalers to provide not only regional resilience but vendor resilience. 
There’s an event discussing this stuff and I’m pumped to attend and learn more. PM
The Low-Code Hype Train Blues
This dude is covered in binary. He has no time for low-code approaches.
This dude is covered in binary. He has no time for low-code approaches.
Over at TechRadar, Max Yarchevsky explains four reasons why some developers are skeptical of low-code solutions. I have to admit I’ve been a little bit on-the-hype-train myself in the low-code space, so for my own betterment it’s worth thinking through objections. (I’m one of those nerds that jumps on a lot of hype trains because I think too many things are neat and interesting. I have to try to calm that guy down!)
Yarchevsky says scalability, extensive training, difficult troubleshooting, and vendor lock-in are all reasons to walk slowly or reconsider when low-code is the right thing. Looking at the details of those objections, I can see some small counter-arguments vendors might respond with. But to me, the hardest-hitting objections are gripes about troubleshooting and vendor lock-in. Adding another layer where you don’t control the entire tech stack is absolutely a recipe for difficulties troubleshooting. And vendor lock-in seems like a given in this space, as all the big players have their own way of creating and delivering the apps that citizen developers create. 
Vendors and consulting firms who can guide their customers to solid decisions on which scenarios are best for low-code will be vital. Where low-code is appropriate, dependable data platforms, smart governance, and open collaboration between IT and business are the keys to doing it right. PM
Car-ma, Car-ma Chameleon
Possibly Jelena's Future Car (source: BMW Twitter)
Possibly Jelena's Future Car (source: BMW Twitter)
Consumer electronics expo CES in Las Vegas is typically an exciting event for the nerds and techies. Among many cool things presented at CES this year, BMW’s color-changing car caught my attention. 
The tech behind this innovation is not exactly new: the car is covered with the electronic ink panels (think many Kindles glued onto a car). What’s more interesting, this allows not just for quick color changes but, essentially, to project any image or text onto the car body. So, no more scribbling “wash me” on a dusty trunk, just hack into the car’s Wi-Fi and project your opinion directly onto the panels, in color!
And who knows, maybe one day we’ll get to integrate ERP systems not just with mobile platforms but with cars? Shivers. JP
(I can’t wait for SAP For Fender Displays. PM)
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Jelena and Paul
Jelena and Paul @BoringNerds

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-Jelena and Paul

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