Have You Moved To SAP Netweaver Platform?

by Amit Tripathi    Feb 17, 2005

If the IT landscape of your organization is a mix of enterprise wide applications, ERP systems and legacy applications, interspersed with Web services, then it is high time for your enterprise to extend the Web services to implement business-level enterprise services.

SAP’s two-year old Netweaver technology is gradually establishing itself as an enabler of what is termed as enterprise services architecture (ESA) with promises of added benefits for enterprises.

Speaking on the scope of ESA, Simon Dale, vice president, SAP Asia, said, “ESA is not a software solution but a blueprint that is delivered through the Netweaver technology platform and has two key characteristics. On one hand, it provides business analysts with business level and context specific services, and on the other, it cuts across multiple applications and Web services.”

So how does Netweaver enable ESA?

Dale explained, “SAP Netweaver is an open integration and application platform that facilitates integration of non-SAP systems with SAP, enabling enterprise services architecture (ESA). The Netweaver consists of a range of enterprise solutions namely SAP Web Application Server, Enterprise Portal, Exchange Infrastructure, Business Information Warehouse and Mobile Infrastructure. It powers SAP XI, a middleware that is useful for disparate application integration.”

Netweaver is interoperable and extensible with both .NET and IBM Websphere and embraces all open standards (supports Java 2, J2EE and ABAP programming language in a single environment). Among the key capabilities of SAP Netweaver are portal infrastructure, collaboration, multichannel access, knowledge management, business intelligence, master data management, integration broker, business process management, application platform, life-cycle management, composite application framework.

What are the immediate benefits an enterprise can get by upgrading to SAP Netweaver?

Dale adds, “One of the first advantages an enterprise would realize is the goal of reducing total cost of ownership (TCO), since it will have a unified infrastructure in terms of operating system, database, application server release. Secondly, it would be able to extend the reach of services and processes using new integration capabilities.”

But what types of enterprises are quick to adopt ESA approach? Dale elaborated, “Large enterprises already on SAP (probably mySAP Business Suite) are the initial adopters of this architecture. Even mid-size enterprises (on mySAP ERP) could begin by using various components of Netweaver technology to enable new services.”

The licensing of the technology is done meticulously. Says Dale, “For those enterprises already using mySAP ERP, the Netweaver components are free. But once it is decided to extend the reach of services (for example external enterprise portal, or integrating some added services through SAP XI), then extra licenses need to be bought.”

When queried on the necessity for getting into platform development, Dale explained, “Earlier the general impression was that SAP was monolithic or that integration with SAP is a difficult proposition. Thus the necessity of building our own application platform was necessary.”

But, Netweaver as a single application platform, or as part of mySAP ERP has got another business specific prospect with it. Informs Dale, “Since Netweaver supports open standards, using its components and engine, enterprises can develop an ERP system themselves on which they can have proprietary right, which in turn can be a viable commercial prospect.”

SAP is taking this initiative vigorously given the fact that it has already certified more than 500 consultants from Infosys on Netweaver. Its other partners like Wipro, Satyam, TCS too has sizeable numbers of their consultants trained on it.

In addition, it has established SAP Developer Network as a forum for technical experts at customers’ and partners’ companies and in SAP technical groups. SDN allows enterprises to search for answers to their specific questions, access weblogs from community members, avail of e-learning content and sample code and offer suggestions on new features and content.

In India SAP ERP holds 57.4% of the ERP market. The ERP major has already bagged 14 customers in India for Netweaver technology within one year.

The latest platform development initiative from SAP thus, is a timely business diversion initiative too, and SAP officials say that the new initiative will be crucial in doubling their revenue to $5 bn in the next five years. With 1500 customers already in its kitty, in the first two years of its existence, SAP Netweaver seem to be the next hot thing that would top CXO’s shopping list in the coming years.