The Right Environment for SOA

April 8, 2009 by Bernhard Krebs

Who prefers buying the proverbial pig in a poke? While the expression may be somewhat coarse, it essentially describes the dilemma many users still face: Before buying complex software applications, they often know little to nothing of what to expect in their everyday use.

SAP Discovery System V3 Enhanced is an exclusive joint offering from SAP and Fujitsu. Its functional scope – much broader than in earlier versions – is based on an enhanced development environment with the preinstalled technology platform SAP NetWeaver 7.1 at its core.

Also preinstalled on Fujitsu’s PRIMERGY servers (TX300 S4, running on quad-core Intel processors) are SAP business scenarios users can immediately test and, for example, implement within SOA.

SAP.info: First off, Mr. Bechtel: The chance to test an application before buying seems a bit run-of-the-mill…

Bechtel: …but it’s hardly that! To a company, a complex software solution isn’t like a computer game you can try out in a store under actual playing conditions; nor is it a standard word-processing program.

In our case, we deal much more with the challenge of companies who have their own unique demands with regard to business and the related processes, as well as infrastructures that have grown over a lengthy span of time and exhibit highly specific characteristics. Creating a testing environment that produces meaningful results obviously involves similarly complex requirements.

SAP.info: So Fujitsu’s SAP Discovery System is the answer?

Bechtel: Exactly. We developed the updated, enhanced version to provide a high-performance, praxis-oriented testing environment for getting started with SOA, as well as for training courses and proofs of concept.

Along with SAP, we’re offering interested corporate groups, large midsize companies, and SAP-licensed service partners the latest software environment in an exclusive package – SAP Discovery System V3 Enhanced.

SAP.info: And when I decide to carry out some testing…

Bechtel: …then you can not only implement our package in short order – you can have it fully integrated as needed into an IT system landscape. In other words, your company can start benefiting from SAP Discovery System V3 Enhanced almost immediately without significant investment costs. You’ll be able to:

  • Upgrade to the latest versions of software developments in a demo environment
  • Test the functions of the new SAP NetWeaver 7.0 and 7.1
  • Create prototypes and proofs of concept
  • Perhaps most importantly, use the system in many different departments

SAP.info: If you don’t mind my asking, what exactly does “without significant investment costs” mean?

Bechtel: Without preinstallation, around three weeks would be required for the installation and SAP integration – that’s obviously expensive. We’re offering this package in the very low five figures (in euros) and including a workshop day.

Also: SAP Discovery System V3 Enhanced comes with all of the possible extensions. Installing them manually would take at least 10 days.

SAP.info: Is the workshop necessary?

Bechtel: We developed the system with an eye on making it easy to use and we typically work with IT experts on the customer side, but SAP Discovery System V3 Enhanced and its expanded potential are, of course, something new.

This is why we recommend the introductory workshop included in the price, which we offer in cooperation with SAP Consulting. This service is in high demand with many customers simply because it provides an overview of the solution’s functions in testing and subsequent real-world applications.

SAP.info: Companies can also gain a deeper understanding of SOA business strategies in the process, right?

Bechtel: Precisely. Taking a close look at SOA and its relevance for your company is definitely one of the main things you can spend an extensive amount of time on with SAP Discovery System V3 Enhanced.

Regardless of their industry, our customers are benefiting from a development that incorporates the technical experience of countless user cases in the spirit of best practices. They’re also obtaining a glimpse of their companies’ possible futures with respect to IT – observing and testing SAP upgrades and new applications they might not yet be familiar with. This gives them plenty of practical experience with the philosophy behind SOA.

SAP.info: It sounds like SAP Discovery System V3 Enhanced can show customers a lot of untapped potential they didn’t even know they had.

Bechtel: That’s true, and I think another aspect is also important. In a way, this testing environment enables companies’ IT employees and managers to present the kind of IT structure they need in a way that is very credible because it runs under real-world conditions.

SAP.info: Who would they make such a presentation to?

Bechtel: Primarily to company management or other decision-makers they need to convince of an investment in upgrading and enhancing their software landscape.

Otherwise, it’s the following situation, isn’t it? The IT employee responsible approaches his or her boss with a controller in tow and says, “We need this.” The response usually includes, “Why?”, “That’s too expensive”, and “What value does this add to the company’s bottom line?”

At that point, you can either deliver a long chain of theoretical arguments – or simply and convincingly demonstrate the advantages and benefits under real-world conditions. Customers also get a preview of the costs involved, applying a wide variety of scenarios to help determine their decisions. Everyone involved can discuss the proposal and say, “We’ve already seen the planned and potential IT enhancements running live in our system.”

Plus, Fujitsu customers also receive a credit for an assessment of their existing landscape (five SIDs) – including an inventory report. This prepares them for other subsequent changes in infrastructure, such as consolidation or virtualization.

SAP.info: And when a potential customer makes the decision to buy, they have to start all over again?

Bechtel: Quite the opposite: Generally speaking, Fujitsu’s snapshot/restore mechanism constantly backs up the defined status of the customer’s overall environment during and after tests. This gives every customer the option of both concluding projects and reusing a system as often as they want in a broad range of application areas.

With this function, SAP Discovery System V3 Enhanced offers many more advantages than a simple database backup.

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