Many businesses face the dilemma of having to reduce IT costs even though they still need to invest in new solutions. Up to now, too little attention has been paid to innovations, something which Henning Kagermann, spokesman of the SAP Executive Board, referred to at this year’s SAPPHIRE in Orlando. On average 60% of an IT budget is spent on maintenance and servicing and 30% on integration, according to Kagermann. Companies devote only 10% of their IT budget to development and innovative solutions. SAP NetWeaver offers a way out – maintenance and integration costs are reduced, thus freeing up this money for innovation, without increasing the budget.
SAP NetWeaver is a comprehensive integration and application platform which brings together all users, information and business processes across technical and company boundaries. The platform enables complete corporate integration in these three areas. SAP NetWeaver is also the technological platform for all SAP applications incorporated in the mySAP Business Suite and SAP’s platform for creating an Enterprise Services Architecture (ESA). The ESA is a blueprint for comprehensive and web-services-based business applications that enable companies to react very flexibly to change. Web services are functional units based on open standards, which can be loosely linked up in order to develop new process chains for instance. Parts of an application can therefore be changed independently of one another.
A flexible response to market changes
Companies cannot respond flexibly to market changes without investing in new business processes and therefore in new applications. It is not enough simply to carry out further development on their existing heterogeneous IT landscape. The integration outlay for this is high, since interfaces, different applications and platforms all need to be integrated and a standardized database created. SAP NetWeaver helps companies avoid all this work.
The SAP open integration and application platform supports standard interfaces and interoperability with IBM WebSphere and Microsoft .NET. In this way, the company’s existing investments are protected. SAP NetWeaver incorporates the SAP Web Application Server (SAP Web AS), which supports Java 2 Enterprise Edition-based (J2EE) and ABAP-based web applications and web services. SAP Web AS also provides a development environment for Java and ABAP.
Several different integration tools were generally required in the past but, with SAP NetWeaver, SAP Web AS provides a joint basis for an “integrated” and comprehensive platform for integration on the three levels “users”, “information” and “processes”. This is less complex and cuts costs, e.g. through joint administration that goes beyond the potential of single tools.
Creating needs-based applications
The benefits of SAP NetWeaver go far beyond just integration, however. Web services technology allows companies – on the basis of SAP Web AS and without considerable outlay – to change existing applications or to develop their own applications that are executed independently of the existing application architecture. This is done by simply using existing web services that can be selected or adapted with considerable flexibility. The fact that all SAP technology is designed in the form of small components means that companies are able to change their business models and processes quickly. This is very important when, for example, incorporating new business partners, expanding product ranges or divesting non-core business areas. This ultimately enables the company to react faster to market changes.
Buy instead of build
Companies can thus change certain processes directly to obtain a pre-defined return on investment (ROI) or indeed compile new processes quickly. Companies thus gain speed and flexibility in configuring their IT projects, thereby cutting costs and keeping the project manageable. By way of example, the Enterprise Services Architecture cut the duration of a project for the design, implementation, testing and going live of new business processes for a customer on the consumer products market from between six and nine months to three months. SAP customers are making increasing use of this opportunity and of SAP NetWeaver.
The resulting savings can be invested in innovation and new business solutions that quickly deliver a high ROI. Achieving a good ROI means recovering the complete investment within as little as one or two years. SAP NetWeaver monitors the degree of innovation and the speed with which new developments are tackled and can therefore have a direct impact on the ROI. This gives companies the possibility of undertaking IT projects in line with their own development resources and technical requirements. They also decide if they want to introduce either one, two or all three integration levels.
Preconfigured content (Business Content) is available on all three integration levels in SAP NetWeaver. This way, for example, buyers of Employee Self-Services as part of the mySAP Human Resources solution receive preconfigured Business Packages with portal content for loading onto the SAP Enterprise Portal. The Business Content speeds up the implementation and therefore reduces project duration and costs. Companies no longer have to develop this content themselves and can therefore reduce the associated risks during the project implementation period and the maintenance necessary during live operation.
Readily available capacity
The SAP applications run with SAP NetWeaver on a computer and network infrastructure, which becomes much more flexible as a result. This means that SAP NetWeaver delivers greater flexibility from a given infrastructure, whether it is mainframes, client/server architectures or any others.
SAP NetWeaver also supports blade servers, thus ensuring that processes are processed on a needs-driven basis and that technical resources are managed with the maximum of efficiency. This enables companies to share computing capacity between different blade servers, at busy times for instance. If for example the financial accounting function only requires computing capacity at certain times, the server resources are not used to full capacity at quieter times. With blade servers, existing computing capacity can be used flexibly for busy times, with the computing resources being used only as and when required. The number of servers can be reduced meaning lower running costs and less maintenance. This requires use of SAP NetWeaver and a flexible software architecture such as the Enterprise Services Architecture, which allows SAP customers to use every web service on any server of their choice. Hardware and software are thus coordinated with each other perfectly. Moreover, companies can operate the complete mySAP Business Suite on a single blade farm and do not have to let individual applications run permanently on particular servers.
SAP not only provides applications, but also a standardized application platform from SAP NetWeaver and the mySAP Business Suite, which allows companies to manage every aspect of the software life cycle. This application platform puts companies themselves in a position to model new processes and to develop the appropriate applications, enabling them to use their IT infrastructure efficiently and to its full capacity.