NetWeaver Strategy Key Highlight of SAP TechEd Conference

The distinguishing factor SAP is seeking to establish is its partner-focused approach to building a community around NetWeaver, the underlying technology stack for its Enterprise Services Architecture. To this end SAP announced Tuesday its Enterprise Services Community Process, a developer’s forum focused on defining enterprise services and their underlying processes. The ESCP forum is modeled on Sun Microsystems’s Java Community Process, a tremendous open-developer community built around Java. The similarity to JCP is no accident. George Paolini, a former Sun executive who founded JCP, was hired by SAP last March to head its Platform Ecosystem Development team—and lead the ESCP charge.
In a March 23, 2005 interview with eWeek, Paolini admitted he will face a few more challenges in building out ESCP than he did with JCP. Dispelling the concept that SAP is proprietary “is a big piece of it,” said Paolini, in Palo Alto, Calif. “SAP was built on proprietary technology. Obviously the world has changed, and SAP has done a good job of changing with it,” said Paolini. “The goal here is really to take the rich heritage of the company, which is all built on ABAP language, and extend that through a set of WSDL interfaces as a set of services that can be incorporated into a set of applications.” Paolini’s first steps were to define how SAP will publish services. Now the goal is to determine the specific service interfaces for the community—a task SAP will undertake with partners.
The ESCP forum is geared toward developers in two distinct communities – ISVs that build applications to sit on top of NetWeaver, and technology vendors that build technology that NetWeaver sits on top of. To this end, SAP announced Tuesday six new technology partners that have agreed to license SAP’s ESA and certify their products for NetWeaver: Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Network Appliance, Research in Motion, and RSA Security. During its Sapphire user conference last May, SAP announced its first round of ESA supporters: Microsoft, Adobe, Cisco Systems, Computer Associates, EMC, Intel, Macromedia, Mercury Interactive, Symantec and Veritas.
The big deal behind the ESA license agreements is that these vendors will certify products around SAP’s services architecture—and add credibility to SAP’s technology direction. In return, the licensees will get early access to SAP’s services catalog, along with the tools to develop data schemas, user interfaces, application models and security features, SAP officials said. Companies that have signed on to help SAP develop the ESCP forum include Adobe, EMC, Intel, Mercury Interactive and Symantec. Oracle, too, is leaning toward a partner-oriented approach with its Fusion Middleware, though not close to the degree of SAP. At its AppsWorld user conference in San Francisco last week Oracle, which in the past has had difficult relations with ISVs, announced its Single Stop Support program that provides ISVs with better access to Oracle engineering resources.
During the four-day conference Oracle executives from CEO Larry Ellison to Co-President Charles Phillips also took liberal jabs at SAP, deriding its approach with NetWeaver, its support capabilities, even its ability to move entrenched R/3 users to the latest mySAP suite. While SAP officials, based in Walldorf, Germany and Newtown Square, Penn., for the most part take a ‘no comment’ approach in responding to Oracle’s digs, the software behemoth seems a bit rankled this time around. “The point is we are providing one unified technology stack that SAP is building on,” said SAP spokesman Bill Wohl. “Then you have PeopleTools, Nexus, WebSphere [with Oracle]. They are all over the place with no strategy and no clear direction. That’s the big difference. That’s very much the contrary of what we’re trying to do.”