Enterprise SOA on a Silver Platter

Before the conference began, some 1,000 partners, customers, and SAP employees took part in a Community Day and discussed the challenges for companies and IT experts in various industries. Mark Yolton, vice president of the SAP community network, spoke of the important role played by software users and said that people are an increasingly important factor in innovative IT solutions. SAP has a strong foundation with its community network – and its new mentor program strengthens that foundation. The best active SAP experts use the network to gain early and direct access to new information. The network also allows them to share their knowledge quickly within their networks. Tim O’Reilly, founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, praised SAP for its active cooperation with the SAP community. “You guys are definitely ahead in this area,” he said.

Creating added value . . .

For O’Reilly, who coined the term “Web 2.0” in 2004, the success of the Internet largely depends on building networks. “Don’t restrict your ‘architecture of participation’ to software development. Involve your users both implicitly and explicitly in adding value to your application,” said O’Reilly in his opening address on his first rule for Web 2.0. Only a small percentage of users go to the trouble of adding value to an application. Companies can set inclusive defaults to improve the effect of networks.
“We have to turn IT inside out,” said O’Reilly. Where architecture is now predominately based on a processor at the core of a PC platform that runs the software, he said, the architecture of tomorrow consists of data at the core feeding a Web platform that runs the software. Applications and services must run on various devices – PCs, handhelds, and servers. The data itself is the quality standard of the future. Finally, companies need to offer their services over interfaces. O’Reilly concluded his remarks by closing the circle between networks and added value. “If the users of your applications aren’t surprising you by the way they use them, you’re doing something wrong. If they are surprising you, learn from them,” he said.

. . . through networks

In his keynote address, SAP Executive Board member Peter Zencke took up the themes of networks and the foundation of the SAP NetWeaver technology platform. “This puts a lot of pressure on our developers, but this is the best kind of pressure there is,” he said. In building the services of tomorrow, he said, SAP needs the help of its communities, and it needs to listen to and understand feedback so it can include the right services in its enhancement packages.
With enterprise SOA, SAP customers can coinnovate at a whole new level with their own customers and suppliers. According to Zencke, the window of opportunity for companies to make money with new products is shrinking, and companies are under increasing pressure to come up with new products. That’s why SAP is not just a platform player, but an open platform player. Enterprise SOA is the architecture that enables this collaboration and business network transformation, allowing companies to differentiate themselves from their competitors by focusing on what they do best.

SAP Business ByDesign: Service-enabled for the lower end of the midmarket

Instead of just a business process platform – SAP Business Suite on top of SAP NetWeaver plus enterprise services – Zencke highlighted the newest application from SAP: SAP Business ByDesign, a product for midsize companies with 100 to 500 employees. Like SAP Business Suite, SAP Business ByDesign runs on SAP NetWeaver and makes use of Enterprise Services Repository, which holds the services created by SAP and its network of customers and partners.
SAP provides new services for SAP Business Suite by releasing enhancement packages. SAP Business ByDesign does not have an installed base, so there is no need to integrate legacy systems because the legacy systems are mostly outdated. “This is not a solution for large enterprises – not even for the upper end of the midmarket,” emphasized Zencke. “This is a solution where we put everything into one application, including HR functionality, supply chain management, financials, and more, into a dense package that can run on one blade.”

Governance for new enterprise services

In a second keynote, SAP chief technology officer Vishal Sikka took the business process platform discussion in another direction. “How can we better expose the functionality of our applications,” he asked. As a start, said Sikka, SAP has unbundled SAP Business Suite in the form of enterprise services in Enterprise Services Repository to make applications more flexible. But Sikka feels that the company needs to do more. “Enterprise services are coming from a variety of networks, and things can get chaotic quickly.” Therefore, he said in conclusion, there is a need for governance to ensure integrity in the face of increased flexibility. This also means a consistent programming model – one that caters to a wide variety of users and that preserves coherency. In doing so, customers no longer need to make tradeoffs in performance and integrity due to increased flexibility.

Zia Yusuf, executive vice president of the global ecosystem and partner group, opened the general sessions of SAP TechEd ’07 Las Vegas with an announcement. Yusuf officially announced the availability of SAP NetWeaver subscriptions on SAP Developer Network – the first time SAP has offered such a program. It allows developers to order a personal license for SAP NetWeaver as an annual subscription on SAP Developer Network. Yusuf also announced the winner of the first-ever Enterprise SOA Showcase Contest, in which community members voted for the best example of how enterprise SOA provides value. Sharp Electronics was the winner. Sharp integrated enterprise SOA with PayPal and other interfaces. By doing so, Sharp was able to increase its sales by approximately eight percent.

Perry Manross