Infoworld reports, By 2007, SAP plans to have all its applications running on a new platform, to be based on the company's NetWeaver integration platform.The new technology, which the company is simply calling Business Process Platform, will lead to an "industrialization of the software industry" similar to the industrialization of the auto industry, according to Chief Executive Officer Henning Kagermann. Mr.Kagermann provides some perspectives on key themes:
On Netweaver: NetWeaver is an integration platform. SAP has integrated many technical tools into it so that customers can integrate their legacy systems with SAP technology more easily. The flagship product, is already running on NetWeaver, plans are on to have the entire mySAP Business Suite on the platform this year. Behind NetWeaver is a fundamental shift in architecture, which we call enterprise service architecture, or services-oriented architecture as it is also called in the industry. The idea behind this architecture is to give people on the outside access to functions inside our technology. In this sense, NetWeaver is a kind of composition platform for them to compose services.
On Change Into Business Process Platform: NetWeaver, is being extended to adapt more quickly to new business models and be more innovative with their use of business software in the future, then they also need to be able build new services faster and with greater flexibility. To achieve this, generic enough technology, such as components, business objects and processes like billing, shall be put into an application platform. So if a company wants to develop a new add-on application, it now has access to functionalities such as CRM (customer relationship management) and SCM (supply chain management) through open interfaces. This is creating reusable processes at the application level and combine these with NetWeaver.. It's essentially an evolution of NetWeaver with the added capability to run ready-to-run processes.Interoperability will be continued and the platform shall be based on open architecture and the complete portfolios may be available by 2007. SAP To Turn NetWeaver Into a Business Process Platform
Jim Shepherd of AMRResearch writes, after a very careful and well considered analysis,"SAP is a company at the top of its game, but it is about to take a remarkable gamble. The hardest thing to do as a market leader is introduce a product or concept that directly challenges the paradigm that led to your success.There is no guarantee (or even strong indication) that the idea of buying a configurable set of process components or Web services will appeal to buyers that are used to buying predefined application suites. Even if the concept succeeds, there is no guarantee that anyone will choose to buy these components from SAP, or be willing to pay prices that approach today’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) license fees. Unlike most multibillion-dollar companies, SAP continues to be run by engineers who are genuinely committed to the spirit of innovation and don’t seem to worry much about job security. SAP is about to take its flagship product through a profound architectural change; SAP customers need to spend the time to really understand what this will mean for them. Definitely SAP is betting a lot and in the process wants to move as ana aggressive player into web services and SOA centric world. SAP's netweaver is a mixed bag in terms of market adoption and the fresh moves by SAP - quite a big planned leap needs to be definitely closely monitored. This is a shift from being feature rich enteprise software world to compenentised webservices centric building blocks aggregator world.
Update: I had been doing involved research in the course of the day - spoke to several people - industry consultants, analysts, existing SAP customers, few others who matter - what SAP is trying to acheieve is indeed a very significant architectural shift and I am reasonably certain that SAP is definitely geared to pull this off - in terms of planning, managing, resourcing - financial and engineering skills. This initiative of SAP would definitely qualify to be among the largest package centric engineering being attempted in recent times in the IT industry.