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Monday, April 11, 2005

Shai Agassi On Netweaver & ESA

( Via eWeek) In a consolidating endeavors software market, there are a lot of interest, expectations and concerns about the product, engineering and architectural roadmap of leading enterprise vendors. SAP's Shai Agassi believes that his realignment in responsibilities allows to look at a unified picture for technology and applications and accelerate the pace of adoption of NetWeaver into SAP suite of applications, as well as suites from one application to the rest of the stack. The big benefits, would be the proximity of application and infrastructure that are unified at the CTO level with the whole product and technology group working together with the objective to make all the pieces work in harmony, including NetWeaver and using NetWeaver. A lot of companies are building software and infrastructures that do not have applications next to them, so applications cannot influence the infrastructure. Excerpts with edits from an impressive interview:
Shai offers an insightful comparison between Oracle’s Project Fusion & SAP’s ESA : These are two very different approaches today. What is the platform? In the case of Oracle, the platform is the database, with a database-oriented architecture, compiled from the database up. That creates an interesting approach [and question]: "What is the center of the universe? Database or services?" When you look at the technical implications of it, there is a business sense for SOA [service-oriented architecture], and the business driver is flexibility. SAP is trying to give organizations the ability to rapidly change, modify and fit their IT environment to the business processes —and [enable] business process innovation in the business. When you're looking at trying to tie everything from the database up, the goal is cutting cost on the number of database servers.
On development synergies with Microsoft in SAP's future : At different levels the expectations from customers are that they want strong synergies from SAP’s set of applications and Microsoft. Integration between the two platforms—.Net and NetWeaver—needs to happen so there is no friction between end-user applications on .Net and back-office builds on NetWeaver. This is significantly different from Oracle, where there is no intention to interoperate with .Net.
Once SAP completes its ESA goal and componentizes its applications around 2007,- ERP as we know it becomes a lot more flexible. With an ERP package, the smaller you [make applications], the bigger you ship. Shai says,"The first car I had, had a car radio with three interfaces: power, antenna, speaker. Because it was very simple with three interfaces, you could always take the radio out and replace it. But there were no composite scenarios involved. Today, when I drive in Germany and there's an accident, the car radio changes to the accident channel. When the phone rings, the radio shuts down. It's all composite scenarios. But I can't buy a radio off the shelf—it's integrated into the dashboard". The configuration, the delivery unit, is the dashboard. [The same is true with ERP.] So you're not able to buy smaller pieces of ERP.(This one may be a bit controversial - lemme not comment on that now).But overall, what SAP is attempting is a truly big task - if SAP pulls this off in 2007 as promised, no doubt in the consolidated marketplace, SAP would assume a more dominant space.

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