There is a market movement towards consolidation and standardization on SAP.

The big question is : Are customers moving towards making SAP the center of their IT universe ? In this article, we provide you a glimpse of the market observations and the rationale towards IT platform consolidation and standardization. Later, in this article series, I would take up each SAP component and discuss its positioning within an SAP centric Enterprise Architecture as part of our SAP Netweaver architecture services.

SAP Technology Evolution-Is SAP a business software company or a technology platform company ?
SAP always had technology to support its ever expanding business software footprint. The original ABAP application server is certainly the oldest in the application server market (older than Java). The execution model resembles that of TP-Monitors (such as Tuxedo) which were the earliest form of application servers in the market. ABAP continues to be a rock-solid high performant application server within the SAP technology product portfolio.

Over the years, SAP continued to add technology support to address customer requirements and counter innovation from best-of-breed competitors. Under the mySAP brand and the New Dimensional Products, SAP added technology capability through products such as ITS, mySAP Workplace, SAP BW, SAP BC (partnering webMethods), BSP framework etc.

SAP NetWeaver:
The Brand SAP acquired Top Tier in 2001 – this was a first major component within SAP with a significant J2EE footprint. SAP acquired InQMy, and decided to standardize on J2EE standards as the other ‘de-facto’ standard next to ABAP. At this time, SAP had all the major technology moving parts in various stages of maturity in its product portfolio.And then, SAP announced SAP NetWeaver (beginning 2003).

SAP Netweaver brought all the different technology components under a single Brand. This gave a simple powerful message to the market in terms of the technology direction of SAP:

Here is a complete technology stack from SAP that you could use for most of your technology plumbing and enablement.It is based on open standards and not on traditional SAP proprietary frameworks.
This is a stack from SAP that would continue to mature and refine as proven by SAP track record for SAP R/3.

In my perception, at this time, SAP Netweaver was not competitively positioned to compete headlong with the traditional technology platform players such as IBM, Oracle and BEA.

SAP NetWeaver vs. The Others- How does SAP NetWeaver product set compare with other mainstream technology platform vendors?

  • IBM : WebSphere Portal, WebSphere Content Management, DB2 Analytics, WBI (formerly CrossWorlds), WebSphere J2EE Server, DB2 Database, MDM (formerly Trigo)
  • Microsoft: Sharepoint Portal, MS Content Management, SQL Server Analysis Services, BizTalk, .NET CLR, SQL Server
  • Oracle: Fusion stack
  • SAP NetWeaver: Enterprise Portal, KM / CM, SAP BW, SAP XI, SAP WAS (J2EE, ABAP), SAP MaxDB, SAP MDM

Why is SAP NetWeaver an important Platform?
In today’s marketplace, the platform is the differentiator between SAP and Oracle, the analysts talk about SAP Netweaver and Oracle Fusion.Functionally, SAP and Oracle are comprehensive in their business support. ERP is no longer the differentiator.

SAP Netweaver gets all the Technology Components under one Brand.Message to SAP Customers to start standardizing on NetWeaver for their Enterprise-wide Technology Platform. SAP is now moving center-stage into the space of defining Enterprise Architecture.Recently, there started an interesting debate on – Does ERP Matter ?

This highlights the ever increasing importance of the enabling platform – SAP NetWeaver.

What are customers doing about SAP NetWeaver?
Today, organizations have business plans of hyper growth over the next 3-5 years – business strategies of mergers acquisitions, new markets and operational excellence (Think Global, Act Local). The business imperatives translate to high degree of IT agility through lower costs.

The IT strategy is converging to the following key principles:

  • Simplification of Applications and Instances (Portfolio Rationalization)
  • Standardization of Technology and Platforms
  • Rationalization of Processes

Over the last several years, IT strategy shied away from a single vendor approach:

  • Investment in best-of-breed business applications such as Forecasting, Demand Planning, Replenishment, Logistics Optimization…
  • Investment in best-of-breed Technology components (Portal, Middleware, Data Warehousing, Application Server…)

However, due to the above stated business imperatives, customers are now leaning towards standardizing on a single vendor for all technology/ business needs – be it SAP or non-SAP.
The fact is – several SAP Customers are now standardizing on SAP NetWeaver as the single technology platform for all their Technology requirements.v

The bigger fact is – certain customers are making SAP the center of their Business AND Technology Universe.

Customer Recommendation on SAP NetWeaver:
Under the current business imperatives of enhanced agility with limited IT budgets, the IT strategy of simplification and standardization does have tangible benefits.If you have significant investments in SAP for running your business, it may make tremendous business sense in standardizing on SAP NetWeaver for your technology platform.

Yes, you do have to take stock of your current application portfolio and determine the future state enterprise architecture. However, standardizing on SAP NetWeaver has compelling advantages which should be factored into your future-state architecture.

If you have plans for a comprehensive deployment of SAP Business Systems (ERP, CRM, SRM, SCM, PLM…), standardizing on SAP Netweaver for your enterprise platform can give tremendous synergies towards unified Solution Management.

Need Help:

In case you need assistance in SAP Netweaver landscape planning and SAP enterprise architecture, please contact us. Please send us your questions, comments or assistance request, and our team would be glad to assist you.

By Manish Agarwal (on behalf of SAP Team)

SAP :: Streamlined

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