SAP has a great product in NetWeaver, but it needs a better support model to make NetWeaver a real market leader!
I may be very young when it comes to the software and Web development field, but one thing I know for sure is that in order for a product to thrive it must have excellent support. I’ve come across so many shareware and even freeware programs (the like that are open source) that are so great to use because you know that bugs do get fixed and the product does get better within a shorter turnaround then most, if not all, commercial software.
I’ve always found products like the coveted Microsoft Office products to be flaky here and there, but if you post a suggestion or bug report – you’d be lucky if that gets fixed. Is it because you, as a single user, represent such an insignificant userbase that corporations like Microsoft just don’t care about your opinions? Well, the sad part is that this is likely true. Unless you’re a major player in the software market and likely a partner to Microsoft, your needs are addressed before those of the frustrated end user working for one of the hundreds of thousands of corporations across North America.
Well, enough about Microsoft. How about SAP? I recall some time back when a member of the core development team of SAP NetWeaver approached me and we sat down to go through suggested bug fixes and enhancements to really improve the whole developer and end user experience with the SAP Portal (now NetWeaver) product. To this day, I’ve seen none of my requests realized, even though the developer and I agreed it would be a valuable addition or modification to their product. This is quite disheartening when I’ve developed such a kinship to a product that has really boosted my career and software development profile.
So, how does this whole Hot Fix, Patch and so forth model work at SAP? Who advises SAP to fix this and that? Do we, the corporate customers influence these fixes? Or, is there a higher presence ? I hate to sound like I’m complaining but I want SAP to know that I really care for their product, but I don’t know if my needs are being addressed.
To the team at SAP, I’ve become an avid user and supporter of your product. I think it’s time you give your existing customer base something in return. And, that is a far superior support system, quite possibly through SDN, and one where we don’t feel like we have to wait for a series of Hot Fixes or Patches to continue using your product as it becomes more embedded and integrated into our infrastructure.
I hope other customers understand this feeling and can agree that if SAP can improve their support, SAP NetWeaver will regain its status as the #1 portal product on the planet. SDN is a wonderful start, I believe, and potential customers and new customers will appreciate it, I’m sure. Great work, but don’t stop here!
My other ranting point is with EP6. My job is Portals Principal with an SAP Partner company. I would love to be able to play with EP6 both to gain experience, and to be able to feed back to SAP where there are problems or possible improvements - and yet partners are not allowed software which is on ramp-up. EP6 will be GA before I can even install it! Surely partners should get earlier access - this would be mutually beneficial, after all.
- Darren Hague
You did mention that software/web dev. was a bit new to you, so I can forgive some of the misinformation. However, I take issue with a few points in your weblog that I thought needed clearing up. I just thought I would try to shed some light on them....
(1) I think you are a bit misinformed with your quotes "... SAP Portal (now NetWeaver) product..." and "...if SAP can improve their support, SAP NetWeaver will regain its status as the #1 portal product on the planet.". First off, NetWeaver is NOT SAP's portal product. That product is quite ingeniously enough called "Enterprise Portal" (via it's evolution from "Workplace" -to- "Workplace XP" -to- "Enterprise Portals" (the short lived Top Tier and SAP spin-off) -to- "Enterprise Portal". "NetWeaver" is more of an encompassing idea if you will (or "marketting term" if you prefer..haha). It FINALLY puts a name around all the many underlying technologies that SAP utilizes (though I still get a kick out of recruiters posting needs for resources "with NetWeaver experience"...haha).
(2) To this statment "will regain its status as the #1 portal product on the planet."....SAP has NOT held that status. That belongs to a little product/company by the name of Plumtree. Doing a bit of competitive analysis will show you the marketshare held by Plumtree in the portal marketspace blows away (or historically has) all other competitiors (SAP, Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, etc). That (Plumtree) is THE company SAP "went gunning for" when Workplace evolved from 2.x to 3.0 (or what became EP5.0). I was actually at the Wokrplace 3.0 bootcamp in Atlanta, and I can not begin to count the number of times I heard Plumtree mentioned (as well as the mantra "Workplace is NOT a web GUI, Workplace is a web portal!"...haha). Looking at both now, the architecture is VERY similar. I DO agree with you however in that SAP has a superior product. Enterprise Portal is a true "next generation" portal (and one of the few that can make that claim). We all just need to spread the word to the masses now. =)
(3) With your underlying premise...that SAP needs better support for their products (althought your statement seems more directed at the portal, let's address support overall), keep in mind the size of SAP. Because you have a great idea or suggestion or even locate and resolve a bug, there is still a process that must be adhered too. SAP can not simply send out a patch on a whim. Each and every "touch point" must be analyized and tested. When considering all the many products, possible configuration combinations and customizations, and underlying architectures, then I think you can fully appreciate the effort. Once done, I think SAP does a good job on communicating patches and upgrades and issues and such to it's customers through it's many outlets (web sites, help desk, emails, etc). They too have refined this process (think back to before "Hot Patches" were around...ick!). Just look at the latest capabilities now (ie. in R/3 for example, you can upgrade speciic modules without upgrading everything as once before).
Geeezz.....look at me.....where has the time gone....I got on a rant it seems and have run on and on. Anyways, I just wanted to delve a bit deeper into your statments and try to clear up some misinformation (and maybe provide further direction for others that read this afterwards). My $0.02...thanks for reading. =)
Chris Solomon, "Sr.Consultant to the Stars" (hehe)