While these things are certainly a part of ESA, the message from SAP came across as sort of a matter of fact approach to pure technology concerns. As Henning Kagermann pointed out in his keynote, ESA is indeed big, but its really a long overdue facelift to make IT more valuable to the business. And what I saw from the executive keynotes on down to the individual presentations was a simple theme that goes something like this:
We told you about ESA in 2003. Were halfway through our roadmap and are successfully delivering according to plan. We feel very confident we will reach our stated goals of fully ESA enabling the SAP applications suite by 2007.
The bottom line message was about execution and not hype. And it was about the marriage of business with technical innovation rather than simply neat technology.
So here were my main takeaways:
Fist was Henning Kagermanns keynote as mentioned above. All I can say is good things come in small packages. He summarized the last three years worth of books and articles on SOA and Business Process Platforms in a single hour. Its well worth the time for you to view the replay and unpack it to really understand the implications of ESA and the characteristics of a great BPP. Even better pass it on to those who need the education.You can find that replay here.
In Shai Agassis keynote he commented on the fact that during 2003-2005 the Netweaver components have received the greatest attention from customers and partners because they are tangible. However once the Enterprise Repository is available for evaluation later this year it will become clearer how the overall ESA vision comes together.
Along those lines there is an important shift in how Netweaver itself is now being presented by SAP. Gone is the famous refrigerator diagram as the individual components (EP, XI, MDM, BI, etc.) are fading to the background. The focus is now on IT Practices which represent business enabling competencies that are realized by combining the components. These IT practices are part of the roadmap to implementing Netweaver and will be vital to successful ESA adoption planning.
Most interesting to me was the big-time partnering SAP is engaged in to create a full ecosystem in support of ESA. The featured keynote partners were like a whos who including Microsoft, HP, Intel, and Cisco. These werent typical market-tecture only announcements. There is deep integration at an R&D level taking place which is quite exciting.
Mendocino demos showed how the integration between Microsoft Office productivity tools and unstructured information management will be embedded within SAPs business process platform and vise versa.
Meanwhile Cisco and IBM highlighted the future of intelligent hardware and networking that are so important to ESAs realization. In order to have a better business dial tone infrastructure, servers and devices must themselves become more “services aware” in terms of the business application environments support. This will enable bandwidth shaping, QOS, execution monitoring and so forth to be taken to new levels based on business transaction value. Expect a lot of complexity in the computing stacks while this gets sorted out. And the implication is infrastructure groups need to be part of the enterprise architecture planning from more than the typical capacity and avalability perspective.
Not surprisingly the word on the floor was split between optimism and pessimism. I think those in the latter camp are realizing three things. ESA adoption is coming sooner than they thought. ESA adoption is much more than a product or package, and there are no silver bullets being promised this time. Lastly, they have to raise their games as ESA requires more organizationally and from a leadership perspective than they previously realized.
If I were handing out midterm grades Id say SAP earns an A- / B+ at the midpoint of its ESA vision. A heckuva lot of impressive execution has taken place, but until the Enterprise Repository is unveiled, more ISVs are engaged, and the ESA Adoption Program hits full stride well leave room for improvement. The consistent message in Boston was extremely encouraging as the momentum is really picking up. And as you can see from the above there is a lot for you to consider in building out your strategic adoption roadmap.