I happened to attend an introductory session given by Oracle regarding their Fusion product. The agenda covered various topics like Dataware housing, Portal and so on. But they specifically focused on SOA and their middleware called Fusion middleware. Having been a SAP XI consultant for the past one year, I was able to correlate between the integration tools provided by both the vendors. Finally what I could understand from their agenda was ,even though they started late in SOA arena when compared to SAP ,now they are trying to leverage the left out features of SAP to project the Fusion as complete SOA complaint product.
Though their complete customer release will be some time in the 2008, I could find some potential hotspots where SAP should also take a note of those points to keep NetWeaver the hottest platform for ESA. Few of such things are:
When it comes to SOA by means of web-enabling the application functionalities, SAP do have the right plan to orchestrate the web services exposed by different systems but not as much efficient as it has to be. In contrast Oracle people could show me some complex orchestrations which seem to be a pretty straight forward thing to do in Oracle BPEL Process Manager which is a BPEL engine for Webservices orchestration enabling you to define, design and execute business processes.
When it comes to the Business Activity Monitoring you could easily track the path of the orchestrated business processes that you have designed, during the runtime and this is yet another area where SAP has to do more since we have limited functionality in case of Business Monitoring.
As far as ws-security and ws-policy are concern, Oracles Webservices manager can enforce ws-secuiry or ws-policy at places in-between the business processes, wherever you want them to be and thats a single console where you could manage your Webservices too. Probably you might have got a question now like how does NetWeaver support WS-security and other standards, then read this What Technology Standards Does NetWeaver Support? where you could get an answer like the list of technology standards that are supported or will be supported in NetWeaver.But we may see a lot more from SAP for its How real is it to secure web services in SAP Netweaver today? in the days to come.
At the conclusion of that session I could feel a little hotness on my head to answer their question like SAP XI is recommended only if you have SAP application system at one end and how far its easy to implement business processes which comprises many heterogeneous non-SAP systems. That was slightly a toughest question for me to answer at that time. But I strongly believe SAP will reply back for those questions with their subsequent releases.
When considering all these, do we need to say that SAP is still lagging behind? No certainly not. It was the first vendor in the ERP market to leverage all the open standards, technologies and standards to build and enable strong ESA driven business solutions. As SAP was the initiator now its turn again to keep SAP NetWeaver, the strongest platform which enables you to drive innovation throughout your organization by recomposing existing systems while maintaining a sustainable cost structure. Finally, for all the above questions in my mind and to their question too, my answer is: Wait for SAP to service you with the next release and of course that is the brand style of SAP to stay ahead of the competition always.