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Why Netweaver as Composition Platform matters? Part I

For the past year, I was very fortunate to bring to a variety of customers, independent software vendors (ISV) and system integrators (SI) in North America and India the ESA vision and execute on it using Netweaver as a composition platform. In my India journey I met several SAP Offshore consultancy partners. Because it was so rich in terms of concepts, approaches, technologies, and people, I thought it’d be good to think it over and extract the essence of such journey and share it.  In the part I of this story, I’ll introduce you to the benefits, challenges and opportunities learned from these experiences. In the part II, I’ll make an attempt to talk methodology used throughout because unfortunately I couldn’t make use of the ASAP methodology. In the part III, I’ll do the same with process design or how to take a process model and produce a technically implementable process .Then in part IV, I’ll go into process implementation where I’ll describe the technical realization.  Everybody benefited from it: –     For SAP, it was the increase in the platform adoption –     For the customers, it was about understanding the moving parts of the ESA strategy (the Platform, the Enterprise Services, the Ecosystem, the Composition Paradigm, the BPX, the Enterprise SOA, the SAP xApp Certified program…) and how they can start executing on it –     For the ISVs, it was about understanding the value proposition of Netweaver as the Platform to deliver next-generation applications or composite applications and how they can start executing on it  their Product Strategy and Development  The challenges were quite significant: –     It’s quite overwhelming for SAP customers and partners to make practical sense out of SAP brilliant new strategy and technologies. Despite Shai Agassi’s effort to clearly outline an execution path (refer to ES Ready,, the harsh IT reality seems to leave little room for innovation to happen. –     Readiness to execute on the ESA or Enterprise SOA is hindered by lack of maturity of Platform as well as skills available in the market –     To be fair to the technology, other elements played their parts in the overall confusion like the introduction of new groups (ES Community, Emerging Solutions,…) at SAP, “creative” marketing (the famous and mysterious 500 Enterprise Services), new programs (SAP xApp certified), new concepts (BPX), …  But the opportunities were consequently significant: –     For the customers, the composition paradigm presents an opportunity to break away from the dead-end of the traditional application development approach where resource constraints simply cannot allow IT organizations to deliver to their business units as effectively as needed. Once they realized the potential of Netweaver as a composition platform through one successful prototype, it was easier for them to start planning for more. And eventually they started rethinking their planning and execution capabilities for productive scenarios. For example, it’s hard to argue when the customers put a critical process together in a matter of days while reusing as much as possible of existing applications with the least amount of code. Just to plan such development effort using traditional means would have probably taken that long. In another example, when the customers realize how they can start enabling their Business Analysts (SAP would call them BPX now I guess) to realize and maintain their requirements without involving too much of the IT organization, they see an end to IT bottlenecks and the ability to move towards the Agile and Flexible Enterprise. –     For the ISVs, they have the same resource problems building and maintaining their traditional applications. But the potential that the composition paradigm presented to them in terms of accelerated time-to-market and highly flexible applications is enough was worth their investment in Netweaver as composition platform. For example, when the ISVs realize that it took days not weeks, weeks not months to translates market requirements into new marketable solutions after the first prototype, they started right away with rethinking their planning and execution capabilities. One more substantial benefit for the ISVs to develop composite applications with Netweaver is that they can get their solutions certified by SAP under the “SAP xApp Certified” program. That’s one great way to gain exposure and credibility within SAP large customer base. –     For the SIs, the potential comes in two folds. The first one and by far the greatest, is that they can complement their service portfolio with solutions. They would own the intellectual properties for those solutions. They could even get reseller agreement with SAP to jointly go-to-market. Because of their extensive knowledge of business requirements, it’s easy and justifiable from a ROI standpoint for them to build and maintain composite applications as opposed to developing traditional applications. Basically with building composites they add another revenue stream to their business. The other potential for the SIs is the service revenue stream they can generate from their expertise in building Netweaver-based composites. Similarly to the ISVs, the SIs can leverage the “SAP xApp Certified” program to market their solutions.  Embracing Netweaver as composition platform was a 100% hit to whoever got technically enabled not so much as a revolutionary step but more as a necessary evolution to deliver on the promises of the Agile and Flexible Enterprise. Obviously the market reaction to such innovation will take its own time. But the organizations who are making the most use of it and reorganizing around it will gain a significant first-mover advantage over their competition and the market overall. The other elements of SAP strategy will also play a significant role of course. So while the whole world is waiting for SAP Enterprise Services, the ESR, BPP and the rest, starting with Netweaver and composing your innovative business processes with it can certainly be a good starting point.

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