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Author's profile photo Owen Pettiford

SAP Enterprise Services (ES) Packages – aka Applications from IKEA

It is accepted that in addition to innovation and flexibility, reuse is a key cornerstone of the business case behind Enterprise SOA. It is this reuse of standard Enterprise Services that means organisations can focus on developing innovative new processes to take on the competition, instead of implementing the standard functionality time and time again.  However getting people to reuse can be hard and one key reason is that to reuse something you have to understand it and to understand it you have to go through a learning curve.  What Enterprise Services (ES) Packages from SAP provide is a powerful concept and approach for getting business and IT professionals up this learning curve as quickly as possible. They also enable lessons learned by the SDN Community as well as co-innovation by the ES Community to be shared so the learning curve is shorter the next time.   To understand the power of Enterprise Services (ES) Packages I would like to draw an analogy to the world of furniture making (please stick with me).   50 years ago if you wanted a new piece of furniture you had 2 choices, you either commissioned a bespoke piece (very expensive, but exactly what you wanted) or you purchased from a furniture maker (still expensive and sort of what you wanted). Then Flat Packed Modular furniture was invented. This totally changed the furniture market, it opened it up to people who had not bought new furniture before, it created volumes that enabled manufacturers to cut the costs of furniture through economy of scale and importantly it did not put the (good) furniture makers out of business, because sometimes people still want that bespoke piece of furniture (to impress your friends or fit into that funny space).  Reflecting this example into the IT world, the bespoke furniture represents bespoke software houses, the furniture makers are the traditional (un-service enabled) packaged application vendors and the flat packed furniture makers are the providers of Business Process Platforms (e.g SAP).  So let’s looks at how Flat Packed furniture makers get us to buy their products.  1) Firstly they provide glossy brochures (or websites) that show us what could be achieved with their furniture range…..they don’t show real lounges or kitchens just examples that catch your interested and show you the “art of the possible”.  In the world of Enterprise SOA and Enterprise Services (ES) Packages this equates to the business scenarios and process descriptions that help you to understand what is possible and the potential business benefits.   2) (and this step is optional depending of how much I am spending – so key in the software world) They have shops where you can go and touch and feel the pretend rooms to see/feel the quality of the furniture and get design advice from trained staff.  In the world of Enterprise Services (ES) Packages  this equates to the wiki knowledge component that provides detailed information, advice, sample code and configuration to help define in detail exactly which components I need to implement.  3) Once I have selected a component they provide clear instructions in the flat pack as to how all the different parts fit together and how different components are connected together. You will see an overview picture of the final product, step by step instructions, a list of the tools needed and an estimate of the time required to assemble.  In the world of Enterprise Services (ES) Packages this equates to the detailed use cases and “how to guides” the wiki is linking and referring to, which means re-useable code blocks that can be bolted together.   It is great to see that in an SOA world where most vendors are talking about what might be possible with their technology stack, SAP is putting together business focused Enterprise Services (ES) Packages that provide clear step by step instructions on achieving real tangible business goals using Enterprise SOA.

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