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Fill the skills gap with SAP Netweaver, Development Subscription

I recently read an article about the correlation of economic downtime and applications to grad schools.

Interestingly enough a lot of people choose to go back to school during rough economic climate to invest in their education and acquiring new skills to be prepared when the economy improves.


On my current project (a global HR portal implementation) we are soon loosing one of our key consultants as this person has decided to say goodbye to the great weather in the UK and head for a warmer place (much, much warmer place).

We need to fill this gap and by accident I got a message from a fellow SAP Mentor who is currently looking for a new engagement.

I forwarded the resume and the client decided to conduct the interview.

The client checked the resume and asked the person what he did to occupy his time from his last project up until now – last project ended end of 2008.


The answer given is what motivated me to write this blog as the person said that he used his time to update his technical skills using SAP Netweaver, Development Subscription.

His last roles in projects where more related to BPX and project management and he could not do much hands on technical work.

To refresh his technical expertise he decided to use SAP Netweaver, Development Subscription and also spend time on SDN to answer questions. We then discussed the details on what he did but it certainly impressed the client as it showed a self motivated individual and this is a key character trait to have in our implementation team.


I have used the SAP Netweaver, Development Subscription for almost a year and some of this time I spent on looking at stuff that I normally don’t get exposed to at projects e.g. BI/XI.

I am not pretending to be an expert in BI/XI but when I am managing implementations that include those products it helps to have a basic understanding and allows me to communicate with the subject matter experts in those areas better.


Even though you can’t change these difficult times you can make a decision to invest in yourself and the subscription program is certainly an option – well, it’s an option if you are living in a country where it is available.


There has been a lot of discussions around the new SAP certification process and levels but the client actually never asked about this during the interview – looked to me that carrying the SAP Mentor credential and having the experience he had was far more valuable to the client. I am in general supporting certification as it least shows some level of commitment but in this case it was not touched during the interview.


If you are a freelancer and live in a country where you can get the subscription program then   I would recommend giving this a second look – it’s not just great to update your skills but you can also get exposed to products that you are not familiar with and in times like these you need any competitive advantage you can get.


How about being able to tell clients that you not only worked on portal and KMC projects and about your experience but being actually able to show it to them right on your subscription system!

You can show various Uis you created for clients, a demo KMC setup and tools that you have developed to improve productivity – remember that seeing is believing.


If you think that you would not be able to install all the components of the subscription program then please note that there is plenty of help available in the Wiki area for different subscription landscapes and setups – even I was able to get it up and running.

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  • Hi Harald,

    I think you're spot on with this. The SDN Subscription program can be a brilliant way for freelancers to keep their edge whilst looking for new work.

    However there are a few slight problems with this, hopefully one just a temporary one. The first (and temporary one) is that SAP currently only offers the subscriptions in Germany and the US. I sincerely hope that this will go away anytime soon. Especially after the significant price drop the limitation to two countries surely is a major hold up. In addition, one should not underestimate the hardware costs, which I've covered in an interview with a friend and fellow consultant on my blog a while ago. Stefan Ressing notes that his hardware cost about $4000 !

    Moreover, a SDN Subscription "only" gives you access to the development platform, but not the specific application stack (ECC, CRM, etc), which means your apps and demos need to be stand alone. It also means that it is not that suitable for functional consultants or customisation/crossover work. From my own experience I have to say that it is the crossover area where I do most of my work these days. On the other end of this spectrum there are on-demand offerings such as , but these lack the ability to perform cross-client changes.

    There is still a lot of room for improvement on the SDN Subscriptions, but I totally agree with your judgement as far as keeping your skills up-to-date is concerned.

    Kind regards,
    Michael Koch

    • Thanks a lot for your comments - they are all valid and correct.
      We discussed the shortcomings of the subscription program at last TechEd in Las Vegas with Amir Blich and additional members of the team but not much has changed - OK the price came down which is great but still no availability in the UK.

      If you want to run all components of the subscription program then you will have to invest in hardware but just to give you some perspective - I installed it on an external mobile hard disk that is connected via USB to my laptop and running it via VMWare on SUSE Linux.
      Certainly not the fastest setup in the world but sufficient for me - startup in about 10 to 15 minutes (plugin to USB to login on EP).

      I would love to have full ECC but so far I was able to get around it.

      Hopefully I will see you on 4/4 at our event in London and we can chat more about it - maybe we should have a session about this topic!
      🙂 Harald

      • Harald,

        Thanks for your insightful blog. For those who want to know where they can find more on the SDN subscription program they can start at :

        Michael is right that there are limitations and that we only sell the subscription program online in the USA and Germany. However if you have a partner S number you can also buy the subscription license in your locale via the local partner sales team ( it is a perpetual license, a little different from what we offer online; but approx same cost if you use it 3 years in a row )

        We do not expect to launch this capability in any other country soon unfortunately; there are many tax and other revenue implications to manage and for a small team like ours this would be a large undertaking. Hopefully the other option I proposed can work for others like Michael in the UK.

    • Hi Michael,
      >> a SDN Subscription "only" gives you access to the development platform, but not the specific application stack (ECC, CRM, etc) <<
      This is not 100% correct. You will get a full access to an ECC, CRM, SRM etc. systems. Okay, you cannot develop on these systems, but you can develop SOA scenarios from your development system to these application systems.
      BTW: I'm a subscriber from the first "minutes" of the subscription program and very satisfied with it. And the best: now I have my own namespace: /se380/ what else 😉
      Regards, Uwe
  • Hi Harald,

    Thanks for posting this blog. It sends a very positive message to the community.  You provide some great suggestions for folks who may have a bit of down time and want to gain new skills.

    Anyone interested in learning more about the subscriptions, availalbe in the US and Germany please go to:

    As Marco already mentioned, we do not expect to expand the program to other countries in ’09.  For those of you who need a NetWeaver Development license outside of the US and Germany, please consider buying a perpetual partner or customer license instead.