As a SAP Mentor in the area of SAP Portal and Knowledge Management & Collaboration and an owner of a SAP NetWeaver Development Subscription, I would like to take the opportunity of the SCN subscriber contest to write about my impressions of the SDN Subscriptions.
I am working as an independent consultant specializing on SAP NetWeaver Portal for more than 7 years now. I’ve done my first installation of SAP Enterprise Portal 5.0 when I was working for KPMG Consulting early 2002 and was very excited to learn about the new SAP technology and the capabilities of the framework. In 2003, I joined a special expertise partner for SAP NetWeaver Portal, btexx business technologies GmbH, and specialized on doing portal implementations from small to large scale. During that time, I realized pretty quick the difference between a good and a great consultant. A good consultant is always able to provide the best solution and answers for the client but the significant difference is that the great consultant is always a step ahead of the client when it comes to knowledge. In this article I would like to write now, why I think that the SAP NetWeaver Development Subscription can help you achieve the extra step.
When you try to learn about the latest features of a SAP product, you can always go to the SAP Release Notes at help.sap.com and read this very valuable information for every consultant, but there is always the difference between having read something and having done something. Therefore I was very happy when I saw that SAP made NetWeaver trial versions available for download. With an extremely easy and fast installation I was able to have an own installation where I could get hands-on experience with the SAP NetWeaver technology. But I also realized two very big disadvantages of the trial version. First, it is not suited when you want to develop your own software over a longer period of time, as the trial version expires after 90 days, and second, it is also not suited when you want to have the latest version running locally. Of course there are workarounds, but those are not the things that you want to waste your time with. Therefore I was very happy that my old employer, as a special expertise partner, was able to apply for a license key for my local portal installation. Now, as a freelancer, this is for me the perfect way at a decent price to get my own license keys, and also an S-user with access to Service Marketplace and the SAP Support. I am treated as a regular customer when I have problems with the installation or the product itself.
There are of course other advantages of purchasing a SAP NetWeaver Development Subscription, like the access to virtual classes from SAP TechEd. It’s great to be able to see a full presentation of a session you have missed (or was not able to attend) rather than only the slides that you have found somewhere on SCN. I wish that SAP would also film the hands-on sessions and make them available in the virtual classes section, because those are the most valuable sessions at the SAP TechEd, in my opinion.
I should also mentioned that I still see a lot of room for improvement for the SCN Subscription Program. Making the installations available as a VMWare image would be great value for someone who is not interested in dealing with the installation process. Even more important in my personal opinion would be to provide a IDES system as part of the subscription package, or at least to provide meaningful test data together with the systems.
In June I am planing to start a new company (to be announced) together with some friends, specializing on SAP NetWeaver Portal applications and I see the SAP NetWeaver Development Subscription as the cornerstone for our success. I believe that freelancers and start-up companies have with the subscription the best offer to create their own development and demonstration systems and to be successful in the SAP area, without having to invest too much money.