Wouldn’t it be great if business applications from SAP’s independent software vendor (ISV) partners, which integrate with SAP Business Suite, would “work just like” SAP Business Suite solutions? Of course, as SAP employees we would like to see this very much. But seriously, our customers run large SAP IT shops. Having complementary ISV solutions, which they can administer and upgrade using their established SAP practices, makes customer adoption of such solutions so much easier.
This idea is the theme of a new set of guidelines by SAP for ISVs, which will see its first publication in October 2009. I say first publication because there is so much to say that we couldn’t write all we wanted to say about guidelines for SAP partners in the first version but we didn’t want to set a publication date in the distant future.
Rather, we’d like to offer the guidelines to ISVs immediately and let customers see them as well. For SAP customers, these guidelines are helpful when selecting SAP partner solutions. The guidelines work toward putting customers, partners, and SAP all on the same page when it comes to integrating partner solutions with SAP Business Suite solutions at customer sites.
The guidelines will be updated annually so that they can be extended and will continue to tightly align with the latest product developments on SAP’s solution road map. This enables solution partners to make effective choices among technology and integration options based on the most current innovations available from SAP Business Suite.
The SAP guidelines are grouped into six major focus areas:
- Application life-cycle management
- Process orchestration and service-oriented architecture
- User interface and user experience
- Data and information management
- Application development
- Governance and security
The recommendations we give are applicable to different approaches ISVs may take to developing their solutions:
- Develop and run on the SAP NetWeaver platform using either the ABAP or Java stack or
- Migrate a Java application to the NetWeaver Java platform or
- Choose any other platform (.NET, Ruby, C/C++, ….) and connect to SAP
All these approaches are valid and are covered by guidelines, which consider them individually. As the SAP Business Suite evolves and incorporates new innovations, some older technologies are naturally phased out. Therefore, some guidelines do not encourage or explicitly do not recommend certain technology usage. This way ISVs can better align with SAP’s product roadmap.
Now, what does a guideline look like? Here’s an example:
SAP recommends that ISVs name software components uniquely to avoid name collisions with SAP software and with software components from other SAP partner companies.
In Java, use package names to specify the namespace. You can either request a unique namespace from SAP, or you can use a namespace that is very unlikely to be used by another company, such as com.mycompany.myapplication (assuming that your company owns the domain name mycompany.com). An ABAP namespace, which must be registered with SAP, is three to eight capital letters bounded by slashes (for example, /MYAPP/).
To request and register namespaces and for more information, go to http://service.sap.com/namespaces.
As simple as this particular guideline is, when developing a business solution, there are a really large number of business as well as IT requirements to fulfill and having a comprehensive list of how to fulfill such requirements is a big asset and help to SAP partners, leading to better products for customers in terms of functionality, quality and TCO. Guidelines are structured as shown above. We focus on what to do and provide only links to how to do it. This way, our guidelines complement a great wealth of how-to information already provided on SDN, the SAP Service Marketplace, help.sap.com, and other sites by giving structured advice on what has to be done to develop best-built applications.
The guidelines are deeply rooted in SAP’s decades of experiences in delivering enterprise-class business solutions and are focused on architecture, drawn from industry standards as well as SAP’s own product standards, and last but not least from SAP’s experience of providing excellent support to customers. In fact, our support actually extends to our partners, as the following picture shows.
We do recommend that partners integrate with SAP Solution Manager, which can greatly streamline incident handling from customers, avoiding any double effort in opening trouble tickets and have them processed by SAP and partner support. This is just another example of what kind of guidelines we are providing.
Our Next Steps:
We are rolling out SAP guidelines for Best-Built applications through multiple channels:
- You can find always up to date versions on our web site: SAP Guidelines for Best-Built Applications
- A free downloadable pdf version of our guidelines
- A wiki version of the guidelines on SDN at
- Visit us at the TechEd 2009 conferences in Phoenix, Vienna or Bangalore. We present in session SOA206 as well as at the SAP PartnerEdge pod.
Your next steps:
We’d like to hear your feedback about our guideline initiative. By using SDN as our staging ground, we have some easy ways to collaborate. Provide your feedback as comment to this blog or if it is on some particular detail, add comments to our wiki or simply email us at email@example.com.