SAP is currently running a series of SAP NetWeaver Portal – Partner Enablement Session Series covering the upcoming features of the Enterprise Portal in Netweaver 7.3. I have been attending these sessions and would like to share my thoughts on what I’ve seen so far. I guess I should also add a little disclaimer here insomuch as these are my personal views only based on what I have understood from the sessions.
So far I have attended 5 sessions; Portal Updates for the next 12 months (General Overview Session), Enterprise Workspaces, Portal Strategy, Web Page Composer and AJAX Framework I would like to address each in turn. I won’t address the General Portal Updates session directly since the content is covered in the follow on sessions. I will try to tackle two sessions per blog so that you don’t fall asleep 1/2 way through and so that I can actually get sometime posted in a reasonable timeframe! 🙂
Enterprise Workspaces (EWS)
EWS is a new concept in the EP that will be delivered as an add-on (I think it was said to be Adobe Flex based and is in fact the realization of the nearly forgotten Collaboration Portal beta from 2 years ago). Up until now we have had Collaboration Rooms and WPC and of course Portal page personalization by the end user, but EWS has a slightly different use case, at least the way I understand it.
The emphasis here is on enabling the end user to create custom workspaces in the portal that they can then choose to share with others or keep private. It is focused on mashing up structured content like applications and reports rather than unstructured content like web content or documents. Interestingly for partners there will be the opportunity to develop custom modules that can enable integration with 3rd party systems.
So my feeling on EWS is generally positive I like the open modular approach that SAP is taking, the biggest hurdle I think will be explaining the use case to the end users and portal owners/managers. Obviously it needs to work really well but it also has to be communicated correctly, otherwise I’m afraid it will just be too confusing. I think there may also be some resistance in organizations to give users that much control – so perhaps a subset of power users would be given this functionality and share their EWS with others in their particular area.
This is one session I was really looking forward to. After what seemed like ages I was excited to hear about what was in store for the portal (for some time I actually had started to think that the portal had been abandoned by SAP). So the main points I took away from this session were:
- The portal is all about multi-system access (unlike NWBC which connects only to one system at a time)
- There is a big focus on end user productivity and the concept of “SAP Portal for Me” was key. This was supported by EWS and next generation WPC and the ability for users to tailor and mash up content for their purposes.
- Community building – with the introduction of Wikis and Forums as integrated solutions.
- Improvements to KM UI – but KM will remain only for basic content management. There will be greater 3rd party integration options.
- For the IT team there will be simpler content creation and change management (CTS+), customized error pages and improved scalability and performance. Finally the portal will run on Java 6 and leave the old 1.4 version behind! 🙂
- Better alignment with standards like JSR 168/286 (I have heard this before… but I’m optimistic), support for SAML2 and better browser support including Safari (iPad-tastic!)
- Last but not least Portal IS KEY to the SAP UI Strategy… and won’t be going away any time soon.
So all this sounds great! When can we get our grubby little hands on it? Well the Beta shipment starts in May, so customers and partners should sign up now. There will be about a 2 month evaluation period with final feedback in July. General Availability of 7.3 is planned for the end of the year…
In the next installment of this blog I will cover the next generation Web Page Composer session and the session on AJAX Framework.