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Some history on DUET releases

So first releases of DUET (1.0 and 1.5) were not exactly what we all hoped for. Providing more or less static scenario’s did not turned out to be the right approach. So back to the drawing board for SAP and Microsoft and rethink strategy and product design.

Currently the new DUET release called DUET Enterprise is here. First thing that cauth my attention is that is not a upgrade but a complete new product. You now have the formal release rebranded in “DUET for Microsoft Office and SAP Software” and the brand new “DUET Enterprise for Microsoft SharePoint and SAP Software”. The “old” DUET release has silently gone into maintenance mode with no additional developments planned. All bets are on the new DUET Enterprise release.

What about this new DUET Enterprise Release

So what has changed that made them decide to developed a new product. Simple where moving away from local office versions and are running webbased application. Microsoft has just shipped SharePoint 2010 and Office 10 to support this new way of working. The idea behind the new DUET enterprise is therefore simple. Microsoft SharePoint is broadly used (or at least MS is hoping for that with the new releases) to make it even easier for people to work together.  People can set up Web sites to share  information with others, manage documents from start to finish, and  publish reports to help everyone make better decisions. But to make better decisions you need data. Data stored in SAP systems that companies spend even more money on to support their processes and stay complaint.

This is exactly what the new DUET enterprise is providing. Create a collaboration enviroment within a SharePoint Site and include data from SAP systems via (enterprise) services. The demo on the DUET website provides a great insight in the possibilities and business value customers can get. Only downsite is that you wil need the latest and greatest product from both Microsoft and SAP to make it work.

What does DUET has to do with BPM?

But where does this lead us on the long run. (or maybe even on the shortrun when you are an IT architect and looking for the right strategy to follow) 

The following blog of Atanu Banerjee (DUET product mgt team) made me think. He explains that: “The idea (behind DUET Enterprise) is not to rebuild application interfaces that already  exist. Instead through Duet Enterprise we provide a set of application  building blocks from which new kinds of solutions can be composed” 

Now wait, compose new solutions sounds like composition enviroment and BPM approach in SAP’s minds. Is SharePoint (and therfore DUET) going here aswell. I would say so from Microsofts point of view.

But is it suitable to compose new, more transcational based, solutions?  I have already done some reviews on projects where this was the case. Customers building transactional processen in SharePoint interacting with SAP systems. I must admit that it worked at the end but complex development had to make sure compliance and datamanagement was kept in place. There was hardly anything left of the standard SharePoint functionality. Therefore from maintenance point of view it was not a classroom example of application design.

Forrester has acknowledge this in a study saying that “While SharePoint makes simple workflows easy to create, on its own it is  not suitable for business process applications”.

Forrester uses the following graph to explain the relationship between the transactional (SAP) world and the knowledge worker (Microsoft) world. I have found this one is very usefull in discussions with customers explaining product focus and finding the right areas to cover with the best suitable products.

image

 

I believe DUET Enterprise is the way to go for companies who are looking to cover the blue area. But be aware that on the left and right hand site there may be a better alternative.

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3 Comments

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  1. Tamas Szirtes
    Hi Pim,

    Excellent topic! It is already hard to position business workflow, ccBPM and NetWeaver BPM (luckily Guided Procedures are out of the game), but many companies have .NET UI strategy, which adds a lot to the challenge. SharePoint workflows have their strengths and it is not always easy to draw the line when to use Microsoft workflows (SP) and SAP workflows (NW BPM). In CE 7.3 the WS-HumanTask API will open new possibilities to create .NET UI’s for SAP NW BPM tasks.

    As a customer I would assess the requirements for such complex solutions very carefully to avoid over-engineered applications. For sure there are business cases for it, but I personally like the various portal federation techniques between SharePoint and the SAP NW Portal. It is much easier and faster to realize and the results are very good.

    Thanks, Pim, for bringing up this excellent topic!

    Tamas

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  2. Greg Chase
    Hi Pim,  What a wonderful blog.  I hope to see many more.  We can’t deny the presence or importance of Microsoft SharePoint.  Over half of SAP customers, by my unscientific count of those that send people to TechEd are customers of SharePoint.  And SharePoint provides an excellent environment for collaboration  and sharing of documents an information.
    I’m not sure I totally agree with the blue area of Forrester’s diagram.  It implies that the bulk of SharePoint’s value is in production workflow.  Whilst this is fine in terms of providing a UI for a BPM process, multiple Microsoft partners have sprung up who provide better support for BPM flows in a SharePoint environment.  (shameless plug – as Pim and Tamas have already mentioned, you can use SAP NetWeaver BPM & CE in a similar way).
    Also, BPM works very well in exception handling if people design a process for it.  I suppose by stating “adhoc exception handling”, what they really mean is “handling exceptions that haven’t had automation support rolled out yet.”  Really this is a matter of business case and importance.  If 20% of processes end in a certain kind of exception, you bet that a process extension will be designed for it sooner than later.\
    Thank you for taking the time for posting such a thoughtful blog.  I hope we hear more from you soon!
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