SAP TechEd Las Vegas 2012 is over, what lasts is the information shared. What stands out from all the information shared for SAP Portal? What is the key message from SAP regarding their portal offering?
First, the focus on TechEd 2012 was not on 7.0 portal. That makes sense, as TechEd is an event with an education focus from SAP for customers. Second, the number of ASUG session related to SAP Portal were almost non-existing. The ASUG session about the Portal Influencer Council was more or less the only session where customers presented their experience with the SAP Portal.
Note: the ASUG influencer council is ready to accept new participants. Just get in contact with the council chair (Jerzy Bilchuk, Intel) to find out how to participate.
That said SAP presented sessions about 7.3 and on-demand portal.
SAP Portal 7.3
Besides the hands-on workshops, the 7.3 related sessions clearly laid the focus on the on device portal. It comes out of the box starting with 7.3 SP5 and in the latest SP8 release; it adds new features like smartphone support, and that is without having to apply an EHP. This means that as of now, the SAP Portal 7.3 offers a framework for enabling mobile access to the SAP Portal, allowing for mobile consumption of KM documents, search, roles, iViews. POD is not a separate product; you gain it “for free”. It is excellent for not only trying out mobility, but for workflow light online mobile application (approve, reject, list information), and given the licensing model, it is for the masses.
The problem with POD is that you actually does not come with applications. It is a framework for mobile devices. You have to check for every existing application if it will actually work on a mobile device (hint: tablets are likelier to show a WDJ/A application). It leaves you with the task to develop applications that can be used on a mobile device. As mobile app development is slightly different from what portal developers are currently used to (WDJ/A or HTMLB applications), this is as of now the only “problem”. This is not a real problem as the SAP Portal offers a nice framework for backend connectivity and portal development that makes it easy to bring SAP data to a mobile device.
And that brings us to the future of Visual Composer (VC). As you know, the Israel Portal team made a HTML5 runtime for VC. This is the perfect solution for modeling apps that will run on all browsers, be it mobile or desktop. The question is now if the HTML5 runtime will actually make it. Best thing is that all of you talk to SAP and make it clear that a HTML5 modeling tool for SAP is needed.
If I understood this correctly, POD comes with two kinds of landings screens: one you get out of the box, the other you get when you do have Enterprise Workspaces installed.
Any other new information regarding Portal 7.3 was not really available, as 7.3 is already GA since last year. Moreover, if you know 7.0 you more or less know everything you need to run a 7.3 portal (Business Packages, user administration, customizations, etc.).
While nothing new happened on the basic Portal product, SAP showed the new NetWeaver Cloud Portal. The workshops were full, people creating their own portal sites, showing that SAP actually made an easy to use product (yes that is possible).
To use NWCloud Portal you do not have to be a SAP Portal customer, or even be an existing SAP customer at all. It is important that you do not treat NWCloud Portal as an external facing portal optimized implementation of the on-premise portal. NWCloud Portal It is 100% new. SAP won’t be SAP if there won’t be a integration option for existing SAP Portal customers. NWCloud Portal runs on top of NWCloud (PaaS), and cloud <-> on-premise integration is a huge topic. The use case of combining Portal 7.3 and NWCloud Portal was explained several times, and NWCloud Portal with Portal 7.0 should be possible. What to keep in mind here is that you can run NWCloud Portal standalone with the option to combine it with your on-premise portal. In that case, the users will access NWCloud Portal from the internal network, answering also the question how on-premise content is going to be integrated. For exposing SAP data to external users, a connecter is available, but you will have to write a portal application that consumes this data. Nice fact: NWCloud Portal lays its focus on mobile first. Who thought that 3 years ago?
If you want to try NWCloud Portal out, a free trial version is available.
Portal on device as well as the NWCloud Portal make it clear that you will have to code your own applications that fill the frameworks with content. While for the POD this task will be yours, for NWCloud Portal it will be interesting to see if SAP, Partners or independent consultants will provide applications. NWCloud Portal is a separate product, if you are an existing on-premise portal customer, you’ll have to pay extra licenses for it.
What is the key message communicated by SAP and the portal team? The SAP Portal portfolio is changing. For the on-premise version this means that while it is considered stable, SAP will do its best to ensure that customers get the best out of their existing investment. Meaning: while new features like POD will be added, do not expect a radical shift in the portal offering. The portal will continue to offer the same functionality you have today (BP, Roles, application development, access to SAP), it will evolve depending on market demand.
The situationis completely different for the NWCloud Portal, as SAP was able to focus on a new offering, without having to look back and take too much care about backward compatibility. This will allow for a new kind of portal experience. How this will evolve over the years will be interesting to see. And for those who do not just want to observe: go and create your own NWCloud Portal.