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Like the fall of the Berlin wall, the assassination of John Lennon or the day Neil Armstrong took his giant leap for mankind, Wednesday 5th June 2013 will enter the annuls of history as SAP’s where were you when moment…

Ok, maybe a little melodramatic, one might even say a poor attempt at some tabloid style headline rhetoric, but whatever you feel about the first few lines of this blog, if, like us, you’ve been investing heavily in SAP’s flag ship Web Channel Experience Management (WCEM) juggernaut, the announcement probably left you wondering if all the wheels hadn’t just fallen off your multi-channel car.

To say this announcement came as a shock, would be to underestimate the furore that it has generated, both in the community groups and the internet at large.  The weeks since have been awash with near endless speculation and rumour as to the merits and motivation for this acquisition, with opinion ranging from excited anticipation to frustrated consternation, and generous helpings of plain old dazed and bemused in between. However, regardless to which camp you have currently hitched your wagon, the same burning question still exists… to which basket should I currently be stashing my proverbial e-commerce eggs?

Before we get going on the meat and potatoes of this blog, I think now would be a good time to reflect on the history of SAP’s e-Commerce solutions and consider how this has motivated the recent announcements.  Whilst the thrust of this article is not a SAP E-Commerce history lesson (Ingo Woesner has already done a great blog on the Evolution of SAP’s E-Commerce solutions), we believe that this does provide some interesting information for framing the story so far.

– The History –

The evolution of SAP’s e-Commerce platform has been a long and sometimes frustrating journey. From those tentative first steps with the ITS, to the launch of their much loved, but often maligned ISA solution, right through to today’s state of the art WCEM platform (and recently announced Hybris acquisition) there has often been much to debate.

For us, ISA was their first serious move into the e-Commerce market, it’s obvious advantages of tight integration and generally competitive functionality offered a compelling argument for many customers (large and small) who saw adopting this platform as a coherent and complementary strategy for their e-Commerce aspirations.  With some attention to detail, a reasonable budget and a little time and effort, ISA could be fashioned into a product that provided a pretty good customer experience, yet allowed the IT department to leverage their core investment in SAP skills to support.

However, this was the era of the internet bubble, before long SAP faced some stiff competition in the market place, as the pace of development picked up, their resolve seemed to falter and they took their foot of the gas.  Their original promise of tight integration (particularly for SAP CRM customers) still rang true, but could no longer be counted as the compelling argument it once was, other vendors stole a march.

To think that SAP made no notable extension to ISA would be inaccurate; CRM 4.0 saw the completion of “e” commerce holy trinity – sales, service and marketing.  CRM 5.0 brought us further enhancements to e-Service with complaints and spare parts, with e-Commerce gaining campaign integration and newsletter subscription.  However, by this time SAP was under increasing pressure, their slow pace of development, coupled with a seemingly lack lustre program of product investment, vision and strategy saw them lose significant market share to their competitors. Despite further changes in CRM 6.0 and 7.0, with the notable inclusion of loyalty management, the image conscious B2C crowd was already moving to pastures greener.  SAP’s competitors could claim to have all this, and more, packaged in an environment which was more appealing to the marketing and sales departments of any business.

Whilst selling the tightly coupled integration benefits of the SAP solution were easy for SAP IT departments, the end user and key influencers could not readily buy into this. To them the other products out there looked better, claimed to cover the full feature list and all had stories to support their SAP integration claims via various tools. It was only until the implementation that the true complexities enabling scenarios such as product configuration or true closed loop marketing across the channels became clear. By this time the investments were made and compromises taken to implement the chosen solution.

The last remaining bastion of SAP’s ISA product then became the B2B space, here, the lower focus on image, the greater propensity for tight back office integration, and the use of the SAP Enterprise Portal to deliver additional content seemed to balance the equation in favour of ISA.  Without notable exception, the vast majority of the higher release implementations we worked on over the next few years were overwhelmingly focused in this direction.  Then, in 2011, along came the new WCEM upstart from SAP, a new contender to the e-Commerce throne. Although, this was a product that had been completely re-designed from the ground up, it somehow felt familiar, for many, and certainly for us, it looked like we had finally turned a corner and emerged with a solution that addressed prior ISA acceptance issues, this was surely a turning point in the fortunes of SAP’s e-Commerce offering!

Although WCEM 1.0, being a brand new product, had some limitations and was focusing on B2C functionality, it did not feel hastily put together, in fact, when you looked under the hood, the architecture felt like a master stroke of design, a real thoroughbred in the SAP stable. As systems integrators and web channel consultants, we were enthused and genuinely excited by the prospects for this new product. From our perspective, WCEM had all the bells and whistles (JSF, CMS etc…); those key features that could really make the difference in a sale to a customer, not only that, for once it really looked pretty good out of the box! Furthermore, SAP had made commitments to a real development roadmap and strategy for this product; we were going to see continued and sustained investment in new features and its initial B2C focus was soon to be complemented by additional B2B functionality leveraging the renowned and robust back office processes available in the SAP CRM and ECC offering.

Tight integration, state of the art functionality, usability and look and feel, were now words that could finally be in the same sentence.  Customers were going to be able to leverage real and tangible benefits from implementing their B2B and B2C processes across a single, tightly integrated SAP platform, the world looked like a better place. However, the story told by the market did not seem to match our expectations, there was talk of the cloud and the lack of functionality provided for the dominant B2C retail space; were we wrong, was it really that far behind its competitors?

We did some research to understand where exactly this impression was coming from and how WCEM was being perceived by the SAP customer base and a few themes began to emerge:

  1. The years of missed opportunities and believed lack of investment with ISA were starting to take their toll; WCEM had inherited an image problem plain and simple. Many customers were unconvinced that the leopard could change its spots, and questioned the rational of backing the WCEM horse over a more established non-SAP solution, despite the obvious integration investments required.
  2. The buzz in the market was now all about the Cloud, SaaS and all that comes with it, particularly within the SMB space. Here, in unfamiliar territory for SAP, they were finding it increasingly difficult to compete with the likes of SalesForce.com.
  3. Although WCEM has the capability to work with alternate backend environments other than SAP ECC or CRM it is seen as exclusive to these systems. This places some limits on its reach into other customer groups where this is not always desirable, such as the retail channel and especially for emerging start-up companies.

Then came WCEM 2.0, where among other things, many in-store processes were introduced. SAP’s retail market expectations were high, but the general acceptance by their retail installed was modest, few made the jump to WCEM even with the promise of support for retail specific article types.  The main reasons for the hesitation were:

  1. SAP’s failure to engage with the Marketing departments effectively, they continued to be seen as a technology provider, hence too focused on talking to IT.
  2. The tightly integrated processes connecting the Web Shop with the physical store (introduced in WCEM 2.0), required the implementation of SAP CRM and MDM, but the adoption of these solutions remained limited within the SAP retail customer base.

As a consequence, despite the comprehensive retail store functionality and obvious integration benefits, only a few retailers signed up for WCEM.   

More recently, with the introduction of WCEM 3.0, things were really starting to come together. The proposition started to become easier to sell, and all the initial promise of ISA was becoming a reality, customers were starting to believe in the product, it looked like we were destined for success.

– The Acquisition –

Whaam! (as goes the famous painting of Roy Lichtenstein by the same name) along came SAP’s announcement, it was to purchase Hybris. The bottom literally fell out of our WCEM world overnight.  After the shaky start, all that subsequent effort, and just when we were all starting to make headway, had SAP just managed to kill WCEM!?!

Well, the good news is we don’t think so!

During the rest of this blog, we hope to show you just why WCEM is here to stay, and how bright this future will be.  But first, let us spend just a little time considering the motives for this acquisition. 

As we have alluded to before, SAP has really faced some stiff competition in the Cloud computing market and received criticism for their product portfolio and strategy. This is of particular relevance when you consider the context of this acquisition, SAP’s major focus in recent times (aside for HANA) has been the SME, their Business ByDesign software solution has been specifically developed to target this market, but in recent times, it would seem that they have struggled to get much traction when going head-to-head with the likes of SalesForce.com.

There is however, no doubt that SAP has committed heavily to continue its e-business strategy even more so that it did in the past and truly has potential to dominate this space. The potential for SAP lies in its ability to bring to bear the fully integrated components of a business application suite to meet the demands of a multitude of business scenarios for small, mid and large scale enterprises. To our knowledge, no other product has the breadth and depth of integration provided by SAP, yet they still lack credibility to be able to go the final few yards. Enter Hybris, with this product, SAP has found the missing ingredient, they now have all the tools necessary to complete their Cloud offering, and has gained instant industry credibility to boot. In our humble opinion, it is now not a matter of if, but when, SAP will make their mark in this space.

So what, I hear you say, I thought this was a blog about WCEM?  Well, hang on, there is method in our madness.   At present, the only clear message to come from the annals of SAP HQ in Walldorf has been the Cloud computing mantra, but is this really surprising if you stop to think about it for a while. The process of legal and regulatory approval takes time; it’s feasible that this deal my still fall through and if we recall for a minute SAP’s targeted acquisition of Retek in 2005 (Forbes, 2005; CNET News, 2005; CNET News, 2005) the parallels are obvious.  On this occasion, SAP once again  wished to assume a dominate presence in the retail sector, they made commitments and investments to the market, only to have the rug pulled out from under them by Oracle.  Like the child touching the hot stove, you learn from your mistakes.  As is normal in these situations, SAP will likely have instructed its staff to keep Hybris at arm’s length and refrain from speculation, therefore, pushing SAP for more details is unlikely to bear fruit and we must wait to see how this unfolds once the ink is dry. Thus, it is left to the likes of us, having lived and breathed SAP for decades to attempt to illuminate the paths SAP will likely tread.

So, are we any further forward with our tale, well yes and no is the answer to that! For now, I think we have established some of the ground work, now we need to think a little harder as to how this might all fit into our bigger picture.  Let’s take some time to explore the respective strengths, weaknesses and features of both products so that we might make some informed speculation on how things might shake out in the future.

– The Clients –

Drawing on our previous comments, it’s interesting to compare how the respective client portfolios stack up, and how this may affect and influence the future direction of both solutions.  SAP has already clearly articulated that Hybris will continue to be run as a separate company under the control and direction of its current management.  One can obviously debate at length the strategic and long term viability of this statement, and if SAP acquisition history really points in this direction. One thing is clear. Hybris does have an existing installed base (especially non-SAP clients), which SAP will be keen to retain, grow, and potentially convert to their Cloud based service offering as well as a Web Channel solution.

Figure 1 Customer Groups

Of the estimated 500 worldwide Hybris implementations, roughly 20% are current SAP suite users (Patrick Finn VP of Channels, Hybris US, Vantageb2b, 2013).  We also know that 50 to 60% of the Hybris customers fall into the retail sector from which approximately less than 60 would be SAP suite users – we know retail to be a target growth area for SAP. The question is why these customers would have chosen Hybris over a more tightly integrated scenario with WCEM. Maybe some of the reasoning behind their decision has been highlighted earlier in this blog. Certainly for these customers the prospect of a tighter SAP supported integration between their customer experience platform and SAP suite must be a very welcome prospect. Whilst for SAP having the immediate opportunity to penetrate further into the retail sector gives them a boost to execute on this.

So, what about all those SAP Web Channel implementations I here you say?  Well, again, here we find ourselves asking another interesting question.  Given this customer base, why would SAP choose to consciously make a move that would damage this revenue stream? 

Comparing the SAP WCEM and Hybris customer bases does not appear to show any major conflict between these two groups. For sure SAP has a strong interest to penetrate further into B2C retail, yet this does not justify the initial public assumptions that this deal will result in Hybris replacing SAP WCEM. From all of our investigation and analysis it is firmly our opinion that:

Hybris does not compete; it completes SAP’s solution.

We believe this statement to be true, both in terms of functionality and customer base. Whilst there is no denying that Hybris has an established foothold in the retail space, including customers utilising the SAP suite, the past few months have seen positive growth for WCEM sales which now exceeded those in the Hybris/SAP context.  With over 700 SAP Web Channel implementations (compared with 500 existing Hybris installations), the conclusion must therefore be, SAP’s e-Business investment will continue to grow, albeit, now positively influenced by intellectual property and capabilities of Hybris.

Quite obviously, many of these customers have selected WCEM based on the functionality offered, the tight integration provided and the published roadmap of development. Furthermore, while Hybris capabilities for the B2C scenario benefits from the more centralized / product driven maintenance functionalities with a Product Catalogue Management (PCM) which leads to the better back-office user-experience (e.g. for Marketing managers), the integration with additional components such as contracts, dynamic pricing, complaints and services makes staying with the WCEM solution a compelling proposition. In short, to force either set of customers to migrate their implementations to a new platform that may not provide all the functionality of the one they are currently utilising does not seem to make much sense. This would also be a dangerous strategy providing these customers cause to look outside of the SAP product family. The much more likely and beneficial solution would be to incorporate the best parts of each solution into future software releases, providing a clear and concise upgrade path to new features and functionality.

– The Features –

Much has been made in the press of the features available within the Hybris solution, particularly those in relation to product catalogue management and end user experience, especially from a retail perspective. But do these features really represent compelling reasons for abandoning the WCEM product?

Product catalogue management forms the cornerstone of each product, and in WCEM, is provided by leveraging the SAP Master Data Maintenance (MDM) solution (certain scenarios provide support for the legacy TREX solution). Hybris on the other hand, has its own purpose built Product Content Management (PCM) solution, which was designed exclusively for this purpose. In this area, we would conclude that Hybris PCM, based on the evidence is ahead. Criticisms from some quarters surrounding ulterior motives for MDM adoption do seem to have some merit, but equally such a technology would have been hard to discount given the initial requirements of WCEM solution. However, whatever your view, both solutions form stable and robust components of their respective architectures. If we look to the future, we feel that PCM probably has the edge; and a future integration scenario for WCEM does not seem beyond the realms of possibility.

Obviously one can point to the incredibly tight integration between the SAP CRM and ECC systems as one of the huge benefits that it brings to the table. Clearly this is an area where Hybris comes up short, with SAP integration provided only through 3rd party integration technologies.  There is no doubt that SAP will not leave this unaddressed, but the question remains how they will tackle it. Perhaps their move into upcoming ODATA services is highlighting the way.

Features strong on the WCEM side can typically be seen where this tight integration serves to benefit. Product configuration is a very good example of this. Hybris like most other multichannel products struggles when providing a product configuration function to its SAP backend customers. Although there are some partner products that aim to address this gap none can provide the seamless integration of the WCEM environment.

Similarly e-Marketing also benefits in this regard with integrated closed loop scenarios between the CRM marketing platform, the customer experience channel and the analytical components. Sure with a tool such as Hybris all of this is achievable to some degree with developments, partners and partner products. However, today the expectation is shifting to a more plug-and-play model. People are undertaking this effort to get products working together but it for sure is not what they want to be focusing on nor bearing the costs of.

For sure, there is a significant feature overlap between Hybris and WCEM, how SAP addresses this in the future will be interesting to observe, but in our opinion, as they stand today, neither is a clear leader as a candidate to replace the other. Instead, we prefer to look at the underlying technology as a basis for which product provides the most benefit to the on-going development of the products. Then we see a bolstering up of that environment into a new evolution of both WCEM and Hybris. Will there be a migration strategy for both? At this point in time maybe even SAP cannot answer that question. But it would be a risky strategy for SAP to face existing WCEM customers with the choice of a new implementation of SAP products thus opening the door to reviewing alternate products and an ensuing potential loss of customers.

So in the short term we believe SAP will include Hybris into the product line up in the areas it fits well today and where SAP needs to penetrate further such as the retail sector and cloud based solutions. No doubt they will continue to evolve Hybris in these areas but they can also not leave WCEM alone and will execute on the existing pipeline of product evolution already planned in that area. Of course they will have their eyes firmly on an end state of a complete feature suite with tight integration built on technology platform providing their customer with the basis to take advantage of the technology enablement functions anticipated from things such as HTML5.

– The Technology –

One aspect of the technology that is quite interesting are the opportunities presented with the Hybris PCM. Building upon our brief feature comparison, PCM, in our opinion represents a good candidate for HANA integration, and this may also be seen as a key driver for the future direction of the product catalog management in both solutions.

Other considerations must also be given to the general frontend architecture. Here, in our opinion, WCEM is the clear leader, Hybris, being the elder statesman of the two products is based upon the aging spring framework. By comparison, WCEM, the relative newcomer to the party, has been grounded in the latest technologies

Again, many comparisons can be drawn between the two products and this is really beyond the scope of this blog, but for those of you who are eager to hear more, an in-depth comparison will definitely be the bases of a later blog in this series.

– Conclusion –

In our opinion, SAP acquisition of Hybris can be seen as a strong market play, allowing it to make significant leaps forward in some sectors. They are also clearly well positioned in the all-important analyst competitive profiling, but if you are a WCEM customer this is not the only game in town.

What information SAP is happy to disclose regarding the Hybris play clearly indicates that this will be their go to market approach for the customer experience enablement in the Business ByDesign suite. Without doubt they will be working to underpin this with HANA and completing the triumvirate with the Hybris mobile capability they deliver on their theme; in the cloud, in memory and mobile.

When you look at it like this you can hardly fail to recognise the power play that SAP is making in the cloud CRM / customer experience world of business applications. Like other successful cloud solutions, we all knew that SAP would be the ones to lead us into the same paradigm shift for business suite applications. To be sure they are pulling no punches here, and we could well be seeing the beginning of the blow that finally sends the likes of SalesForce.com to the canvas.

So is that it? You want cloud you’ll be Hybris, you want on premise its WCEM? Well maybe this is how it will shake out, or so it would seem in the next few years. This however, is not the SAP we know, where constant innovation and striving for product excellence are touchstones. As we have tried to point out through this blog, in no way should WCEM be considered the less attractive cousin of SAP Customer Relationship Management, in fact the opposite is true. In WCEM, SAP has truly a next generation multi-channel platform, well architected, feature rich and ready to deliver on the hopes we all had of ISA many moons ago.

Whilst the jury may still be out on the Hybris acquisition, we firmly believe that this can only represent good news for WCEM; the lift in profile that we can expect will only serve to help WCEM break-free the residual stigma of ISA and allow it to be viewed as a complimentary part of a winning customer experience platform.

As for the future beyond, well this is hardly a winner–takes-all strategy, leaving those who backed the looser high and dry. In true SAP fashion, we expect to see a genetic engineering evolution of both platforms bringing together the best of both.

So should anyone invest in WCEM right now? Well, unless you’re an SMB looking for the ultimate cloud based business suite experience; all other on-premise SAP customers ought to be looking seriously hard at WCEM right now. Forget all that you have previously thought, WCEM’s reality is very much what you may immediately be lead to believe. Is there really anyone left that still believes they don’t need to refresh their customer experience on a 2/3 year cycle?

Thinking in these terms, and facing an upgrade from WCEM to the next evolution as it merges with Hybris, or being on any other vendor’s platform trying to make the jump back, we think it is clear which path is going to get your future customer experience ambitions to market quicker. In a shameless plug for our work, this blog represents the first in a series of posts that we will be writing over the coming weeks and months, if you enjoyed reading this, please stay tuned to this channel for more in-depth comparison and editorial opinion on the WCEM and Hybris solutions.

Authors


Jason Jones

SAP CRM Multi-Channel Architect & Managing Director of ecomize

Graham Hopkins

SAP CRM / ERP Solution Architect

Andreas Halbig

SAP Web-Channel Solution Architect

About us

Ecomize are an CRM E-business specialist consultancy focused on delivering market leading Customer Experience solutions based on the SAP Web-Channel  products. Our team, with an average of 10 years hands-on industry experience, is implementing innovative business solutions based on the SAP Web-Channel and Multi-Channel product portfolio to clients throughout Europe and the Americas.

Bibliography

Byrne, T. (2013 йил 3-6). Real Story Group.

From http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2563-The-Case-Against-Adobe-CQ-WEM

CNET News. (2005 йил 22-3). Oracle outbids SAP for Retek.

From http://news.cnet.com/Oracle-outbids-SAP-for-Retek/2100-1014_3-5629280.html

Forbes. (2005 йил 18-3). Why Are Oracle And SAP Fighting Over Retek?

From http://www.forbes.com/2005/03/18/cx_ld_0318retek.html

Real Story Group. (2013). Web Content & Experience Management.

Retrieved from http://www.realstorygroup.com/Research/CMS

Vantageb2b. (2013 йил 16-05).

From http://www.vantageb2b.com/blog/sap-users-can-integrate-their-hybris-ecommerce-platform-with-their-erp-solution#.UdE-h-uuzYS

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27 Comments

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  1. Stefan Kliment

    Hi Andreas,

    I still think there remain a lot of issues that have to be addressed by SAP once this acquisition goes through. But great in-depth article nevertheless! The font was really hard to read, had to copy/paste it into another document so it would go easier on my eyes. 😉

    Regards,

    Stefan

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    1. Andreas Halbig Post author

      Hi Stefan,

      thank you, we just scratched the surface and haven’t gone into the details so much. The original blog was far deeper in detail, but we wanted to avoid to get too technical especailly as the blog was anyway far too long already.  There is indeed a lots of issues, which SAP has to address as soon as the deal is finalized, but these are topics we have to discuss in detail end of the year.

      Btw. the font did look perfect on Mac’s, but obviously the copy & paste out of the word document was doing not good. I removed the “hardcoded” styles and hope it is now easier to read on Internet Explorers as well. Thank you for making me aware about that.

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      1. Sathia Gamesh

        Hi Andreas,

        With the recent acquisition of HYBRIS, it seems that SAP may not invest in WCEM and obviously on one particular day, might be in the near future,  SAP may scrap down WCEM . What would be your advice/suggestion for all those who spent day in and out working/learning WCEM all through these days.

        Regards,

        Sathia

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  2. Ashwaray Chaba

    Hey Andreas,

    As always a very good blog,can you please also explain a little technical architecture of Hybris.I am a SAP WebChannel and WCEM consultant,so will WebChannel Consultants be proffered for a Hybris implementation ?also what kind of upgrade technically do SAP WebChannel Consultants have to undergo in future for Hybris implementations.

    Has SAP currently has any plans for upgrading WebChannel consultants knowledge for Hybris as well by providing required trainings.

    Regards,
    Ashwaray

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  3. Sam Bayer

    In addition, according to Forrester:

    “Hybris becomes the only commerce offering from SAP. With today’s closure of the deal, SAP will cease further investment in their WCEM (Web  Channel Experience Management) solution. This should come as no  surprise given that the weakness of this solution in the market was the  impetus for the acquisition in the first place. Going forward, all  commerce related opportunities at SAP will be strategically directed to  Hybris. Existing WCEM customers can expect SAP to continue to support  them on the product, but over time will be encouraged to make a  transition to Hybris.”

    I can see registration in hybris training courses going through the roof in the coming days.

    Sam

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    1. Daniel Ruiz

      it was rather the obvious outcome.. not sure about ‘hybris training’, there is nothing there other than Java and well known frameworks – what I’m sure it will happen is that their Partner Program will sky rocket as developers need access to documentation (and I think we won’t be able to access thru SAP).

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      1. Stefan Kliment

        Unfortunately the video is no longer available. If anyone knows where to find a recording, I’d appreciate it if you let me know.

        Cheers,

        Stefan

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    2. Tarun Bakshi

      Hi Andreas,

      Any comments now as SAP has declared that investments on WCEM will be stopped by SAP and Hybris will be the flagship eCommerce product? Do you have any clarity on what it means for customers waiting for WCEM 4.0 or 3.X? Is it good or bad for WCEM consultants who have spent significant time in adapting to WCEM and now sudden change puts them in dilemma of what to suggest to clients.

      I know you have been very positive about this acquisition but how do you see it now and any positivity that you can share with us?

      Thanks,

      -Tarun

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      1. Andreas Halbig Post author

        Dear all,

        our blog was focusing on the technical aspects and the needs of the existing SAP customers, who decided to use SAP by purpose as it did fit their needs perfectly. Those clients had choosen WCEM before Hybris, because it was simply for them the better choice and it is still the case for today’s situation!

        The last word has not been spoken, but we are nevertheless surprised by the straightforward answer to SAP’s current Web-Channel products in the Webcast, whose web link Stefan Kliment kindly shared with us – the answer +/- was “hybris will become SAP’s only commerce solution”. For me a bit too much the kamikazee approach. Few month ago, the initial news was from our side seen as not well considered in the interest of any sales activities and we think, the most recent answer was not better; too many open questions left, far too many, if you think beyond the obvious.

        The problem is, that so far we see only managers speaking. Those people just see numbers and have issues to see the essential difference between applications; the difference, which is is making it easy for us to “quickly” go live or is forcing us to go for far more custom code.

        Some people here will disagree to our opinition and say, well, it was to be expected. I personally think, it does implicate a confirmation for their argumentation. Over the past decade, i experienced many situation, where the complexity of E-Business solutions are completely unterestimated – sometimes i had the feeling, people expect it is just a quick thing you simply enable within a few hours; install it, press few config switches and here we go. Experts specialized on backend / back-office solutions, do think a customer facing solution is not so much different as a solution like the CRM Web-Ui – well, you do this mistake only once (hopefully) ..

        Front-end solutions have to be extremly agile and flexible, but you need know-how to keep this consquential freedom manageable or you end up in a neverending drama and high maintenance cost. As junior (ages ago) i blamed myself SAP daily and I was probably seen by my former Swiss colleague as the strange german guy, who was crying out of pain every few minutes – well, now I think i was the one (at those times) who simply closed the eyes and pointed with the fingers to others. Fortunately, everything has changed til today, we became experts, the solution developed further and  it became a pleasure working with it, but the basic initial story line is still in place – it’s unterestimated, complex and for entrants overwhelming (like any other solution including Hybris). Actually a big issue for the product manufacturer, because this is the reason why projects very likely fail.

        Would you assume, that you can  drive  & compete a formular 1 car, just because you can drive a car? It’s like working together with a special expertise partner, compared to a regular partner.

        This is the same story with SAP as it is with Hybris. Also Hybris does have seen such issue, but i very much like, that they force their partners to go through an comprehensive training programm including certification process, before they actually  are allowed to serve Hybris customers – “LIKE”! 

        You want from me a answer of how it will continue? Well, the name Hybris will be obviously now promoted to the maximum and it will become the main product for SAP’s  Web-Channel. I personally do not care, if Hybris becomes part of WCEM or parts of WCEM will become Hybris – one way is easier as the other, but both are doable.

        There will be now a  phase for all of us (including SAP & Hybris), where we have to find a orientation. Hybris is compared to WCEM / ISA simply too different in the way of the integration and also the  processes – it’s not denyable, that this will have a massive impact. Putting out the one and only right statement for all clients is not possible, but we invite clients to sit together with us as Solution Advisor to review their situation to find their individual best strategy.

        So far I can say, Hybris is a fantastic opportunity for all of us. It brings a lots of additional capabilities on the table. It was not optimized for SAP usage so far, but the attention of the SAP Web-Channel Community (=us) is now in place and our unique know-ledge will secure, that Hybris will let grow the SAP Web-Channel beyond our imagination. Working within the Web-Channel area will become temporary more challanging, but it will stay exciting!

        Regards

        – Andreas

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        1. Ingo Woesner

          Hi Andreas,

          I couldn’t agree more to what you are saying. for sharing your thoughts and visions with great expertise on all levels.

          Thank you very much for your strong engagement in the SCN Web Channel Commmunity. You are without doubt a driving factor when it comes to (any) SAP E-Commerce/Multi Channel/Omni Channel business strategy.

          In a time dominated by change and (hence) uncertainty you are looking beyond the Ice Age and carve out the benefits of the new solution.

          Great to have you with us!

          All the best,

          Ingo

          Dr. Ingo Woesner
          Product Management – Retail and Multi Channel

          Application Innovation

          SAP AG

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    1. Ingo Woesner

      Hi Rajeev,

      No, there is no package solution or any integration content whatsoever available or
      planned to connect MDM with any hybris module.

      MDM was used with WCEM, hybris Product Content Management is used along with a hybris based web shop.

      hybris is very open and flexible to attach 3rd party tools to the hybris commerce suite, so technically it is probably possible, but still, no standard integration content or migration is offered.

      Best regards,

      Ingo

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  4. Deep Maheshwari

    We are in the process of integration b/w ECC 6 and Hybris ,so wanted to know the middle ware options available and which one is better .

    1  SAP PI ( REST or SOAP ) ?

    2  webMethod ?

    3  B2B accelarator ?

    4  SAP BODS /EIS

    5  No middleware required ?? Is Hybris compatible of providing or consuming WSDL

         ( ECC6  web service)

    Thanks in advance

    Deep

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    1. Daniel Ruiz

      Hi,

      I reckon a good alternative would be using Spring RestTemplate in addition to a customized REST Application in ECC.

      Case you don’t have the ‘srest package’ (it’s a very rudimentary approach to jsr-311 in abap), just download a newer abap version (trial version) and extract the classes using something like saplink and you will be able to create RESTful services in your ECC system.

      After that, it’s rather straight forward.. you just hand-code everything you need that abap can provide, and whenever abap slows down (or does not have power to output quick enough to Hybris) you should consider ‘not doing live’, but rather code some sort of synchronization service and keep all the data in the j2ee stack in solr for instance.

      Another alternative case you are running Hybris on a netweaver instance, would be the ability to setup a JRA Factory, and you can use the EE spec (jsr 322) directly (…well, it will still use the problematic jco underneath, but its either that or icf which is also not super great, and it’s SAP and everybody should know the caveats of such) – you would end up consuming ‘function modules’ pretty much like other Applications do, which is sort of primitive (procedural) but still reasonably accepted in ‘abap world’.

      Last but not least, I’d strongly recommend you avoid ‘hitting abap’ at all costs since abap does not have a reliable speed for ‘consumer grade’ stuff… this is my personal take of course, and whenever in future I see myself on the same boat as you are (deciding what to do), the answer is rather simple: sync service all over, having Hybris ‘disconnected’ from abap 100% – never, absolutely NEVER hit abap in any sort of online scenario.

      Cheers,

      D.

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      1. Sam Bayer

        Hi Daniel,

        While I appreciate your perspective on “never, absolutely NEVER hit abap in any sort of online scenario” I do think that it’s NEVER quite that simple is it?

        In the B2B scenario, where synchronization of data and rules between SAP and any other platform…like hybris…can become quite complex (think pricing rules, inventory and available to promise, credit limits and checks etc.) I believe one becomes a bit more tolerant to the performance constraints (such as they are) of accessing SAP directly.

        We process millions of real time SAP transactions per year and the vast majority of them return quite acceptable response times (<0.5 sec per line item).  To be sure there are the outliers, but users have come to calibrate the longer response times of the larger shopping carts (think hundreds of line items) against the even longer manual processing times of yesterday.

        There is nothing inherently bad about abap.  Like anything else though, it can be misappropriated.

        In the end, we much prefer the architectural simplicity of letting SAP run the business and providing a browser based window into its workings than recreating (and maintaining) all of that logic and data in two places.  I believe users would much prefer to wait a bit longer to get accurate data than to get bad data quickly.  At least I know this to be 100% true in the more complicated B2B world.  In the B2C world where pricing, shipping and payments are much simpler, I can easily agree with you about the role that SAP should play in the user experience.

        Sam

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        1. Daniel Ruiz

          Hi Sam,

          As far I can see, other lines of business like Amazon for instance can easily return a lot more than 200 items in less than 0.5 “in total” – business like Google can also return data very quickly, and that’s the sort of scenario most people expects online.

          While you think ‘SAP does a lot’ – I think SAP doesn’t do much at all and what it does it’s usually slow due poor code in its guts – so not sure what’s too bad of re-writing such in J2EE for instance to actually squeeze performance — but I do understand the process is costly, not because ‘a business needs to rewrite whole ecc or whole crm’ but rather because there is no real separation or layers or responsibilities in SAP core design, so the small parts one would need to re-write are directly coupled with parts one wouldn’t need.. so yeah, pretty hard.

          And the whole thing is: you sit down with your functional and technical team, look into a use case (Product Pricing) and ask them – ‘ I want to know all steps SAP does in this use case. ” – they should be able to point to you each step and every single bit that the software (SAP) does, and if they cant.. well, you have a much bigger problem as you run a software people just don’t fully understand, and in my perspective this is not a wise move.

          After some analysis, you will end up with a number of use cases you need coverage for a B2B to run, and even with Hybris not all customer will use 100% of it’s functionality — you only do what you must do, not more not less.

          … and I understand your perspective, the question asked in the first place was “options available and which one is better” — the word better is very subjective, and cost wise I agree, re-write for performance improvement is not the right move.

          Cheers,

          D.

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          1. Andreas Halbig Post author

            Daniel Ruiz wrote:

            As far I can see, other lines of business like Amazon for instance can easily return a lot more than 200 items in less than 0.5 “in total”

            Good point. The question is what Amazon is done to get those quick response times especially if we consider the millions of articles they sell their . They have a huge landscape behind their web-shop, that makes this possible and this is a completely custom developed solution as well.

            Those response times you will also get with SAP or Hybris for sure, but you have to make the right decisions. Starts from how to maintain your catalogue structure, business processes , choice of the right hardware, sizing, using HANA or another Database and in the end the question, when and where to perform the time-consuming business processes you will face e.g. when processing the actual order in the back-end.

            Daniel Ruiz wrote:

            not because ‘a business needs to rewrite whole ecc or whole crm’ but rather because there is no real separation or layers or responsibilities in SAP core design

            Almost everything in SAP is separated and there are endless layers, there is no need to rewrite it! There are endless possibilities of combining scenarios, but you have to make the right decisions. If you come in with the expectation, that a company which hasn´t done yet e-commerce / e-business can simply start with e-commerce, then you will run into issues with any ECC solution sooner or later. The problem is more likely, that existing business processes are not ready for a e-Business scenario and many companies struggle to change those – they all try to squeeze everything and are wondering thereafter, which e.g. pricing is running so slow. Not because the pricing engine could not handle it theoretically, it´s more because at previous days there was no need to work out a pricing scheme, that supports a foundation to handle 10.000 times more request today as required once before .

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        2. Andreas Halbig Post author

          Sam Bayer wrote:

          I believe users would much prefer to wait a bit longer to get accurate data than to get bad data quickly

          That´s a to simplified statement. If I am sitting in a call-centre and need for each call   twice or ten times longer, because I have to wait for the system to respond, then the cost of my call-centre are easily twice to ten times higher, because I need more resources to cover amount of incoming calls. Beside the fact, that the service quality will be also negative, because I cannot provide additional information in time that possibly could be relevant as well….

          Sure, data always has to be accurate otherwise the solution would be useless. The key question, do I want to enable a new service using a relatively low budget as of low integration costs using a simple approach or do i have to invest a reasonable higher amount to provide a more advanced approach e.g. Hybris. For a small company where the solution is used just once in a while, hence a low resource impact to the central ECC system is taking place, i do not have to recommend a solution that needs ten times more budget to implement.

          There is one more element which needs to be considered as well, even if a system is processing millions of records in a year then the resource requirements will increase. So you either slow down any other processes or you have to increase the system resources accordingly. Depending on your licence agreement with SAP, your database provider and any other software / hardware provider involved, this will very likely force you to pay far more licence costs… we are talking quickly about 6 to 7-digits numbers.

          Next element that needs to be considered, because any direct connection makes your system vulnerable and does increase the risks. If you allow a web-frontend to talk to SAP directly, then it needs to be 100% bullet proof otherwise a simple bot-script can bring down your business – not just your web-shop, I am talking about any department in your company from customer service to field works!  

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    2. Andreas Halbig Post author

      Hello Deep,

      Hybris itself has only a asynchronous  connection to SAP as of todays situation. There is only a third party connector available between SAP and Hybris. There is no real-time connection provided out of the box, so Hybris is a stand-alone system which runs completely independent from SAP and only once in a while the data is synchronized  with SAP using batch processes (mainly the orders) – actually a pretty simple process and only covers the absolute basics.

      Anything else is custom development in case of you want to have any real-time connection to perform specific activities like availability checks in SAP. This was the part, which made the project expensive in the past.

      So far this is kind of the “old” world…

      SAP is currently working on the official SAP integration, which will give you all options from full integration to the disconnected approach as of today (but far more advanced). As this is integration product is still in development I cannot provide you detailed information.

      So you have the choice to do everything using a custom development today or you wait until SAP has released the integration product, which gives you a lots of options and flexibility …. this however will take a few months and I assume you won´t have the time to wait so long…

      So if you start working on your custom integration to SAP, try to keep as much as possible asynchronous. In this case performance issues are not so critical. The discussion of using or avoiding SOAP, RFC/Jco or any other protocol is something I often cannot follow. The choice of the protocol does not make the actual call slower or faster. If you execute a full order process in SAP, it is slow because of all the thousand business processes, which are performed behind and not because I choose using JCo as connection.

      Why actually B2B2Dot0 is brought up (again)? This has nothing in common with Hybris as it is a different platform and especially not relevant for a discussion about which Integration Types are available between Hybris and SAP.

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      1. Sam Bayer

        “Why actually B2B2Dot0 is brought up (again)? This has nothing in common with Hybris as it is a different platform and especially not relevant for a discussion about which Integration Types are available between Hybris and SAP.”

        From an SAP perspective, hybris (like Magento) can be viewed as a standalone eCommerce platform requiring asynchronous data integration with SAP or as a functionally rich content management platform that uses the Corevist (formerly known as B2B2dot0) shopping cart to integrate with SAP in real time for Order Management (pricing, availability, credit check etc.).

        That indeed is a very viable “integration type” as you put it.

        Sam

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        1. Andreas Halbig Post author

          Not sure if you can call it viable, but it has no relationship to SAP´s Web-Channel  or Hybris products. However, you are welcome to share technical details of your integration approach, so that the Web Channel community can use your experience to solve potential integration challenges to Hybris – unfortunately you still speaking in the voice of a sales person to sale a product that has no relevance to Hybris or SAP Web-Channel at all. Promoting your solution would be probably more suitable in this community, if it actually does enable a integration scenario for Hybris or any other SAP product from the SAP Web-Channel.

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          1. Sam Bayer

            I guess my posts have been deemed too threatening to this Forum and have been banned by the moderators.  So much for fostering a diverse and open dialogue.  I will respectfully decline your invitation to participate further in this forum because it appears to be a place to discuss too narrow an agenda for my purposes.  I prefer to help businesses who have made the astute choice of implementing SAP ERP find ways to capitalize on those investments as they navigate the complex world of eCommerce.  This is at odds to your agenda (as supported by your moderator colleagues here) which is to promote only “invented here” solutions.

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            1. Andreas Halbig Post author

              Sam, your posts are not threatening anyone and you are like everyone invited to share experiences – but not like “everything is bullshit, so buy my product” approach. You might have to read the “Terms of Use”, which you have violated before complaining.

              This forum / community is exclusively about the SAP Web-Channel (including Hybris in connection to SAP) and not about any other product, but you use any opportunity to promote your product independent of how much relevance it actually does have rather then participating in a knowledge exchange. If somebody does ask about which options for engines you have for a Porsche, he does not want to hear about the engines you can have for a Ford Civic even if both cars are running on 4-wheels.

              Personally i would not mind, but you are confusing the people, who are looking for answers and i think it is absolutely valid that moderators starting to filter out those off-topic discussions in the interest of any reader… In the same way as wrong positioned SAP topics are also moved into the more suitable SCN forum. I assume this also will be the case if somebody tries to discuss Hybris topics, which do not have any relationship to the SAP background at all as even for those topics you have a different forum.

              However, I think nobody minds if you highlight disadvantages of the SAP products and all troubles you had using it, but in a way that shows at least some indications that you are trying to contribute something that might help to improve the product or help other people to find a work around. All developers from SAP are reading this forum and highly interested to get those feedback as well.

              So again, you are welcome to share your expertise.

              Btw. i am not the moderator

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            2. Ingo Woesner

              Hi Sam,

              I can assure you are not banned in this forum. On the contrary – this forum is open for constructive and controversial discussions, and I am sure all appreciate your valuable contributions.

              As moderator I had to delete one of contributions several months ago because you transgressed against a forum rule not to use/misuse the SCN for promoting own solutions.

              I know it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between a cmparision of solutions/benefits and marketing, but this is the policy I have to follow.

              Best regards,

              Ingo

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