LAS VEGAS — At its annual TechEd conference here, SAP announced on Oct. 2 that developers can download a NetWeaver license on a yearly subscription basis.
The goal for SAP in changing its licensing structure around NetWeaver is to open up access to the platform to a much broader community of developers. In other words, SAP wants to make NetWeaver a strategic development platform for both SAP and non-SAP customers, partners and independent software vendor, a strategy the company has been pursuing for several years.
"We expect a great deal of innovation on top of NetWeaver—filling in the white spaces with functionality we do not have, or [building] alternative applications," said Mark Yolton, vice president of the SAP Community Network."My expectations are that easy access to this license gives non-customers an opportunity to test drive NetWeaver."
With the introduction of NetWeaver several years ago as part of its Enterprise Services Architecture initiative, SAP introduced the concept of composite applications—building process-based functionality using components or services from various applications from SAPs ERP [enterprise resource planning] suite.
Read more here about the introduction of the Business ByDesign suite.
But now that SAP has introduced a new on-demand suite of applications, Business ByDesign, which is completely services-based and sits on top of the NetWeaver platform, the question is whether the new NetWeaver developer license program is an effort to expand SAP as a platform provider into the on demand world. And if so, how will developer innovation with Business ByDesign funnel back into SAPs on-premises applications?
The short answer seems to be that not much will change with SAPs platform strategy in the short term; it will remain an on-premises development strategy. But as Business ByDesign becomes available to more users and partners in the coming year, that paradigm could see a definitive shift.
"Business ByDesign leverages much of NetWeavers historical code, so there are some nice synergies between NetWeaver and Business ByDesign," said Yolton. "But theyre not exactly the same. There are some innovations related to Business ByDesign and the next step for SAP is to ensure that innovations introduced in Business ByDesign will be integrated into NetWeaver and the two live side-by-side and [are] developed side-by-side."
Yolton said that Business ByDesign is treated currently at SAP as a separate platform. "The re-integration of those innovations is still to come."
By introducing Business ByDesign, SAP has pitted itself squarely against current on demand market leader Salesforce.com. While Salesforce.com offers CRM [customer relationship management] applications, it also has a full-fledged developer environment, Force.com, which enables partners to develop on-demand, multi-tenant applications.
For the moment Salesforce.com stands alone in offering infrastructure as a service, or as the company refers to it: Platform as a Service. SAP could be looking to close the gap from a platform perspective by opening up access to the NetWeaver developer license, but questions still remain. Morphing into an on demand platform provider is not yet a stated goal for SAP.
Prior to this weeks announcement, the SAP NetWeaver developer license was available to developers but as a perpetual license—and one that was pretty hard to get, according to Yolton.
"The license was available "forever, through a sales rep," said Yolton. "It was primarily available through large partners…and it was difficult to get your hands on a license."
The new SDN Subscription program makes NetWeaver accessible to developers, software architects, consultants and business process experts, company officials said. The license itself includes software, services and educational materials around NetWeaver.
It also includes individual components like SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence, Master Data Management, NetWeaver Mobile and Portal. Developer tools such as Web Dynpro and SAPs NetWeaver Composition Environment for user interface development are also included
Under SAPs SDN Subscription program for NetWeaver—a model the company outlined here at TechEd last year—the NetWeaver development environment is, at bottom, easier to access, according to Yolton. The contract can be purchased online, in the U.S. and Germany now—through SAPs Developer Network. The cost is $2,300 or about 1,700 euros.
SAP expects to have the NetWeaver license available in other countries next year.
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