SAP AG will work hard at its TechEd conference in San Diego this week to extol the virtues of its NetWeaver application integration stack, unveiling fresh capabilities such as new search functionality.
While the NetWeaver technology stack is fairly complete, according to industry experts, SAPs message is not.
The companys job at the conference will be to erase doubts among some of its customers over whether the year-and-a-half-old platform is technically mature and a viable alternative to middleware from IBM, Microsoft Corp. and BEA Systems Inc.
SAP, of Walldorf, Germany, unveiled NetWeaver in January 2003 as a collection of new and existing software components with which customers could integrate application services.
Although the company reports 20,000 implementations of NetWeaver, that number likely includes many instances where customers had already been using a component that was rolled under the NetWeaver umbrella.
According to Gartner Inc. analyst Yefim Natis and other analysts, there are no large-scale, mission-critical implementations of NetWeaver in production.
Officials at SAP said about 150 organizations use the companys composite applications, known as xApps, which run on top of NetWeaver. At the same time, SAP is not seeing the uptick with the ISV community that it needs to ensure widespread adoption of NetWeaver, according to Natis in Stamford, Conn.
The reason for NetWeavers lukewarm reception, said some customers, has less to do with the platforms technical capabilities and more to do with a perception that the technology is too new to risk running.
Jim Haney, vice president of architecture at Whirlpool Corp., recently completed an upgrade from SAP R/3 to MySAP Enterprise 4.7 and is using several components of NetWeaver, including the portal and business warehouse.
"XI [the Exchange Infrastructure component of NetWeaver] is so relatively new," said Haney in Benton Harbor, Mich. "I would not use XI for data model transfers as I would [IBMs WebSphere] MQ [integration offering]. ... I really have to let [NetWeaver] do the job it is able to do today and look to the future to see what it has to offer."
There are technical issues with the administration and management functions of the application server, portal and XI components of NetWeaver that SAP knows it needs to address, analysts say. At TechEd, SAP will announce search capabilities within NetWeavers Business Information component that have new analytic capabilities, said officials.