SAPs Agassi Lays Out Business Event Network

Executive board member Shai Agassi shares his views on NetWeaver, the proactive business event network and the value of context in enterprise applications in a conversation with eWEEK's Steve Gillmor.

SAP executive board member Shai Agassi has positioned the company in a leadership role in the emerging event-based, real-time architecture. In a conversation with eWEEKs Steve Gillmor, Agassi talks about SAPs big bet on NetWeaver and its Enterprise Services Architecture.

The last time we talked a year and a half ago, there were some doubts—not by you, but others—about Web services and the impact of what is now known as Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA). When are you shipping?

This year. Its here. One of the analysts told us, When you announced this a year and a half ago, we said its a nice strategy, a nice set of slides. And the reality is we actually built the thing. Most other people just announced slides, you guys actually built a thing. I can hold it.

Now, youve got a thing, and its commoditizing the business process layer …

I wouldnt say its commoditizing the business process layer. It productizes the business integration layer. Thats one of the big mistakes that people made who looked at what Web services will do—jumped too quickly to the conclusion that the business process layer will be commoditized.

I dont believe customers will go out and buy a business process or a single Web service. What customers will buy are solutions, but what they want in solutions is flexibility.

And thats where Web services will change the future of business. They will still buy a solution to a business problem, but because it is being built with Web services, they will be able to interchange the pieces—and usually they will interchange 1 or 2 percent. Its like cars—you dont go out into the aftermarket and change the whole car. You change the radio, you put some things on the roof, but…

You custom-build it.

How many people custom-build cars?

You can get a Ford car custom-built for you five days later.

What did it do? It changed the business model for Ford. It gives Ford the ability to become a better supplier for their consumer. What does this do for us? It gives us the exact same thing that you describe with Ford. It allows us to build almost custom solutions for the customer—not a one-off, but a one-industry-off, if you will.

Vertical slices of horizontal applications.


If you take your xApps as packaged …

Processes—end-to-end processes.

As the end result of your architecture and intellectual property …

Service enablement of the core applications.

Next page: We have to build a track that knows how to move itself, Agassi says.