SAP Launches SOA Implementation Program

The ESA Adoption Program provides a combination of software and services to help companies implement a service-oriented architecture.

Building on its Enterprise Services Architecture vision, SAP AG has rolled out an induction program for companies looking to service-enable their organizations.

SAPs ESA Adoption Program, unveiled Wednesday, provides a combination of software and services that amounts to a formalized approach for helping companies implement an SOA (service-oriented architecture)—or just service-based processes—based on SAPs NetWeaver application and integration platform.

Before, whether SAP users may have been tooling around with the idea of implementing an SOA or were well down the road to implementation, there really wasnt a formalized program users could turn to for advice.

"This is a four-step program that starts from getting customers to grasp what ESA is, what opportunities lie there, and then build a road map for the vision, implement and go live," said Jason Wolf, vice president of SAPs NetWeaver Advisory Office, in Palo Alto, Calif. "The key thing here is you can look at the program and leverage our experience working with customers … and access best practices and really understand the bigger picture."

The four steps in the program include: Workshops and total cost of ownership sessions to help companies "grasp" the vision of SAPs ESA; building an implementation road map; implementation and go-live services; and change management strategies once everything is up and running.

To help users understand and implement ESA—announced three years ago as SAPs blueprint for creating its own SOA and offering the capability to users through NetWeaver—SAP has developed subservices for each stage of the program.

Initially, users can utilize templates to develop a quick sense of best practices and return on investment, according to Wolf. To develop a road map in the second phase, users can expect to build out very specific business processes and scenarios, and to drill down into such areas as governance. The road map information is put to the test with an implementation plan in the third phase, while the final stage looks at developing ways to leverage the new service-based capabilities.

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SAP also launched Wednesday an online community, "ESA Today," that so far includes 60 architects and about 8,000 monthly visitors.

SAP, of Walldorf, Germany, currently has 400 internal consultants dedicated to the ESA Program and is working with a number of large system integrators to get them up and running with the program, according to Wolf.

Analysts, however, see the ESA Program as one more indication that SAP is building its own services arm to compete with the likes of systems integrator partners Deloitte Consulting and IBM Global Services.

"SAP really wants that business. Theyve really stepped on their partners toes," said Eric Austvold, an analyst with AMR Research. "NetWeaver and the whole stack of that technology is designed to compete with a lot of former and existing partners. And ESA Adoption is clearly a consulting exercise."

SAP is moving in the right direction with a services program to achieve its aim of growing the company, according to Austvold—even if it does mean ruffling some feathers.

"If they want to double the size of the company, [developing a global services arm] is absolutely what they are going to have to do," said Austvold, in Boston. "They cant continue to just sell licensed versions of ERP [enterprise resource planning]. They have to expand the offering to infrastructure and services. This is the first step in offering services."

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