SAP Steers Customers to SOAs

SAP makes the move to SOAs easier with new integration tools.

SAP AG wants customers to begin moving to a service-oriented architecture, and to help them along, the enterprise software developer is developing the tools that will make it all possible.

SAPs Enterprise Services Architecture will help users rapidly respond to changing business needs and innovate quickly without changing core processes, said SAP CEO Henning Kagermann at the companys Sapphire user conference here last week.

At the core of the Walldorf, Germany, companys SOA plan is its NetWeaver integration software, which, along with SAPs suite of business applications, will be services-based by 2007, Kagermann said.

"From the NetWeaver side, the most important part is that next year we will have this Enterprise Service Repository," he said. "From an application side, the key piece is to deliver these services because it crosses all applications. Therefore, I made this whole road map three years."

The next step for NetWeaver, in 2005, is to enable model-driven development so that a developer can be productive and make use of an SOA, according to Franz-Josef Fritz, vice president of NetWeaver. This includes building out a set of templates that enable developers to reuse patterns—or models—based on reusable business objects. The templates will be a finite, well-defined group, with about a dozen templates covering object interfaces and another dozen for user interaction, Fritz said.

SAP is also working on separating the process layer from the object layer within applications to enable more agile process integration, according to Fritz.

At the same time, there needs to be better integration between the MySAP ERP (enterprise resource planning) applications and NetWeaver, officials said. That will be accomplished to some degree in the 2004 version of MySAP ERP, which will ramp up the first week of July and ship the first quarter of next year. A new piece in MySAP ERP 2004 is SAP ERP Central Component 5.0, which provides for much better integration with NetWeaver, said company officials. For example, this will allow users to run SAPs business warehouse integrated on the same server as applications.

The version of MySAP ERP due next year will include an Enterprise Services Repository that will aggregate and store services, officials said.

Ian Robertson, director of IT, Americas at Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co., is using SAPs R/3 and Enterprise Portal 5.0, which has components of NetWeaver. "From a philosophical standpoint, a company like SAP, to move from proprietary to saying, We have to build an architecture thats open, we have to collaborate, modularize, is so significant a change that they have to believe in what they are doing," said Robertson in Chicago. "Weve [all] been trying to objectize SOA for years"; this is a realization of that.

SAP is getting help in making its SOA vision a reality for developers through an agreement with Microsoft Corp. that was announced at the show. SAP will run a beta program this summer that will let developers using Microsofts ASP .Net customize and extend SAP applications.

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