I quite often get questions on what’s happening with our SAP NetWeaver platform and what direction it is taking. While I could easily spend an hour on elaborating this in detail, let’s not bore you to death but rather try to give you the quick elevator pitch.
First of all, it is important to understand that we have more than 70.000 productively used SAP NetWeaver systems out there with our customers. Around half of those are underlying applications infrastructure for our SAP Business Suite solution, the other half is “standalone” NetWeaver hubs like SAP NetWeaver Portal or SAP NetWeaver Process Integration. So our customers are not only using SAP NetWeaver to run their mission-critical core applications, but also to extend and integrate those solutions with both SAP and non-SAP IT landscapes for processes and their end users.
It is clear that SAP NetWeaver, our core technology platform, is therefore absolutely strategic to the business of our customers and partners. And so it is for SAP!
As a consequence, we keep investing into this core technology platform. Main investment areas are of course the further improvement of the capabilities of the NetWeaver components in detail, but specific efforts flow into the areas of further simplifications in system landscape management, e.g. through our SAP NetWeaver Landscape Virtualization Management (LVM) solution, extensive integration into SAP Solution Manager for end-to-end solution management, business downtime optimization through e.g. Near Zero Downtime Maintenance procedures, usability enhancements like SAP UI5, NetWeaver Business Client with Sidepanel and many many more.
One of the clear constraints under which we keep evolving this core SAP NetWeaver infrastructure is strictly backward compatibility. As I had written in one of my prior blog posts, we have consolidated the various NetWeaver release lines into a single one (starting with the merged NW 7.03 and 7.31 ABAP lines) and will keep shipping additional “Enhancement Packages” or releases in a compatible, “non-disruptive” manner in sync with SAP Business Suite.
At the same time, our technology portfolio has grown beyond the core SAP NetWeaver solution bundle over the past years: SAP NetWeaver Gateway, SAP NetWeaver Identity Managament, SAP NetWeaver Single-Sign On and others carry the NetWeaver brand but are not per se part of the solution bundle and it’s release cycle.
We’ve been harmonizing the independent schedules, but currently they are a bit shorter than those of the NetWeaver bundle to allow us to bring new capabilities to market quicker in these younger ones of our NetWeaver products.
While we keep investing significantly into the classical SAP NetWeaver core platform as described above, we have to take into consideration that the whole IT industry is currently experiencing major changes, driven by a number of mega trends. Most prominent within those trends are the areas of Big Data, of Cloud computing and Mobile. These topics are reflected in our innovative extensions into the realm of SAP HANA, our in-memory, column-store database platform, our SAP NetWeaver Cloud platform (aka NEO or HANA Cloud Platform) and various extensions into the Mobile platform space.
In the area of SAP HANA, our blazingly fast completely in-memory, column-store database, we’re evolving NetWeaver along three directions:
First, we port all of our NetWeaver offerings to HANA as a fully standard-compliant SQL database. We’ve done that for ABAP already, as it is used in SAP Business Warehouse on HANA since May 2012. But we’re also porting our JEE engine and all the NetWeaver hubs to HANA and will make those available to the market during the course of the next months.
Second, we are optimizing our SAP NetWeaver portfolio by taking specific advantage of the unbelievable speed of SAP HANA. One obvious example is our Business Rules engine, which we have re-implemented in HANA itself to bring the rules execution as close to the data itself as possible and therefore be able to reduce evaluation that otherwise have taken hours down to mere seconds. Imagine what these factors of performance improvements mean e.g. to customer segmentation for marketing purposes or data analysis in the area fraud detection.
Finally, we are bringing completely new capabilities to our SAP NetWeaver platform, like we did with SAP Operational Process Intelligence, the newest kid on our SAP NetWeaver Process Orchestration portfoilo, that allows Lines of Business to monitor and react in realtime to custom defined KPIs on processes that run across a complex system landscape, whether it is implicit processes running through many users in an ERP system, or classic Workflow processes or business processes executed in our BPM solution. This solution wouldn’t be possible without the power of SAP HANA.
What you need to definitely check out — and where it is actually extremely easy to get your hands dirty with — is our SAP NetWeaver Cloud platform. It is our open and standards-based development platform-as-a-service for Java developers with the ability to plug in additional frameworks like node.js or php in the near future. It can furthermore host a variety of contemporary, standard programming models for enterprise class application development like Spring, Ruby and others. You can use it to extend your existing business processes quickly and easily into the cloud with a compelling mobile experience, use it as an extension platform to, for example, SuccessFactors solutions, or build brand new applications from scratch to meet new business needs. You take care of your application, SAP takes care the rest!
We now offer free, unlimited developer licenses and you can easily sign-up online at our Dev Center in the SAP Community Network. Once you’ve update your Eclipse Dev Environment with the NW Cloud tools from our Eclipse Update Site, you’ll have your first hello world app developed, deployed and up and running within 5 minutes max. Promised!
SAP NetWeaver Cloud offers native integration with SAP and other back-end applications, I comes as a standards-based development and run-time environment, so there is no vendor lock-in and no steep learning curve for developers. It offers Portal capabilities through SAP NetWeaver Cloud Portal for quickly building appealing, mobile-enabled websites that connect applications, reports, and unstructured content from various sources. With its federated Identity Management and Single-Sign On solution you can seamlessly access applications, even across on-premise and cloud. And last, but not least, it gives you access to the speed and scale of in-memory computing technology with SAP HANA! All of this running in the SAP Cloud, managed by SAP for you!
And we are adding new services every quarter. The next ones to expect are Integration-as-Service, which is the cloud extension of our SAP NetWeaver Process Integration platform. And “Mobility-as-a-Service” that our colleagues from the SAP Mobile Platform are developing together with us.
“Mobility-as-a-Service” comes with the official name SAP Mobile Platform Cloud Edition. It naturally complements our on-premise SAP Mobile Platform. We plan to make it available within 2013. It allows you to extend your on-premise business processes and solutions via our Cloud infrastructure to mobile devices of various sorts and form factors for a certain set of mobile applications. It supports the on-boarding of users and their devices, helps you manage your mobile applications and their access rights, and securely connects them with the processes in your on-premise backend if needed.
Two further important examples on how we are evolving SAP NetWeaver into the mobile space are SAP NetWeaver Gateway, which allows you to access to business processes and data running in the SAP Business Suite using standard protocols http(s), REST and OData. With those, it’s extremely easy and efficient to access existing backend functionality from mobile applications, whether natively coded in Google Android or Apple iOS or whether you’re using one of the many mobile HTML5-based SDKs. One of which is SAP UI5.
SAP UI5 is our standards-based HTML5 control library. It supports not only mobile devices running e.g. Android or iOS, smartphones or tablets, but also all major desktop browsers. It comes with a rich set of fully customizable UI controls, from simple buttons to complex dynamic layout containers or charts for analytical data. It is based on jQuery and can be extended using custom-written or 3rd party UI control libraries.
So this was thought to give you just a quick glimpse into what is currently happening with SAP NetWeaver and what the directions are into which we are taking things…
Bing, 1410th floor. Are we there already???
P.S.: All the usual disclaimers apply…