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NetWeaver Open Lock-in?

Helmuth Gümbel December 2005


Table of Contents

Why you need to read this

The State of Application Architecture

Why Service Oriented Architecture can help

Why does SAP engage on Middleware?

Is SAP likely to Succeed?

How should SAP-Users Approach ESA, SOA, and related License Upgrades?

Bottom Line

Table of Figures

Why you need to read this

This paper is intended to supply CIOs with information needed to critically assess their investments in middleware in an SAP environment. Middleware investments have become strategic: they have a long lasting effect and significant money will go into these investments over time. Correcting a wrong decision can border on the impossible or can be at least, expensive and complicated. Settling with a compromise can embarrassingly limit your company's ability to embrace the future.

SAP has been immensely successful with its enterprise application software. Over more than twenty years, the core of its applications has grown in function without a major architectural overhaul. While SAP has added many advanced components, the original application paradigm has been left unchanged.

The result is a suite that is more complex and far more expensive to operate than competing products with more recent architectures. SAP is aware of its two most critical issues: the need to free customers from their current cost and complexity, and to deliver a new architecture to carry them into the future. SAP needs to reinvent its business.

Hence, in the years to come, SAP is planning to restructure its product set around a new architecture based on the proprietary NetWeaver platform. This service oriented architecture (SOA, or, in SAP speak, ESA) is bound to have far reaching consequences for SAP's products and hence for SAP customers. SAP plans to introduce this shift in a series of steps that are likely to cost between three and six times the license cost of current R/3 installations. There is the likelihood that SAP will need to charge for upgrading current licenses, in a similar way to the transition to mySAP.

What does this mean for customers? What are the inherent risks of deploying this new technology? Will it truly be able to deliver on the promise of a SOA?

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