SAP Set To Introduce NetWeaver Tools

New SOA-based offerings highlight Sapphire plans

SAP AG next week is expected to roll out what it calls the final piece of a set of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) technologies built to support its business applications.

A SAP spokesman said that the new SOA-based NetWeaver products will be unveiled at the Sapphire 2007  user conference in Atlanta. However, he declined to provide details of the products to be introduced.

The NetWeaver line includes a portal, a business data warehouse and data cleansing tools. The technology lets users create workflows for linking SAP and non SAP applications,, the vendor claims.

The spokesman said that SAP also plans to announce that it has extended agreements with third party vendors, including Adobe Systems Inc., to expand NetWeaver support in their applications.

The company’s Governance, Risk, and Compliance unit will also announce new products during the conference, he said.

Rodney Masney, global director of IT infrastructure services at Owens-Illinois Inc., a Toledo, Ohio-based maker of packaging materials, said there is a great deal of interest among customers in learning about SAP’s SOA offerings, though his company has no plans to use them at this time.

Masney, also president of the Americas’ SAP Users’ Group, said that his company is currently rolling out SAP’s MySAP 2004 ERP applications to its worldwide locations.

A potential downside to SAP’s SOA efforts, noted Masney, came with the abrupt departure last month of Shai Agassi, former president of the SAP Product and Technology Group, and the architect of the company’s SOA strategy.

“We’re sad to see Shai go,” said Masney. “He was a man of tremendous vision and breadth and depth and a key to SAP’s overall NetWeaver platform strategy.”

The SAP spokesman contended that Agassi’s departure won’t affect SAP’s strategy and that the company’s SOA team continues to execute Agassi’s strategy.

David Dobrin, an analyst at B2B Analysts Inc., a Cambridge, Mass., consulting firm, said that SAP also needs to show users that it can focus less on its competition with rival Oracle Corp. and more on building better products for its users.

“The enemy is not the Oracle sales division, but the glacial changes in the market,” Dobrin said.

The company should instead focus on building lighter, more flexible applications with Web 2.0 interfaces that are attractive to both business and consumer users, he said..

SAP officials project that the Sapphire conference will attract some 14,000 attendees to Atlanta.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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