SAP looks to SOA for secure future

SAP really shouldn’t be interesting: it is a German software firm, making business applications that look after the back-office stuff that people don’t like to spend too much time thinking about.

  • E-Mail
By  Peter Branton Published  June 18, 2006

|~|commentkagerbody.jpg|~|Kagermann believes that SOA will give SAP the edge over Oracle.|~|SAP really shouldn’t be interesting: it is a German software firm, making business applications that look after the back-office stuff that people don’t like to spend too much time thinking about. Yet the firm has been quietly going about a process of dramatic transformation —overhauling its entire product lineup to take advantage of the industry shift towards service oriented architecture (SOA), a process that at least one executive at the firm has described as betting the whole company. The reason for its eagerness to do so may be gauged by what an executive at another software firm said about it last month. Vivek Ranadive, CEO and founder of integration software outfit Tibco, told delegates to his firm’s annual user conference earlier this year that: “Oracle and SAP have been extorting money from you for 20 years” before going on to claim that “The switch to SOA will end that.” SOA is one of those technologies which you need a white paper to comprehensively explain but its impact can be more easily grasped. Because it makes it simpler to deploy and manage software applications, allowing you to focus on the type of service that needs to be delivered rather than the underlying technology, it can — according to Ranadive at least — put an end to vendor lock-in. Instead of having to stay with the same application vendor (and database vendor, and so on), customers can switch suppliers much more easily. Such a view is less than comforting if you happen to be the firm that currently dominates the applications market: unless you choose to embrace SOA yourself of course. SAP has decided to take that route and at its Sapphire user event in Paris last month executives gave an indication of how far along it has managed to go on that path. This has not been a short-term project, the company began down this route in 2003 and the work is not finished yet. However, by next year, all of the products in SAP’s portfolio, including its mySAP business software suite, will be fully service-enabled. According to SAP CEO Henning Kagermann, the advantages of the move to SOA will be immediate — and enormous. “For a long, long time there will be no next [big thing]” he claims. “It’s really about reaching the full potential of this new concept.” Of course, there is also the little detail of beating the competition as well. While Kagermann can claim that his company’s mass move towards SOA has given it an advantage over arch-rival Oracle, the latter has not been standing still on this area and is looking at initiatives of its own. It has also of course been buying up as many software companies as it can, seeking to overturn SAP’s historical advantage however it can. The struggle between these two firms is set to rumble on over the next few years but at least it won’t be boring — and neither will SAP. ||**||

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code