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The executive's discussion of SAP's Enterprise Services Architecture hints that customers might not understand what the company is doing.ORLANDO, Fla.It's not common to hear impromptu applause during a keynote addressespecially at a tech conferencebut applause there was during Shai Agassi's May 17 speech at Sapphire, SAP AG's annual user conference.
With little fanfare, the SAP executive board member stepped on the stage and quickly launched into a software demonstration of a company placing a rush order for big screen TVs.
With the click of a laptop button, a report appeared on the screen, displaying what those in the know knew to be critical information for the buyer placing the order.
SAP launched the mySAP ERP on May 17, at this year's Sapphire event here in Orlando.
Agassi then put up an old slidemaybe from Sapphire '03that outlined SAP's ESA (Enterprise Services Architecture).
ESA is SAP's services-based architecture that it has designed its products around, and is advocating for customers.
It's the SOA (service oriented architecture) strategy SAP announced about three years agoa drum beat that SAP has sounded resolutely since ESA's announcement on Jan. 15, 2003.
"This is the classic ESA slide that shows the power of ESA. We are not departing from that," said Agassi. "That was the enabler for what we put in place, and I wanted to reintroduce that."
What SAP has put in place since it first introduced the concept of ESA is the underlying technology platform, NetWeaveressentially a middleware platform that takes on development, master data management and integration, among other infrastructure components.
At the same time, SAP's componentized its applicationsor at least is well down the roadand created the first ERP suite (mySAP ERP 2005, released May 17) that encompasses ESA and NetWeaver.
It also created an Enterprise Services Repository, with the first 500 mySAP ERP 2005 Web services documented and productized.
It's possible customers aren't quite getting it.
Next Page: The foundation.
"This is now the foundation," said Agassi. "You need to get on this foundation in order to understand what we're doing."
In the next breath, Agassi asked,: "What is SOA? I'll repeat it one more time, so we can all understand."
Agassi said SOA is based on a set of standards that businesses and the IT industry, by and large, agree on.
But what's needed, he said, is shared and agreed-upon semanticsan area SAP has put a lot of work into with its Enterprise ServicesWeb services with defined business logic.
"Enterprise services with technology is the combination of our roadmap going forward," said Agassi.
"It's the fundamental differentiator of what we do versus all other [vendors]. In all others, you have components, or a collection of components, but they don't come together."
Agassi predicted that by the end of the decade companies will no longer buy stand-alone applications; rather, they will buy suites for the industry they are in.
For SAP, that means developing business applications around six specific jobs: compliance, consolidation, network optimization, managing relationships, managing performance and driving performance.
From the first job to the sixth job, what SAP strives for is transparency, Agassi said.
And it's why companies should move forward with SAP, he said.
"If you want to take on an organization and go naked, you better make sure you're buff before you do," said Agassi. "Consider [ESA] your six pack."
As SAP completes its ESA roadmap in 2007 (as scheduled, officials say) by putting applications on top of its services-based architecture, there are five "simple steps" users need to take to get on board, Agassi said.
He said they must make sure there is a solid master data management backbone in place; upgrade to mySAP ERP 2005 ("It's not such a big step," said Agassi); expand the use of the suite to encompass concepts like on demand or PLM (product lifecycle management); drive analytics to the masses; and connect the knowledge worker into the new environment through data and processes.
"Hopefully this is valuable," said Agassi. "We've opened up processes [and] accelerated information."
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