NetWeaver and ESA: The new integration glue

The integration message was short and to the point from SAP at the Sapphire customer conference in Orlando this week.

"Our NetWeaver and Enterprise Services Architecture technologies are the glue that will pull everything together," Shai Agassi, a member of the executive board of SAP AG, said Wednesday in an interview.

"Customers have shown keen interest in NetWeaver," Agassi said. The same is true of software development partners whose numbers now total more than 100, he said.

NetWeaver, introduced earlier this year, is a new integration and application server middleware serving as a platform on which all SAP business software will run.

Based on Web services standards, it can link disparate applications and data sources, and is designed with heterogeneous IT systems in mind. NetWeaver, for instance, is interoperable with Microsoft's .Net and IBM's WebSphere platforms. Users can provision Web services that have been developed in Java or SAP's own development language, ABAP.

But integration, Agassi said, is a means, not an end. "With NetWeaver, we aim to help companies integrate people, information and processes and thus lower operating costs," Agassi said. "That's an end goal."

The next release of NetWeaver, code-named Symphony, is due in 2004, according to Agassi.

As for the Enterprise Services Architecture (ESA), Agassi referred to the technology as "the biggest shift since R/3." It's the next "wave of infrastructure that will lead to the next level of applications," he said.

ESA is SAP's blueprint for creating Web services-based business software, according to Agassi. The technology provides companies with a template for creating Web services that extend across internal and external business systems. Moving ahead, all SAP solutions will be developed using the ESA blueprint, he said.

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