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The Christening of Java at SAPPHIRE

SAP is changing the playing field on the application front by standardizing on J2EE and Web services to promote more fluidity and ease of integration from its environment into other applications.


Market Commentary
The Christening of Java at SAPPHIRE?
By: Tyler McDaniel, Director, Application Strategies, and Simon Yates, Director, Web Services and Application Servers

At SAPPHIRE this week in Orlando, FL, SAP broke the champagne bottle over the bow of its new infrastructure. Now in full release, the SAP Exchange Infrastructure and the SAP Web Application Server and Web Dynpro make up the architecture foundation upon which SAP will continue to drive its broad spectrum of business applications and portal offerings.

SAP is delivering not only an infrastructure that supports its existing ABAP architecture, but also supports J2EE. Following on the heals of Hasso Plattner's speech at this year's JavaOne, this full release is the culmination of a long term strategy to open the SAP environment and embrace a more fluid vision of applications and infrastructure.

THE HURWITZ TAKE: Hurwitz Group is bullish on SAP's move to support and deliver a J2EE application server infrastructure - and some would say "it's about time". Long criticized for pushing its proprietary ABAP architecture, SAP's move is not about playing catch up in the application server market, because SAP does not need a new revenue stream in J2EE infrastructure to support growth. Instead, the strategy is recognition that the customer base is adopting another provider's J2EE application server to run SAP applications and portal offerings. Can you say "one stop shopping?" Furthermore, SAP is changing the playing field on the application front by standardizing on J2EE and Web services to promote more fluidity and ease of integration from its environment into other applications.

A few early implementations should be all the proof needed to show that SAP can deliver robust J2EE technology. The real pull through comes in up-selling its own customer base when they run through the check box listing of pieces of software infrastructure that they need. The J2EE application server market is as heated as ever; yes, there are fewer legitimate players and the midmarket has been underserved, but issues of standardization and migration from one product to another make this market very dynamic once again. Hurwitz Group research shows time and again that on large software infrastructure choices, buyers would like to limit there purchase to a single suite vendor or just a few, stable best-of-breed providers. SAP is now much more than just applications, and it has done a pretty good job of delivering those.

SAP has the muscle and savvy to make a steady business out of its new infrastructure. The key is that it has not abandoned the existing ABAP architecture, but has complemented it with J2EE. Delivering this vision and infrastructure changes the balance that currently exists in the Java infrastructure community. Hurwitz Group has witnessed the usual suspects in this space roll out added infrastructure, integration, and portal functionality over the last several years. IBM, Sybase, Sun, BEA, and Oracle have all done it. Sun is now even marrying its application server to Solaris. But none of these large scale providers have come through the front door of business applications. The breadth and robustness of SAP applications that made it a luxury liner in the sea of business has now officially been given a matching infrastructure that only extends its value, openness, and flexibility.

The application server market is no longer a pure technology sell. BEA, IBM, Oracle, and Sun battle it out with sales incentives to steal competitor business, playing right into the hands of SAP. What better way to insulate its customers from the application server migration nightmare than by introducing its own J2EE infrastructure? With that said, SAP's pricing and licensing strategy remains under wraps for now, but the application vendor has the opportunity to take a serious chunk of market share if it can execute the business strategy behind the technology.


Copyright 2002 Hurwitz Group Inc. This article is excerpted from TrendWatch, a weekly publication of Hurwitz Group Inc. - an analyst, research, and consulting firm. To register for a free email subscription, click here.

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