SAP CTO assures users NetWeaver is

LAS VEGAS — SAP AG’s six-year-old NetWeaver platform is here to stay, the company’s chief technology officer told its annual user group conference here, arguing the stack approach advocated by other vendors isn’t the direction the industry is going.

The evolution of technologies and an attitude of open collaboration “enables us to rethink these stacks, to rethink these layers,” Vishal Sikka said in a keynote at SAP’s TechEd conference.

Of these stack wars, Sikka doesn’t believe customers are interested in being locked in to any one vendor because the reality is IT landscapes are heterogeneous. “I’ve never met a customer who’s looking for a stack … customers are looking for solutions to their challenges, to their problems,” he said.

As for NetWeaver, Sikka repeated the company’s continued commitment to the platform saying, “this is our platform” upon which SAP, customers and partners will innovate. SAP plans to ship NetWeaver 7.3 before the end of the year.

About 5,500 attendees are at SAP TechEd, an annual user conference where the themes this year are about making “this your event” to learn how SAP’s innovations with an open ecosystem can fit with customers’ business. A humorous onstage reference was made to show being the “American Idol of Technology” for the audience.

Sikka also reiterated the company’s three-pronged focus on the cloud, mobility and in-memory computing, and the recognition of today’s reality that is Web devices tethered to people.

Cloud is about making apps easily consumable via the Web as well as making them integrate with on-premise applications, said Sikka, which aren’t going away any time soon. SAP’s HANA in-memory database will be available end of November and should give, Sikka expects, the opportunity to rethink traditional apps.

Later at a press conference, Marge Breya, SAP’s executive vice-president and general manager of solutions, acknowledged that customers questioned the future of NetWeaver because hasn’t been a release in a while. But Breya said now that user concerns are expected to be allayed with the release of NetWeaver 7.3 in November, the next step is to decide how best to brand NetWeaver, Sybase (which SAP bought this year) and Business Objects (which it bought in 2007).

Breya said discussions are ongoing within SAP regarding whether to broaden the NetWeaver brand or create a new one.

In an interview with ComputerWorld Canada, Cindy Jutras, vice-president and group director with Boston, Mass.-based research firm Aberdeen Group, said branding is ultimately not important to the end user who actually toils on the technology. Whatever SAP chooses to do regarding branding, “in some respects the public is going to brand it,” said Jutras.

What the end user really cares about, said Jutras, is how well these different acquired technologies interplay. Moving forward, Jutras added it remains to be seen whether SAP will continue to synchronize development of its offerings, which is the reason for the “dry spell” with NetWeaver.

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau

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