Did SAP NetWeaver Ever Actually Exist?

Executive Summary

  • SAP has proposed that Netweaver was revolutionary, however, nothing really changed on SAP projects after it was introduced.
  • How accurate was SAP on Netweaver?

This is a graphical depiction of the content of SAP’s NetWeaver. Study it very carefully, can you see anything? 

The Nothingness of SAP Netweaver

For some years now SAP has been using the term SAP Netweaver as if it actually exists. SAP has been confusing people for some time with utter nonsense, and even other vendors that integrate to SAP have jumped on board declaring their software to be “NetWeaver Compliant.” I have been asked about NetWeaver compliance several times by different vendors (which is one of the reasons for writing this post) and told them that being compliant with something is a simple matter…if that thing does not exist. In fact, the entire SCM Focus website has been 100% NetWeaver Compliant for years now. Here is the badge to prove it.

Please don’t laugh, this certificate means as much as any of the certificates displayed on SAP’s vendor partners websites, that is they are all equally illusory.

This brings up a secondary question, which is how much are integration certifications to SAP actually worth on projects. The answer will surprise a lot of decision-makers who think that a SAP certified adapter is something of value which can be implemented on a project. This covered in the post here.

Understanding the “Refrigerator” Diagram

When NetWeaver was “introduced” they released several diagrams to help explain (err… misinform?) to people what it was.  Because NetWeaver is not anything, they changed this diagram several times over the years, probably depending upon which marketing honcho at SAP has to have which vision at the time of how they wanted to position their fake product. Here is one version of the diagram below:

This picture, called “the refrigerator” has had different SAP applications added and subtracted over the years as SAP product marketing has tried to figure out what the NetWeaver message should be. Lifecycle management is the right site, which is just weird because lifecycle management is distributed through different modules in SCM and ERP, and does not belong in an infrastructure slide.

So as you can see NetWeaver is made up of many subcomponents. However you will notice that NetWeaver does not seem to do anything, it is simply a container. That is one problem that NetWeaver itself is entirely composed of other products. However, a second problem is the relationship between the products, and that none of these components are related to one another. What does knowledge management have to do with master data? If master data is meant to mean SAP’s MDM, that product is now kaput. Knowledge management would seem to be SAP’s Solution Manager, but Solution Manager is not listed here, and Solution Manager is actually going away as a document management system and is being redirected to being an ALM which is discussed in this post. This means that SAP should update the diagram to remove knowledge management as they don’t offer a viable product in this area (companies have pushed their documentation to Microsoft SharePoint).

What do these things have to do with process integration? What does process integration have to do with the application platform? The whole combination is a logical mess. If we drill down some more, further inconsistency appears. The application platform area is quite strange. Most of SAP is written in ABAP, but some components are written in J2EE. However, a vendor’s application components are not typically listed as their “products.” Secondly, the code of a product is not a platform; it’s the application code. These are two completely different things. This may seem like a minor issue to a person in marketing, but to a person who works in solutions, it is quite a big deal.

SAP Netweaver as a NonProduct Filled with Unrelated Things

The items represented in the diagram above are merely a loose jumble of unrelated products. It’s sad that someone at SAP was paid to spend hours thinking about how to put these boxes together. The main issue is that these are separate products, programming languages and unknown concepts that are not part of any greater platform called “NetWeaver.” SAP just adds the term “NetWeaver” in front of a real product. That is the extent of NetWeaver’s impact on SAP’s solution.

The Outcome of SAP NetWeaver

As with the promotion of something, which does not actually exist, there were negative consequences to the SAP NetWeaver program.

  1. Wasted Time: Consultants and clients had to spend time interpreting the marketing information surrounding SAP NetWeaver.
  2. Future Selling: Netweaver was used to provide a false hope to many problematic SAP implementations. As in “If you are concerned right now, don’t worry because HANA is coming.” And in the end, NetWeaver delivered nothing to these projects but empty promises.
  3. Confusion as to NetWeaver Benefits: NetWeaver, which was essentially isolated to the infrastructure layer, was generalized to improve the actual application – such as its business logic. NetWeaver had nothing to do with business logic, but SAP is implied that it did, and Accenture backed up SAP in this false assertion.

A Zero Independence Policy

Why does Accenture and the other consulting firms simply parrot SAP’s marketing hyperbole to its clients? Its very simple, Accenture has zero independence from SAP. A big part of Accenture’s revenue stream is built around SAP implementations, and they are not about to contradict the goose that lays the golden eggs. They are willing parts of SAP’s sales arm. So whatever SAP says, is fine and dandy with all of the SAP consulting firms – they just want to bill hours. A lot of people at Accenture want to make partner you see, and they will need to give out false information to do so.

Was Anyone Paying Attention?

SAP NetWeaver has been around for a while; no one seems to have called SAP on it. I find that strange. Analysts have been some of the most bullish people on SAP Netweaver. For years, analysts have been writing about SAP Netweaver not only as if it were a product as if it was something fantastic, new and inventive. As difficult as it is for me to believe, SAP has received significant benefits from the NetWeaver construct, including a ton of positive press. Therefore, the reinforcement SAP has received from lying has been all positive, which leads to the next point…

SAP Marketing is at it Again…with “HANA”

Since SAP got away with it with NetWeaver, they appear to be at it again, this time with “Hana.” Hana has definite NetWeaver overtones, but the buzzwords used by SAP to describe it are even more extreme than what was used for NetWeaver (in memory appliances, etc…). The article which describes HANA is by Gartner and is one of ridiculous articles I have read on enterprise technology in some time. I found I had to write an article on Gartner’s article which I can be read here. Gartner takes a lot of money from SAP, but they should do a better job of hiding their bias. It’s hard though when someone is paying your millions every year.

However, since so few people who work in enterprise software ever question statements made by SAP, perhaps it is not a problem. SAP has made enormous efforts to turn Gartner into an arm of SAP’s marketing department, showing their displeasure at the slightest hints of accuracy in Gartner’s coverage of their products, particularly their problems doing anything with the Business Objects acquisition, and SAP can be very insistent and persuasive.

Additions to Article in 2017

SAP Gateway and the SAP Netweaver Gateway

SAP Gateway is also referred to as SAP Netweaver Gateway is a framework and ABAP add-ons to allow SAP ERP to connect to an API. SAP Netweaver Gateway has nothing to do with anything specific to a “Netweaver” and is a marketing construct.

The SAP Gateway is another illogical use of the term Netweaver.

Instead of confusing matters, the SAP Gateway should simply be called the SAP Gateway rather than the SAP Netweaver Gateway.

SAP Netweaver Portal

For a long time SAP pushed portals. One example of this was the web pages that allowed collaboration for the SAP SNC product. Portals were quite popular as discussion, points, but very few of the portal projects were successful. The SAP Netweaver Portal again had nothing to do with any real Netweaver construct and was just a term that was applied to standard web pages technologies. SAP Netweaver Portal was a particularly bad value because web page development is normally low in price, but with SAP Netweaver Portal, the projects were at the normal rates of SAP consultants.

 SAP Netweaver Portal was simply uncompetitive, and now the term SAP Netweaver Portal is almost never heard on projects.

Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

Neither this article nor any other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle, SAP or their competitors. As part of our commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research; no paid media placements, commissions or incentives of any nature are allowed.

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