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. 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 imaginary.

Understanding SAP Vendor Certifications

Executives are very big on using software that is “certified” to work with SAP. Vendors are very keen to get certified, knowing that they mean so much to the decision-makers in companies. At this date, it seems as if most vendors that I see have a certificate badge, like those listed above on their websites. However, interestingly, these certifications are meaningless. They do not actually mean much when it comes to implementation. All of the certifications are meaningless, but one is easily demonstrated as meaningless. This is the “Netweaver Certification.”

Is Netweaver Certification Good?

While it sounds quite impressive, the problem with this certification is that Netweaver is not actually a product. Therefore to say that one is certified in a vendor in Netweaver means that you can connect to a product which is a marketing construct, not a product. More about Netweaver is described in this article. SAP walks away from any obligation to insert accurate information in its interface certifications. This is a quote from one of their documents which were taken from a vendor’s site on the internet.

“SAP assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions in this document. SAP does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information, text, graphics, links, or other items contained within this material. This document is provided without a warranty of any kind, either express or implied, including but not limited to the implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, or non infringement.” – SAP

What is Technically Done in SAP Vendor Certifications?

Each certification comes with a certificate that seems to imply that work was done in integrating the non-SAP system with the SAP system. However, the certification does not mean that an actual adapter was created. However, all that is required for most of the certifications is to get some data to show up in SAP ERP. There is no volume requirement and no requirement that the interface is even close to comprehensive or bi-directional. It also does not take a complete workflow through the integration. Essentially, the certification means that some small subset of fields was taken from a flat file and put somewhere in SAP.

How the SAP Vendor Certifications Benefits the Best of Breed Vendor

This gets a vendor certification and a badge for their site, however, have very little meaning for the implementation. It means that the vendor has some familiarity with some SAP integration, but not enough to take an integrated solution live, and not really enough to even support an integrated demo. This is why the language of the certificate itself is a very high level. It describes the hardware the test was performed on, however, the certification does not test a working adapter that sends information in both directions in any real sense. Having read many of the certification design documents posted by vendors they actually describe very little about the work and are mostly a series of graphics.

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

SAP integration certifications do not mean that a company has even a working prototype of an adapter for connecting their systems to SAP. This can be easily determined by asking for a demonstration of the integration that was created to be provided during the software selection phase. Secondly, from a policy perspective the existence of the certification program causes non-SAP vendors that want to sell into SAP accounts to modify their language and in essence “play nice” with SAP.

Therefore, the certification program is an important intelligence-gathering tool, which also has anti-competitive implications. No software company should recommend or otherwise certify or approve other software companies any more than car companies should approve other car companies or banks approve other banks. It is a fundamentally anti-competitive activity.

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 merely 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 defunct. Knowledge management would seem to be SAP’s Solution Manager. But Solution Manager is not listed here, and Solution Manager is 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. Sadly, 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 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 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 mostly 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 do 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 the ridiculous articles I have read on enterprise technology in some time. I found I had to write an essay 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. By 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 persistent 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 lousy value because web page development usually is low in price. But, with SAP Netweaver Portal, the projects were at the regular rates of SAP consultants.

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

Advice on Enjoying the SAP Quiz

To see the full screen just select the lower right-hand corner and expand. Trust us, expanding makes the experience a whole lot more fun.


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