Netweaver Portal not needed anymore?

July 17, 2010

I recently sat in on a number of Ramp Up Knowledge Transfer (RKT) sessions for SAP ERP HCM Employee Self Service (ESS) and Manager Self Service (MSS). Over the last couple of years SAP have talked to many customers about their requirements in this area, in particular smaller customers, who want to reduce the current cost of ownership, in short the portal environment is too expensive for them.

The majority of SAP Netweaver Portal deployments have typically been vertically focused only, providing access to SAP applications in particular ESS and MSS. Only large enterprises and wall-to-wall SAP shops seem to use SAP Portal for content management, application integration and collaboration. The feedback from many customers who have reluctantly implemented the Netweaver Portal to take advantage of SAP functionality is that it is a bloated collection of un-pluggable applications, too rigid and constrained for them to consider as a complete horizontal portal solution.

Starting with Enhancement Pack 5 (Ehp5), the SAP Enterprise Portal infrastructure is not mandatory for ESS and MSS functionality. All role content will be ABAP based and applications will be deployed using Webdynpro for ABAP (WD4A) Floor Plan Manager (FPM).

The move from Java to ABAP potentially means for a lot of custmers no more dependence on the Portal, no need for a Java stack or Java development and technical resources.

Could the porting of ESS from Java to ABAP be the beginning of the end of SAP Netweaver Portal or is this part of a strategy for meeting the different customer technology requirements?

Gartner adds insight in its Magic Quadrant for Horizontal Portals report 2009

Some customers are looking to expose SAP transactions in other portals.

SAP has shifted from its original strategy of Netweaver Portal being the only portal necessary across large enterprises to one accepting the existence of other portal technologies.

The report also says

Netweaver Portal has some gaps when compared with other leading horizontal portal products in content management, collaboration, social networking and enterprise mashup capability.

This would explain some of the other more predictable ways SAP are improving the cost of owning Netweaver Portal for their customers, including:

  • an enhanced configurable Ajax framework with widgets and drop and drag functionality
  • an improved WYSIWYG Web Page Composer with mashup capabilities
  • personal and shared Workspaces
  • Wiki and Forum applications
  • automated and integrated transports
  • greater interoperability and openness through industry standards
  • Not to mention some of complimentary ECM, BPM and EIM applications available from SAP and partners

    For many who were looking for an out these changes will represent the beginning of end of thier Netweaver Portal journey. For those companies identified as already having a multi portal landscape these changes will be seen as options and opportunities, likewise for those who haven’t yet thought about it.  For the companies who have chosen Netweaver as a platform for compostition and collaboration they will see the changes as a sign of a platform maturing.