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NetWeaver looms large at TechEd

TechEd '04 San Diego attendees get ready to roll up their sleeves and test SAP's latest offerings.

SAN DIEGO -- Peter Loop, Intel Corp.'s chief architect for SAP applications, came to TechEd '04 San Diego to get...

his hands dirty.

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The San Diego Convention Center event wraps up SAP's 70-city tour to inform users how to deploy and use SAP's NetWeaver integration platform, and offers 300 workshops for testing some of SAP's newest technologies.

"That's the best part about it –- you can get your hands on the stuff," said Loop, who is based in Portland, Ore. Like plenty of his peers, Loop's SAP work these days is focused on NetWeaver and xApps, vertical industry composite applications that SAP is developing and encouraging its partners and customers to develop. About 150 xApps have been developed since SAP introduced them two years ago, in conjunction with the NetWeaver platform.

"Our first xApp is in progress," Loop said. "I'm very interested in the composite application framework. With Web services, SOA [service-oriented architectures], and ESA [enterprise service architectures] -- whatever you want to call it, the development tools are changing."

Our fist xApp is in progress. I'm very interested in the composite application framework. With Web services, SOA, and ESA -- whatever you want to call it, the development tools are changing.
Peter Loop
Chief architect, SAP applicationsIntel Corp.

SAP said xApps snap into place on top of whatever existing applications a user may have, regardless of platform or vendor. Composite applications can access data so a user can pull together all the relevant "pieces" of information on demand, rather than wasting time searching each application manually. This enhanced access to key data can be used to streamline business processes, especially in heterogeneous environments, according to SAP.

Enterprise application integration is a top priority for many TechEd attendees. For Intel, a shop running a lot of Microsoft systems, .NET connectivity with SAP products is a high priority, Loop said. In May, at SAP's annual Sapphire event, SAP CEO Henning Kagermann announced a new partnership with Microsoft designed to provide tools and training for better connectivity between SAP and .NET. So far, Loop said his team has been impressed. "We found that the .NET connectors are working well. There are pretty solid tools available."

Loop bought 1,000 copies of SAP's SAP NetWeaver for Dummies -- yes, 1,000. "Yeah, I gave them out to everyone -- at Intel." Several groups of Intel developers have begun implementing SAP components in various locations, Loop said. The books were provided at Sapphire, at the start of SAP's cross-continent NetWeaver educational tour.

"I think everyone would agree that SAP has put a lot of information out there," Loop said. "It's almost an overwhelming amount. But I'd rather have it be overwhelming than scant."

Hector Requana and Luis Poggi, two computer engineers and SAP architects with CANTV, the Venezuelan-based telecommunications giant, get their hands dirty a lot. They came to TechEd to find out more about NetWeaver and XI -- SAP's exchange infrastructure, which promises prepackaged integration with non-SAP vendors.

Requana, a repeat visitor, said he "came this year to learn mostly about NetWeaver." Their jobs, Poggi said, "are to determine the limitations and capabilities of XI.

"We're very concerned about integration," Poggi said. "Legacy systems? Everything you can imagine, we have it," he said. Poggi, who is attending his first TechEd event this year, was looking forward to tonight's SAP Developer Network Demo Jam Session, where executive board member Shai Agassi was scheduled to show off his favorite NetWeaver capabilities.

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