SAP's NetWeaver platform has big potential to create new jobs for developers as companies add Web services and new analytics to their systems, according to a recent study by Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc.
NetWeaver's complexity is driving companies to place business intelligence (BI) application development back in the hands of application developers, said Keith Gile, a senior analyst at Forrester. Many companies have grown accustomed to building customized BI applications with non-developers, such as business analysts, who use Wizard-based tools to get around structured code languages, Giles said.
"If companies are going to exploit the advantages of NetWeaver, I think there will be a short-term cost shift here, including training issues and additional staff requirements," Giles said.
NetWeaver technologies include the enterprise portal; business intelligence and master data management; exchange infrastructure; Web application server; and a composite applications framework.
SAP said that in a composite application framework, business processes that can leverage existing systems are built easily and quickly. Application developers can develop complex applications by relying on Web services, XML and other standard interchange formats to make their lives easier, Giles said.
The jobs that will crop up around the NetWeaver infrastructure will need to be filled by IT professionals with a combination of ABAP programming and Java skills, said Jon Reed, a SearchSAP.com site expert and managing editor of SAPtips.com.
"What will be needed is a hybrid programmer who understands the ABAP environment but also has Web services and programming understanding," Reed said. "With NetWeaver, SAP has a clever way of wrapping their core code around much more Web services-friendly technologies without having to rewrite all the internal code -- and companies are starting to take advantage of that."
ABAP programmers can help avoid losing their jobs by learning about Web development and portals technology, Reed said.
Jobs associated with NetWeaver won't likely be outsourced overseas, according to Giles. Too much intellectual property is involved in building BI applications, Giles said.
"These jobs tend to be very specialized and very proprietary," Giles said. "It's a different group of skilled people who will be building these applications."