Looking to boost the enthusiasm of developers on its NetWeaver application and integration platform, SAP has hired a former Sun Microsystems executive to ramp up its plans.
George Paolini, an executive who was credited with building support for Java development for Sun, was recently named senior vice president for platform ecosystem development at SAP. He reports to SAP executive board member Shai Agassi.
"SAP is going through a pretty major transition from an enterprise applications company to an enterprise platform company, and with that comes the need to build out an ecosystem of ISVs [independent software vendors], developers and certainly systems integrators," Paolini said.
Paolini is heading a team that will launch a series of development kits to reach out to third-party application vendors to support development on its NetWeaver application and integration platform. The executive also intends to expand SAP's growing developer network to generate enthusiasm for development on the platform.
"We'll publish interfaces to various sets of services that will allow developers and ISVs to easily build applications that drive business processes, and that's a pretty significant change," Paolini said.
SAP, which launched NetWeaver in 2003, is using the platform to extend its entire technology stack, originally built with its proprietary ABAP programming language. NetWeaver is expanding SAP's reach, according to Paolini, to evolve into an open standard services-oriented architecture (SOA) supporting a variety of programming languages.
Paolini said he primarily will expand SAP's growing developer base. So far over 100,000 people joined the SAP Developer Network (SDN), an online portal for developers interested in building applications on NetWeaver.
"Java was and is a technology that allowed you to program independent of the underlying operating system, and that drew an enormous response from the developer community," Paolini said. "As SAP takes a [SOA] approach, we see the same demand out there for looking for ways to simplify application and services development on NetWeaver."
SDN is an SAP-controlled environment for developers, which offers free software downloads, sample code, forums, blogs and documentation for SAP software.
Paolini said the goal is to get more ISVs to launch products on NetWeaver and to enable customers to lobby for new features directly to the developer community.
Developer communities, created by large software vendors, will play a critical role in the development of the next generation of enterprise software and the emergence of SOAs, said Bill Richardson, senior vice president of research at Boston-based AMR Research.
In his research brief, "Battling Geek-o-Systems," Richardson said portals such as Microsoft's MSDN, which was formed in 1991, and Oracle's Technology Network, which launched in 1998, will continue to thrive.
Oracle has more than 4.1 million members of its network, according to Richardson.
"I see them transforming from a developer destination to more of an open source network or exchange where members add Web services, role-based scenarios and composite applications to a shared SOA repository," Richardson said.