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Breaking down SAP's ESA strategy

@14323 BOSTON -- Understanding SAP's Enterprise Services Architecture message is the first step in transitioning a company to a services-based architecture. But many executives are still scratching their heads, according to Naeem Hashmi, chief research officer of Information Frameworks, an IT research and strategic consulting group in Londonderry, N.H.

Hashmi, a business intelligence and enterprise portals expert for, recently gave a presentation breaking down SAP's ESA strategy to IT experts at the software vendor's recent TechEd conference.

"Many of the presentations by SAP give varying definitions of ESA," Hashmi said, in an interview with "The bottom line is that they want to use NetWeaver as a platform to provide consistent business services around SAP."

Good IT governance and a hefty amount of planning should prepare most enterprises for the changes ahead, he said.

How do you describe SAP's Enterprise Services Architecture strategy?
ESA is quite confusing to many people. Many of the presentations by SAP give varying definitions. So even among SAP, it is not clear what message they want to give. The bottom line is that they want to use NetWeaver as a platform to provide consistent business services around SAP. At this point there is no focus on an enterprise architecture.

Why do you see no focus on an enterprise architecture when thinking ESA?
The architecture itself is the most abused term in the IT industry. Everyone will use architecture, framework, roadmap and model in sort of one breadth. And the terms have very different meanings. It's about how a business wants to conduct itself, manage and distribute information and set a strategy moving forward. SAP's ESA strategy today is mostly focused on specific business solutions, not necessarily the information management, content management, and other processes from a holistic perspective.

More on ESA:

Quiz: ESA, XI and the new era of integration

Webcast: Understanding SAP's Enterprise Services Architecture (ESA) initiative

So where does SAP fit in?
SAP takes these processes from vision to implementation and deployment. SAP provides the solution model, and it's mostly models and a roadmap on how to implement around NetWeaver in a nutshell. The enterprise defines the building blocks of its overall business operations strategy from a strategic objective and then it starts to map processes out. What role will ESA play in every enterprise?
Any company that has 100% SAP solutions doesn't have much choice in the matter. For now, it doesn't come down to coding, but instead, planning should begin with what organizational change has to take place. This change is not going to be developer focused, but mainly business analysts and management will play a larger role in future architectures. That will change the landscape of IT organizations. SAP executives have said the move to a service-oriented architecture (SOA) will be an evolution. Enterprises won't have to rip and replace entire systems. Do you see it that way?
The services concept is not new. SOA middleware has been around for sometime. ESA is a Web services implementation within a services-based architecture. Not everything has to be service oriented. If you are building a financial journal ledger item, not all that has to be broken and reassembled. That adds too much risk to the process itself. Instead, it's about how you manage this entire web of distributed Web services that is important. So some systems will have to be replaced?
When you look at your applications landscape, some of legacy apps take too much time to maintain. This is a normal progression. Replacement comes as a part of the enterprise services architecture exercise.

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