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SAP introduces NetWeaver individual licenses, improvements

The latest changes to NetWeaver include development licenses for individuals and improvements to its composition environment, enterprise services repository and process integration.

LAS VEGAS -- SAP will offer individual NetWeaver development licenses and is upgrading its composition environment, the company announced at its annual TechEd event Tuesday.

The NetWeaver development subscription, for developers doing Java- or ABAP-based development, is priced at $2,300 per year in the U.S. and 1,750 euros in Germany. It is available on the SAP Developer Network(SDN) Website and will be expanded to other countries next year, according to SAP. The SDN currently has more than 900,000 members, and its developer forums generate more than 5,500 posts per day, according to Peter Zencke, SAP board member and keynote speaker at the conference.

"I think this is a great move for SAP," said Ray Wang, principal analyst for Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc. "It's the next step in expanding the overall SAP ecosystem and empowering individuals to build 'last-mile' solutions."

These "last-mile solutions" include things like customized user interfaces and Java-based applications. Wang added that expanding the program into countries with creative software talent, such as Ireland, Israel, India, China, Taiwan and Japan, would further aid this cause.

TechEd attendees also seemed generally enthusiastic about the offering.

"We work a lot with integration," said Steve Reinecker of Bellevue, Wash.-based Captaris Inc., a workflow and electronic document software company. "So, getting a developer license at a low cost is interesting and something we would consider."

The license, which includes software, services and educational materials, can be used for internal development and evaluation purposes, but not production use.

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NetWeaver upgrades

At Tuesday morning's keynote, SAP's chief technology officer Vishal Sikka, also announced the availability of NetWeaver 7.1. The major improvements included SAP NetWeaver Composition Environment (CE), Enterprise Services Repository and process integration.

The new version of SAP's Enterprise Services Repository will help govern and manage enterprise service-oriented architecture (ESOA) projects and is now available, according to SAP. NetWeaver Process Integration, available later this year, will include additional industry standards and a new event infrastructure to let companies monitor business events and resolve alerts in real time, according to an SAP press release.

There are now more than 18,100 NetWeaver customers and NetWeaver revenues increased by 50% in the first half of 2007, according to SAP.

NetWeaver Composition Environment 7.1, which supports Java Enterprise Edition 5 and works with Eclipse, seemed to generate the most buzz. It allows users to develop and edit business processes across different technologies in one environment and is globally available.

Users were high on some future capabilities that were previewed, including a drag-and-drop interface to allow less technical users, such as business process experts, to develop processes.

Christy Ellis of Wichita, Kan.-based Spirit AeroSystems, said that the drag-and-drop mapping capabilities of CE looked interesting and that her company would be open to trying the latest CE release.

However, those who have not upgraded to SAP ERP 6.0 may not benefit just yet.

Christopher Clemenson, senior systems analyst for Fargo, N.D.-based Border States Electric Supply thought NetWeaver CE looked promising because it allows business process experts to focus on the actual processes rather than the code behind it. However, like many SAP customers, Border States has not yet upgraded to SAP ERP 6.0, and has no hard timeline to do so.

"We're still on [SAP ERP] 4.7, so moving to Java-based development is a leap," Clemenson said. "It seems a little far off for us."

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