SAP's NetWeaver isn't dead yet

The company has reaffirmed the middleware stack's strategic value to its plans

SAP voiced strong support and provided an updated road map for its NetWeaver platform on Tuesday, further suggesting that the company has no immediate plans to shore up its middleware portfolio by purchasing a vendor such as Tibco.

"Now more than ever, SAP NetWeaver is the strategic platform for SAP," CTO Vishal Sikka said in a statement tied to an address he gave Tuesday at the TechEd conference in Berlin.

NetWeaver 7.3 is to be released later this year and will include "greatly enhanced" support for Java, including Java EE5 certification; improved Web services standards support; beefed-up identity management capabilities; and various productivity improvements, including enterprise "workspaces," SAP said.

NetWeaver deployments have been growing more than 20 percent per year during the past four years, SAP said.

The platform "has evolved beyond traditional generic middleware," and will be tied to SAP's three main technology strategies going forward, which include mobile applications, cloud-based software and in-memory computing, the company said.

SAP intends to integrate NetWeaver with the mobile application platform acquired through the purchase of Sybase. That work will coincide with a NetWeaver-based project code named "Gateway" that will enable SAP data to be accessed from a variety of devices and applications.

In addition, the in-memory computing engine behind a previously announced series of analytic appliances will be plugged into NetWeaver, SAP said.

NetWeaver will also play a role in SAP's cloud platform strategy, providing management and development capabilities.

SAP didn't provide specific release dates for those planned advancements.

Still, Tuesday's announcement was a strong show of support for NetWeaver, which some observers believe has suffered from a lack of development in comparison to competing stacks from Oracle and IBM.

That perception has helped fuel rumors that SAP will at some point purchase a major middleware vendor such as Tibco or Software AG.

"The short answer is not likely," said Altimeter Group analyst Ray Wang via e-mail. For one, such a purchase would be very expensive, he said. Secondly, "there still is a 'not invented here' [attitude] and Waldorf engineering pride to contend with," he added.

As for the 7.3 release, it contains some good improvements "but ultimately, the customers will decide," he said.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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