SAP community portal launch date still unclear due to bugs

A number of "showstopper" technical issues remain

Serious technical problems that have delayed the rollout of an upgrade to SAP's community portal are persisting, to the point where the company is no longer specifying a launch date.

In December, SAP announced that the launch of the new SAP Community Network, originally planned for that month, would be pushed forward to early this year due to various technical problems.

"Since then, while all of us have been working on the new platform, I've been publicly quiet on the launch topic, since the news changed daily as progress was made on one front, and new issues were uncovered on other fronts, and I didn't want to set a new date or new expectations and not be fully confident of living up to them," said Mark Yolton, senior vice president of SAP communities and social media, in a blog post late Friday. "I think it's time now to provide you an update and to explain what you can expect, and when."

"In these past two months we have resolved countless bugs, improved system performance, smoothed the user experience, and we are confident that the platform is just about ready to launch," he added.

However, "there still remain eight blocker or showstopper items that don't meet our standards and without fixes we won't launch, and another 18 critically important items we'd really, really like to see addressed before we 'flip the switch,'" Yolton wrote.

"Without full confidence I won't set a launch date (learned that lesson already)," he added. "But look for signs in the coming days as we cross the big items off our list and hone-in on a solid date to go-live."

A beta program for the site has gone on since December, with several hundred people participating, according to Yolton.

Some 116 "blocker/showstopper and critically important items have been resolved," as have another 163 "high-priority items," 201 "medium-priority items" and 11 "low-priority items," he wrote.

SAP also has an extensive road map of further improvements laid out for after the site goes live, he added. "The launch is simply a 'new beginning' from which we continuously improve, evolve, and build."

The decision to hold off on the site launch until every last bug is believed fixed may be a wise one, considering the experience of vendors like Oracle. That company's 2009 overhaul of its customer-support portal was wracked by performance problems and sparked considerable user outcry.

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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