SOA/SaaS: SAP offers up A1S as On-Demand Platform
In the true spirit of SAP R/3-like product naming conventions, SAP has introduced the A1S on-demand platform. [What does SAP stand for? — Systeme, Anwendungen, Produkte (Systems, Applications, Products).] But then Amazon’s names for EC2 and S3 services in the cloud may be equally nerdy.A1S is a hosted on-demand platform built on top of SAP’s NetWeaver that is targeting midsize companies that don’t want to ramp up on IT infrastructure. SAP’s ERP business was booming in the 90’s, and by many measures is still doing well, but over the years competition, new technologies, and high SAP costs have chipped away from the SAP mindshare.Dressed in black at the recent Software 2007 conference, SAP chairman Hasso Plattner outlined a catch-up plan for SAP’s future that models the successes of Google and Salesforce.com.Plattner praised the speed of Google’s data search and uncluttered minimalist design. He said that Salesforce.com has proven that the SaaS model does work and that SaaS will become ever more compelling as bandwidth, processing and storage technologies continue to evolve.Plattner admitted that SAP had been out of step with technology changes and that, due to internal politics at SAP, they weren’t quick to come to the decision that SAP must evolve with new technologies to maintain their position. Plattner said that it took SAP as much as two years to finally come to the conclusion that their model must change.A1S is the new platform that SAP has brewed to address the change. It’s been three years in the making and is staffed by 3000 engineers. Similar to Salesforce’s Apex, SAP sees A1S as an on-demand hosted and open platform. The system will be based on service oriented architecture.One thing this announcement makes clear is that the momentum towards the Salesforce model is in full swing. But the complete SAP picture is not complete. This move targets midsized companies — it doesn’t make it any easier for SAP’s large-company clients in helping them to decide what to do next with their huge investments in customized legacy SAP software.