Wolfgang Hilpert and Thomas Vollmering on NetWeaver BPM #sapphire09

I started to get paranoid yesterday when my meeting with Wolfgang Hilpert and Thomas Vollmering was scheduled at the same time as Ginger Gatling’s session on NetWeaver BPM, then they didn’t show for the meeting – was there something they didn’t want me to know? However, it was just a scheduling glitch, and eventually we met up so that they could brief me on the current release and what’s coming later this year.

When I last had an in-depth look at the product late last year, it was in late beta; since then, it’s been through the SAP ramp-up (early ship) process, and was released for unrestricted shipment on Monday. I’ll be finishing up my review of the current release in an upcoming post, and as soon as Thomas forwards on the material that he promised to send (hint, hint), I’ll be able to post a bit more on the future directions.

The newly released version is still lacking a lot of expected BPMS functionality, but has focused on the features that SAP’s customers said that they needed the most: human-centric BPM (since there are existing products in the SAP suite that cover lower-level orchestration) and a integrated composition environment that can eventually be used for process composition across all layers: human-facing tasks, web services, and core ERP processes. Due to their Yasu acquisition, they also did direct integration between the BPM and BRM environments, although there were some rough edges there and in some of the other areas, such as handling the user interface at process steps.

In spite of the shortcomings of the first release, SAP’s vision for BPM is far-reaching, especially around the integration of events and analytics. They are taking advantage of the innovation that’s happening within the BusinessObjects group, and there’s a potential for them to create a powerful platform not just for managing processes, but for handling events, including the results of analytics at a human-facing step as a decision-support tool, and for analyzing and optimizing processes.

2 thoughts on “Wolfgang Hilpert and Thomas Vollmering on NetWeaver BPM #sapphire09”

  1. I am torn about these ERP-specific BPM options – on the one hand, SAP and Oracle are in a fantastic position to really provide useful BPM technology on top of their stack… but on the other hand, it is destined to be “stuck” on their platform, rather than being applicable to other platforms or independent processes.

    What I’d really like to see them do is to EXPOSE the information they have about their processes in a consumable way (Wf-XML perhaps?) so that not only can their own bpm tools make use of SAP/Oracle, but others’ BPM tooling can further leverage those into higher-level or external processes.

  2. They do expose a lot of information: since 6.0 (I think), the core SAP ERP system has exposed much of their functionality through web services. As they build out their NetWeaver BPM functionality, they’ll be tying that closer to BPM processes (that’s part of what I saw in the discussion with Wolfgang and Thomas) so that actions in the ERP become just like services to be included in an orchestration.

    The key thing to keep in mind about SAP and their development of NetWeaver BPM is that although it looks and feels much like a pure-play BPMS, they are not trying to be the best BPMS on the market: their goal is to be the best BPMS for existing SAP customers.

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