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SAP Readies New Developer Perks

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SAP on Tuesday will disclose the details of a new licensing model that it hopes will entice at least another 600,000 developers to start building new applications on its NetWeaver platform by the end of next year.

Mark Yolton, vice president of SAP’s Community Network, couldn’t spill all the details of what’s expected to be the most significant announcement to come out of the company’s TechEd ’07 conference in Las Vegas. However, Yolton, in an interview with, said the 6,000-plus developers, customers and suppliers descending on Sin City can expect to hear all about a “new licensing choice for developers to lower the barriers to obtaining a full NetWeaver license.”

“It’s an additional model,” he said. “We’re adding a new choice.”

During last year’s TechEd conference in Amsterdam, the company promised a discounted user license to developers signing up through the SAP Developer Network (SDN). The SDN was created four years ago and now includes more than 900,000 developers and Business Processes Experts (BPX) looking for ways to make SAP’s traditionally rigid (ERP) (define) software flexible enough to meet changing business-process dynamics.

“When SAP first came out, there wasn’t a lot of thought about dynamic processes or dynamic component processes,” said Richard Ptak, principal analyst at Ptak, Noel & Associates. “Now they’re under considerable pressure from competitors like BMC and CA, to some extent, to provide more efficient automation of business processes. They haven’t been particularly open in the past but they’re making changes now because they know their own future depends on their ability to work in these heterogeneous environments.”

Yolton said TechEd attendees will be able to take in more than 1,000 hours of technical discussions and demonstrations, most of which will focus on SAP’s evolving (SOA) (define) strategy incorporating new business process management and automation features to simplify on-the-fly adjustments to customers’ IT environments.

“I think all of software is going through an evolution to become more flexible, agile and adaptable,” Yolton said. “We need to be in the forefront to ensure NetWeaver and our business process platform allows for that ease of use. We’re in a leadership position so we have to be sensitive to market requirements and always be looking far into the future.”

Before SAP embraced business process automation as a core component of its NetWeaver platform, customers that needed to make substantial changes in the way they access, distribute or create business information and processes throughout their organization had to reconfigure the hard-coded, customized software they originally installed rather than simply modify an application or applications within the ERP system to resolve a new business problem.

If a company made a significant change to its business model or, perhaps, had one forced upon it when its biggest customer suddenly required Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) for all invoicing, the time and expense required to revamp the original ERP code to accommodate these new IT requirements brought about more than a few heart-to-heart chats between CEOs and their flummoxed IT departments.

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