Checking out Netweaver Cloud

Just recently I have been taking a look at SAP’s Netweaver Cloud offering.

SAP is not exactly known as a great technology vendor. Neither as great vendor of technology nor as a vendor of great technology. As I have worked for SAP and I have been using SAP software and as we (ZFabrik) thought more than once about creating software in the SAP space, I was curious as to how “meaningful” NW Cloud looks from my perspective, that is, from the outside of SAP and to somebody not working in an SAP account.

Getting started is really easy. Once you have an SDN account, you enter the SAP HANA Cloud Cockpit (don’t be fooled by that. It’s all called HANA regardless of whether you get in touch with anything HANA or whether you would even have any clue what HANA could possibly be. Don’t worry. Ignore it. It’s simply the latest and they couldn’t help it).

Technically, what you get in the trial is a Suse Linux VM that runs some LJS server, which presents itself very much like an Apache Tomcat Web Application Server of some 7.x version (7.0.35 in my case). Note also the PS below. In my case the OS had 2 GB of memory, the JVM had a 1GB heap with 256M perm space (which I believe cannot be changed).

In order to deploy some simple Web app, you only need to install some rather harmless looking Eclipse plugins (of course – you get some more than you would ask for, but at least you do not get something like Netweaver Developer Studio) and the NW Cloud SDK. After installation and getting over with some config as explained in the guide, you can control the VM and deployment of your apps from there.

All in all: It’s a glorified Tomcat on in a hosted Linux VM. All data administration, VM configuration, etc… it all looks rather hard coded. Add that you can only deploy a web applications and it all does not look too impressive.

So what’s the business model? Why would somebody like me be tempted to consider NW Cloud for anything? Where is the market?

It’s all along the same lines why RIM (the Blackberry maker) was so successful in the beginning: Corporate IT departments would not be willing to accept the (perceived) risk of allowing access to MS Exchange from outside of the company network. RIM took that responsibility from them. Now SAP departments are not any more adventurous. Providing access to internal SAP systems? No way! NW Cloud comes with a Connectivity Service that promises to do exactly that: Provide access to internal SAP systems (via some VPN channel or so) to applications running on NW Cloud that itself are directly accessible from the internet. A simplified development and production setup hence looks like this:

nwcloudThat does actually make sense and may give rise to some interesting opportunities for software development for SAP accounts.

Happy Easter!

Ps.:In fact, it seems that the Web Container instance used in NW Cloud is actually based on Eclipse Virgo (formerly known as Spring dm Server). So it is actually not Apache Tomcat. Similar. But not quite the same in terms of naming integration and other low-level aspects.