Shai Agassi just finished his keynote address here at SAP TechEd 04 in San Diego.  A few thoughts on the presentation:

Key takeaways - they subtly introduced the idea of 'one repository' - that all your data needs to be in one repository.  Lots of Enterprise Services Architecture fluff and gratuitous comments about openness, but consistent emphasis that you 'can't be flexible unless there is only one underlying platform'.  ESA started as cross-platform service integration strategies, but they are continuing to focus on only SAP as the way to do it.  Their repository, their processes, their composition tools, their services and UIs.

Introduced with 'Back To The Future' theme - looking back 30 years.  He reviewed the last year - but I'm not sure where the '30 years' came into play.  In the last year they released mySAP ERP, SRM, and a 'family' of xApps on NetWeaver 04.  They have 150 xApp customers out of 1200 noted 'reference' customers - significant or not?  Seems like a low number to me considering the focus of NetWeaver on xApps as the solution architecture of the future. 

Shai discussed the '5 key learnings' they have seen from the last year and talking to customers:  Begin passing out the kool-aid...

  1. Flexibility is key for growth
  2. Web services are not enough.  Must have web services, common object repository, composition patterns to create apps
  3. A business process platform emerges that provides Enterprise Services Architecture (SAP implied of course)
  4. A huge eco-system develops around it (they hope)
  5. Few companies can provide these solutions.  (Bug gulp of kool-aid here.)

He discussed how flexible change is important based on the history of shortening lifecycles of

  • process execution (i.e. a sales order used to take weeks and today takes seconds),
  • new product creation - from years to months
  • (Need for) Implementation of new IT systems/processes - from 2+ years to (hopefully) months 

He stated that "If it's not the same platform, there is no ability to go back and forth [in the innovation lifecycle]".  He displayed a slide title 'ESA Roadmap' (Enterprise Services Architecture) and said that everything nEeds to be in 'one repository' - using SAP repository for storing all data.  Peter Zencke repeated this in his portion.  Shai made gratuitous comments that the platform is open - but in my opinion everything else was about only using SAP as the platform.  He also showed a marketecture slide about 'ESA Compliance' that essentially stated that to become ESA compliant (what does that really mean?  there are no standards for ESA compliance...) IT shops have to build application consolidation skills (by using xApps and NetWeaver of course), and build composition skills to create new applications.

They demoed a new Java Virtual Machine 'container' technology that isolates every user process in it's own VM so they can be administered and debugged without impacting other processes.  They pitched this as a 'back to the future' feature they built based on looking back at ABAP process isolation and brining it forward to JVM.  They also had the former exec. of there AVI acquisition (Paul something) demo Master Data Management tools they will be integrating. This was a pathetic demo of very complex UI tools to do data ETL.  I don't think anyone could see or follow what he was doing.  He was toggling between 5-6 different UI's that did not seem to have any usability design applied to them at all.

Peter Zencke came up and lost me in the first 2 minutes.  I've been posting this during most of his talk.  He essentially repeated the themes with some drill down on application architecuture.