SAP: 'customizing is out, extending is in'

SAP is ready for SOA. Is SOA ready for SAP?

SAP says that 'customizing is out, extending is in.'

Sounds good. Now what the heck does that mean?

SAP is ready for SOA. Is SOA ready for SAP?

That's the word out of this week's SAP Influencer Summit, reported by fellow ZDNet blogger Michael Krigsman.

Michael explains that 'extending -- not customizing' is the mantra of SAP's drive to SOA. Michael quotes SAP's Peter Zenke, who explained that the ERP giant intends to make widespread use of a “'composition layer' that gives access to SAP’s SOA services," and "has become the approved way for adapting SAP software to meet specific requirements, such as those posed by 'micro-verticals.'"

Michael is kind enough to provide this translation of SAP's marketspeak: "SAP now provides a foundation, on top of which third-parties (customers and partners) can write new applications and which prevents the core SAP code from being changed. This approach ensures a clean, future upgrade path without the downstream costs traditionally associated with custom code."

However, not everyone is enamored by SAP's new SOA religion, Michael points out. Judith Hurwitz, for one, says SAP's grand SOA vision actually assigns too much power to a single vendor. (Michael points to Judith's blog on the matter here.) "The reality is many customers have complicated, multi-vendor environments that include many parts. Unless you make the SAP world your context it won't work."

SAP knows that ERP is coming to the masses -- via open source and as componentized services that can be delivered from any source or vendor. (Plus there's SMB-friendly offerings such as Microsoft Dynamics.) It's interesting to see SAP angling to join in on the emerging commoditized ERP space -- versus being chased upstream after ever-shrinking high-margin opportunities.