SAP has for quite some time been working on a new integration technology, codenamed Project ‘Gateway.’ They have kept their cards close but SAP TechEd has revealed a few details and one important point has become clear. It is not a replacement for existing integration technologies such as Enterprise Services. Project ‘Gateway’ provides an additional way of exposing SAP data to other platforms and it is specialised for lightweight consumption. Enterprise Services will remain the preferred option for heavier integration. Richard Hirsch has posted an excellent overview of the concepts of lightweight consumption versus heavyweight integration.
The ‘Gateway’ technology attaches to existing SAP systems, even older versions. Developers will then be able to build lightweight front-ends in various web technologies including ASP.NET, PHP and Ruby on Rails as well as targeting mobile platforms such as Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry and iPhone. In developing ‘Gateway,’ SAP has primarily been working with three partners: Microsoft, IBM and RIM. As such, it is the underlying technology of the latest iterations of both Microsoft’s Duet Enterprise and IBM’s Alloy. There is also a new product on its way built for BlackBerry.
From an interoperability perspective, it is potentially a disruptive technology as it opens up unprecedented opportunities for reaching new users with SAP. The idea of a lightweight consumption pattern will be well received by most customers who are looking for more agile ways of delivering business applications. Project ‘Gateway’ is definitely another sign of the changing tide at SAP where third-party platforms are increasingly seen as an opportunity for enlarging the footprint of SAP rather than a threat to their dominance of the technical landscape.