How does SAP turn 250 million lines of code into modular services?

April 30, 2007

How does SAP turn 250 million lines of code into modular services?

I didn’t attend the SAP Sapphire conference this year. I simply had too much going on so I gave myself a pass. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t paying attention. I am thinking about the fact that SAP’s application environment has more than 250 million lines of code. I would guess that this is probably the biggest application suite on the face of the planet. If I am wrong, let me know. In that context, I was thinking about what does it mean to position the company for a Service Oriented Architecture. In fact, can you credibly claim to be service oriented with that much code in one environment? Now, I suspect that if I were having this discussion with the software gurus at SAP they would claim that they have restructured that code to create a modular architecture. Now I wouldn’t dispute the possibility that a lot has happened since the company first brought R/3 to market as a client/server application environment. But I am wondering how far they have been able to take this. I would suggest that even under the best of circumstances that it would super human effort to turn 250 million lines of code into a set of business service modules. I have one other question for SAP software architectural gurus…how do you turn NetWeaver into an open middleware platform independent of 250 million lines of application code?

And then I thought about Oracle’s approac to business process management.
So, what about Oracle? Are they really very different from its arch rival SAP? I would say yes and no. No, in that if you add up all of the code from all of the packaged applications it has purchased over the past five or six years, it would probably have as many lines of code. The difference might well be that Oracle ends up with a series of applications that are integrated in name only. They are stuck with customers who simply have no interest in oracle’s grand vision for a single applications environment. They just want to continue using the JD Edwards or Siebel application that they have come to depend on and that has been customized for their requirements. The typical customer has no interest in retraining hundreds of employees on something new. So, I thought that Oracle was very pragmatic in coming out with a set of process templates that can create business process orchestrations leveraging existing applications as they are. It will be interesting to watch how this works and the impact on Oracle’s elaborate Fusion middleware strategy.


About Judith Hurwitz

Judith Hurwitz is an author, speaker and business technology consultant with decades of experience.

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