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This section of contains pieces Jon Reed specifically wrote for CIOs, including for ERPtips. If you're interested in more content Jon publishes for SAP leaders, Jon is now the Editor in Chief for The ERP Executive - Panaya's Magazine for SAP Managers. See Jon's ERP Executive articles here. You can subscribe to ERP Executive content and check out the original content Jon and his team create each month for SAP managers.
Say What? A Guide to the SAP Terms You Need to Know for ASUG 2008 and Beyond Print E-mail
Article Index
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Terms You Should be Careful With

Now that we've covered the hippest SAP terms, we move into trickier territory. This section contains SAP terms you can still use, as long as you are careful about the context. Used properly, folks will know that you are aware of the latest terms, but that you choose to use a different term for accuracy's sake (perhaps because your particular SAP environment is still running these products).

So, here's some terms we can use, but should still be careful with:

Web Application Server - I can't think of a reason offhand why you would need to use this term unless you are deep into the technology, but there are some flavors of NetWeaver that still run on the Web Application Server. Technical team members can certainly use this term for clarity on support and installation issues. One additional reason that SAP has shifted the term Web Application Server to NetWeaver Application Server? Web Application Server was often abbreviated as "WAS," the same abbreviation as IBM's WebSphere Application Server - a situation that caused confusion. Rumor has it that IBM, one of SAP's most important partners, was not too thrilled about SAP's use of WAS either. Change term - problem solved.

BW (or Business Warehouse) -  Many SAP shops are still running on a flavor of BW that is actually still called BW. If you're running BW 3.5 or under, you are still definitively on BW, not BI so you can still use the classic "BW" reference. We don't get into the usage of the "BI" term until NetWeaver BI 7.0. Why did SAP change terms? Because they didn't want their product to sound like it was operated by a geek squad out of a warehouse, they wanted to make it sound like the robust business intelligence platform that it truly and finally is. In addition, the industry buzz has shifted away from "data warehousing" and onto the trend of "business intelligence." BW-to-BI allows SAP to capitalize on that branding momentum.

Basis - Basis is a tricky one because we aren't sure if SAP is going to create a new term for "NetWeaver System Admin" or just stick with Basis, as in "NetWeaver Basis." I have seen the phrase "NetWeaver Basis" on some job descriptions, but I haven't seen it used by SAP itself. This one is too early to call, but my bet is on SAP phasing out the Basis term because it is so closely tied to the R/3 systems architecture that is being supplanted by NetWeaver. Of course, many customers are still on older versions of R/3 (typically 4.7 or lower) that are not NetWeaver-driven. These folks can still be using the Basis term freely. But once we get into NetWeaver environments, tossing the term "Basis" around might make you seem a little, well, "old school."  You might not get invited to run your company's "Where is SAP headed next"? presentation if you use the term "Basis" too freely. I never liked the term myself, as it has too many connotations from other accounting contexts, so I won't mind seeing it go.

ABAP - Actually, ABAP may be the one term from the R/3 world that remains alive and well. SAP backed off of ABAP a few years ago and pushed its Java-friendliness, but its customer base, heavily invested in ABAP customizations, was not too thrilled with that approach. These days, ABAP may not get much marketing attention from SAP, but ABAP is still very much a part of SAP's "development platform of the future." True, SAP's next-generation Composition Environment (CE), is exclusively Java-based, but there are many important development tools that are ABAP-based (Web Dynpro for ABAP for one) and many NetWeaver-based processes that are driven at least partially by ABAP code. ABAP is here to stay, but if we use the term too much, it gives the impression that we're not clued into the eSOA-based approach.

The eSOA shift is about not being tied to any one development language, even one as trusty as ABAP. The eSOA vision is really about allowing companies to use the development tools of their choice, or in many cases, using modeling tools to integrate business processes into the technical layer with less hands-on coding than ever before. To be extra cool. when you talk about ABAP, if you can work in some mentions of "Object-Oriented ABAP," or "ABAP Objects," then you will give off the vibe that you understand the overriding importance of re-usable programming techniques in the eSOA era. Just remember, if you use this term, don't pronounce it "Ayyy Bop." Not unless you want to get into a "Tomato/Tomahto" argument with some SAP know-it-all like me.

Terms You Probably Shouldn't be Using

mySAP - Before "NetWeaver" came along, "mySAP" seemed like the term SAP had staked its future on. But now, SAP is dramatically phasing out the "mySAP" term. It is getting harder and harder to find the term "mySAP" anywhere in SAP's solutions literature, which is a bit of a shock given that not long ago, "mySAP" went in front of all of SAP's new ERP releases, as well as before its "Business Suite" products. For a few years after Y2K, SAP plastered the term "mySAP" in front of everything as a way of making clear that SAP was now in tune with Internet trends. But the personalization of the web has gone beyond the "my" prefix into the Web 2.0 arena of blogging and podcasting and trackbacks, and the mySAP term now comes off as dated. I suspect that's why SAP is phasing it out. "mySAP" served a purpose, but you can only brand a few terms in a big time way, and SAP is largely focused on branding ERP 6.0, eSOA, and NetWeaver now. "mySAP" seems like a terminology bandwidth casualty. Think of it as an honorable discharge, and consider discarding it from your SAP vocabulary also.

mySAP ERP 2005 - This term has all kinds of problems with it. Beyond the fading "mySAP" aspect, SAP is trying to drop the year numbers from all it's products. It's all about ERP 6.0 now.

ECC 5.0  - ECC 5.0 was the "Enterprise Core Component" of the mySAP ERP 2004 release, another mouthful for the terminology scrap heap, now superseded by the ERP 6.0 release. The only reason to use "ECC 5.0" would be if you were trying to complete an "SAP Crossword Puzzle," or if you were referring specifically to the ECC 5.0 environment or working for a company that is currently running on ECC 5.0. There are more than a few companies are running on ECC 5.0 now, though their numbers are rapidly being eclipsed by those that are either running on, or are moving to, ERP 6.0, which has the ECC 6.0 core. 

XI - Pretty much the same deal here as with the ECC 5.0 term. "XI" had a limited shelf life and pretty much only applies when referring to those live SAP customers still running on XI. Otherwise, it's "all PI, all the time."

Service Management - This term can still be used, as long as it's not confused with the newer "CRM Service" or "SAM" (Strategic Asset Management) terms. Many SAP users are still running on the Service Management (SM) product; others partake in the CRM-based version of this product (CRM Service). SAM is an unrelated term but it's just one "A" away from an identify conflict, and I ran into someone who confused the two just last week.

Please Stand at the Back of the Room (If You Use These Outdated Terms)

Usage of these terms may cost you the select seats on the ASUG conference bus. It's wise to retire them unless you have been asked to write a history of SAP.

New Dimensions - I still hear people use this outdated term from time to time. I was never fond of it; I've joked in the past that it sounded more like a New Age cult than a cutting edge product. It's hard to believe that SAP once poured millions into the usage of this term on a broad scale. New Dimensions used to be the term used to describe the immature products that have now become the robust "SAP Business Suite" product line. It's a funny term to drop when you want to remind people of how wacky SAP can be, but I'd save it for those purposes only.

Business Information Warehouse - The Business Information Warehouse, or BIW term, went out of fashion years ago, as SAP made the first of several shifts in the product that pushed it away from affiliation with tech tools and towards a business intelligence platform. The BIW term harks back to a time when the data warehousing market was in its heyday. At that time, SAP was actively seeking credibility from the leaders of the data warehousing movement, such as the father of data warehousing, Bill Inmon, who was one of many who was initially critical of SAP's fledgling BIW product, perceiving it as an affront to the sophistication of true data warehousing. But the last I heard of Inmon, he had worked some stumping for NetWeaver BI into his schedule, so that shows you how much times change, and how well SAP evolves its products.


I hope that the tongue-in-cheek tone of this article did not take anyone back to unwanted memories of high school when people were considered cool or uncool based on what came out of their mouths. At the same time, I also hope that the tone of this piece did not take away from the importance of staying on top of SAP's terminology. I have seen many SAP professionals capitalize on their knowledge of SAP trends. I would go so far as to say that all the exceptional SAP professionals I know make it a point to stay on top of the SAP product line and the terms SAP employs.

Some of these terminology decisions can seem random, but I hope I've shown that despite some missteps, there is a method to SAP's terminology madness. I wish all SAPtips readers the best of luck at the spring conferences, and I hope to see you there. I'll be the one with the little notepad, scribbling down the terms I will use in the next update to this article.

Site Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in a modified version in the April/May 2008 edition of SAPtips. SAPtips is a subscription-based publication, but you can obtain a free sample issue from the SAPtips web site, as well as information on all previously published articles.    

SAPtips Bio: Jon Reed, Jon Reed is an independent SAP analyst who writes on SAP consulting trends. He is the President of, an interactive Web site which features Jon’s SAP Career Blog and his podcasts for SAP professionals. Jon has been publishing SAP career and market analysis for more than a decade, and he serves as the career expert for's "Ask the Expert" panel. From 2003 to 2006, Jon was the Managing Editor of SAPtips.

Jon Reed was recently named an SAP Mentor. The SAP Mentor Initiative is a highly selective program which recognizes those individuals who are making an outstanding contribution to the SAP community. Jon is one of 70 mentors who are playing an active role in SAP's online ecosystem, which includes the combined 1.3 million members of the SDN and BPX web sites.


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