Since last week the brand new NetWeaver 7.3 release left the so called "ramp up" phase and now is available to all SAP customers (and those who want to become such). I will not repeat all the new features, as you can find them on SDN in the SAP NetWeaver 7.3.
But there are a few facts that do not fit in those official and dry announcement messages. First and most important: This is a full SAP NetWeaver release. This means that this is the most complete update since the well known release 7.0 and all of it's enhancement packages.
Who get's the most out of it?
How to measure that? Well, the clear winners to me are all Enterprise Portal installations of over 6000 customers using it out there.
Yes, there have been updates for the portal too on the CE releases, but for many customers this was not satisfying without an upgrade path due to some missing parts. With SAP NetWeaver 7.3 this upgrade path exists and that is like your old car gets booster rockets. Besides the nice new features the whole engine now runs under Java 6 and finally is updated to an environment that bridges five years of development and some renovation of the infrastructure that gives a seldom opportunity: It should run faster after the update even without updating the hardware.
The second biggest issue for me is the end of the double stack. For years customers tried to get around to install the famous double stack, which did not quite achieve what we had planned for it. We had realized it, but the way out of this was not easy, as splitting a double stack is more complicated than installing it. Now this trick has been found and several installations support the split installation and put your system into two. Of course, if you do not want to do this, you may continue to run the old double stack (Seems that some customers got used to it finally and found reason to keep it as is).
Another group taking profit out of this update are those using Business Process Management. The NetWeaver CE 7.3 now makes it possible to run BPM together with the portal (as you can update your portal) and such reduce the needed landscape for BPM applications.
How about ABAP?
The majority of things I just mentioned are Java technology and those of you who can't wait to get your fingers on a new ABAP release have been left out so far. In fact it is a lot easier for us to integrate the latest ABAP stuff into the existing 7.0 environment via Enhancement Packages and so there is not that much new stuff in 7.3. In addition there is not yet a version of SAP Business Suite that runs on top of SAP NetWeaver 7.3 (and no, I'm not entitled to announce any planning dates).
But! To run SAP NetWeaver 7.3 with several parts of the SAP Business Suite, there are Add Ons needed. Most important for this is the status of compatibility (if you cannot wait, just check in Note 1532805 - Add-On Compatibility of SAP NetWeaver 7.3)
This is my very personal view on what is most important in SAP NetWeaver 7.3. If you have not found what you are looking for please refer to the complete feature descriptions linked at the beginning of this blog.