Observers, as well as SAP, consider the SDK crucial to ByDesign's success. "If we can get this out ... and allow these partners to grow profitably, we are potentially sitting on something really, really fantastic," said Chris Horak, global head of ByDesign marketing.
One industry analyst agreed, albeit with a caveat. "The most important thing right now for any software company is making sure they have a strong developer ecosystem," said Ray Wang, CEO of Constellation Research. However, the tools have to be good, he said. "[The SDK] has got to grab people."
In good news for SAP, "early indications from some of the partners is that it's definitely easier to use than NetWeaver [SAP's main technology stack], but you still need some training and SAP knowledge. For people schooled in SAP, it's a much more productive environment than NetWeaver," Wang said.
SAP first announced ByDesign in 2007, but later scaled back the rollout of the software while it worked to ensure it would be profitable at scale.
Some 250 customers are now using ByDesign, and that number should grow to 1,000 this year, SAP has said. That represents a much less ambitious goal than the original one of 10,000 customers and US$1 billion in revenue by 2010.