In extending the partnership, Dell and SAP are more closely linking the support for Dell systems running SAP, Dell said. If customers have questions, they can contact either company and their respective support staffs can work together to solve the problem. In addition, Dell, through its professional services unit, is offering migration help for those customers looking to migrate their SAP applications off Unix-based systems onto Dell hardware running Linux or Windows. Dell, of Round Rock, Texas, for several years has offered migration services, but not down to the application level, said Paul Gottsegan, vice president of enterprise marketing. Dell has been promoting a scale-out vision of the future data center, where businesses take two- and four-way standards-based systems and link them together, creating a scalable computing environment that can run large back-end applications normally reserved for large SMP units. That vision is playing out, Michael Dell said."The market for eight-way servers and above is in double-digit decline, while the market for four-ways and below is in double-digit increase," Dell said. "Customers are speaking with their wallets."As the industry slowly climbs out of it economic troubles, enterprises will continue looking for cost-effective ways to create flexible and dynamic infrastructures, he said. That is where the combination of Dell and SAP will work, Dell said. About half of SAPs 70,000 implementations are looking to transition from proprietary platforms to standards-based systems, Dell said. He also touched on a recent benchmark that showed two four-way Dell systems outperforming eight-way RISC and Intel Corp.-based systems from Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM. In an interview with eWEEK, Kagermann said the Dell alliance will be important for SAP going forward, given Dells growth in the server market. Customers continue to take advantage of the competency centers, and many are becoming more comfortable with the idea of running back-end applications on clusters of smaller systems. "As the customers start moving onto it, they ask, Is it reliable enough, is it robust enough?" Kagermann said. "And they see that it is." In addition, partnerships with companies like Dell are key to Kagermann being able to follow through on his promise last year to reduce the total cost of ownership of SAP products by 20 percent to 25 percent, he said. While SAP can help reach that goal with NetWeaver on the software side, the company needs alliances on the hardware side. Still, there always are enterprises that will want to keep their applications on larger systems. The key for SAP, he said, is to ensure that it offers choice, enabling customers to run the software on any system. Looking forward, Kagermann said he would like to see expanded use of the Dell/SAP centers. At the same time, he said the two companies could enhance their offerings to the midmarket, possibly by bundling SAP software on Dell servers. Check out eWEEK.coms Server and Networking Center at http://servers.eweek.com for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.