Mendocino 1.0, expected in July of next year, will hone in on four scenarios—budget monitoring, time management, leave management, and organizational management—that expose process logic and workflow from mySAP applications to Office. That means users can, for example, use the cost center management scenario to access employee files, see pay information and issue pay raises, using SAP workflow that is exposed in Office.
Version 1.0 will ship this month to 40 customers and 10 partners for an aggressive ramp-up program. An additional 50 customers will be added in April.
The joint development teams from Microsoft and SAP will look to those users to help define new joint scenarios and delineate a development platform for version 2.0.
Expected on the market about a year after the release of Version 1.0—so around July, 2007—2.0 will continue to add scenarios around time management and employee self service. But it will also look to add a line of business scenarios, like CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and SRM (Supplier Relationship Management).
"You can imagine contract management, which today is managed in SRM systems," said Kevin Fliess, vice president of solution management for emerging solutions at SAP. "So the processes require structured and unstructured information like forms or Word documents with business process logic from SAP…we could imagine doing that through Office, but having the backend systems process logic come from SAP."
"The documents that are routed through Office could be a Word-based document, but with live links back to a customer name in SAP," said Chris Caren, general manager, Office Business Applications at Microsoft, in Redmond, Wash. "The other line of business is CRM, so every sales person in the world would love to have CRM available in Outlook—their customer information, contracts, price lists."
Likewise, the joint development team is looking to the initial Mendocino customers to help define the scope of Mendocino Server, the underlying development platform for Mendocino.
The server leverages intellectual property from both Microsoft and SAP, with back-end links into SAPs Enterprise Services Architecture. On the Microsoft side, the server plugs into Exchange Server to handle the synchronization of data into Outlook, which then communicates up to a client add-in that talks to Office and publishes information in Excel or Outlook. The server also handles workflow logic when users are offline.
Development tools, sussed out in Version 2.0, will enable users to actually modify the processes and logic of the Mendocino server, as well as customize and create new scenarios.
"With the development tools customers that want to take a [scenario] weve written, say time management, and adopt it, or maybe create connections into other systems, or link into the process, can use the development tools to extend or customize processes—or develop new ones," said Microsofts Caren.
The Mendocino development team, however, has not yet determined which development environment it will utilize, given that Microsoft and SAP both have offerings. The tools will either be built for Microsofts Visual Basic environment, SAPs Visual Composer environment, or a combination of both that leverages integrated messaging and development environments.
"We have not decided the final strategy, because its the Mendocino Server and has technologies from both companies," said Caren. "Thats coming out in Mendocino 2.0, which comes out a year after 1.0, and were still working with customers to figure out what theyd like to see."
A year prior to Mendocino, both Microsoft and SAP began working together to ensure interoperability between their integration platforms, SAPs NetWeaver, and Microsofts .Net.