The announcement that SAP AG and Microsoft Corp. will simplify the interoperability between their respective NetWeaver and .Net Web services development platforms will make it easier for SAP customers to deploy enterprise applications in the Windows environment.
To achieve this, SAP will issue a NetWeaver upgrade in 2005 that will enable SAP applications to integrate with Microsofts Biztalk Servers. SAP also will provide sample code allowing developers to integrate SAP applications with Microsoft Office and with applications built with Visual Studio 2005.
For its part, Microsoft has agreed provide in 2005 the repository managers that will link SAP NetWeaver Knowledge Management to Windows SharePoint Services and Microsoft Exchange Server.
SAP also will provide a portal development kit to allow .NET developers to create custom applications that can work with the SAP portal platform.
SAP also has agreed to support Microsoft Visual Studio .NET so that developers can work within the Visual Studio Integrated Development Environment to build Windows front ends to SAP applications. Version 2.0 of SAPs .Net Connector, due for release in August, will include improved Visual Basic Language support.
Its not as though SAP has had any trouble migrating into organizations where Windows prevails. More than 40,000 SAP installations already run on Windows, and two-thirds of new SAP deployments are based on the Microsoft platform.
But greater integration between NetWeaver and .NET should streamline the development process. This should prove to be a particular benefit to organizations that are running mySAP Business Suite on Windows.
But it will be of the greatest benefit to Microsoft independent software vendors, who will find it easier to build applications that work with SAP applications.
Development and technology alliances such as these are never done for altruistic reasons. This partnership brings competitive risks along with benefits for both companies.
For SAP, the risk is that the closer integration will enable Windows ISVs to chip away at application functionality that might otherwise have been provided by SAP applications.