SAP to Announce New xApps, Partnerships

SAP signs three new SI partnerships and plans to roll out two new xApps at next week's TechEd developers conference.

With a lot of resources staked on its composite application approach, SAP AG is out to prove the Cross Application, or xApp, validity at its upcoming TechEd developers conference in New Orleans.

The company on Tuesday will announce two new xApps—Visual Information for [manufacturing] Plants, known as VIp, and Product Definition—and announce that three new Systems Integrators have signed on to the xApp bandwagon, including Deloitte Consulting, Cap Gemini, Earnst & Young and BearingPoint Inc.

As part of the agreement, each of the three SIs will come to the table with a solid plan for building their own version of xApps, proposed customers and a commitment for staffing, SAP officials said.

SAPs VIp xApp is geared towards capital-intensive industries where plants are producing products, for which equipment maintenance and performance information required for plant maintenance resides in multiple applications.

VIp is designed to allow users in the maintenance, operations and engineering areas to share information across multiple applications and business processes using one composite application, officials said.

This xApp allows users to steer their plant system and equipment hierarchy through a graphical object navigator, pulling up and drilling down on information that is relevant to their specific task or function.

Paul Kurchina, manager of program management at TransAlta Corp., a power generator in Calgary, Alberta, is in the midst of implementing VIp in one of the companys scrubber plants.

"[We use it as] a single application that pulls together information and events from many different systems," said Kurchina. "Its a two-way pull from [SAPs] R3 [suite of enterprise applications]. You have document information and another system that might be real-time plant information, and the cross app interacts with all these."

Kurchina said that prior to implementing VIp, aggregating information from each plants systems was a struggle because everything was disjointed.

"If you look at any process, its a combination of things working together. Its not just about SAP or documents or [some other] technology. They have to interact in concert with the other to enable you to work that process," said Kurchina. "Our system before was crude. It might have an unfriendly screen in one system and no easy way to tie together information."

The VIp xApp runs on SAPs portal infrastructure and uses the companys Exchange technology for integration to other systems. Both are part of the mySAP Technology platform.

Kurchina said it took him six months to implement VIp, and that most of his time was spent on data conversion. He is looking for additional functionality in the next point release, including the ability to tie in work clearance and the generation of automatic work packages and the ability for the system to be more proactive so users are aware of a problem before it happens.

The Product Definition xApp, known as xPD, streamlines the processes of developing and designing a new product, officials said.

The composite application is designed to work across existing applications that support development, including PLM [product lifecycle management], CRM [customer relationship management], project data, ERP [enterprise resource planning] and SCM [supply chain management].

The xPD application supports the product design and development process by collecting and managing ideas and requirements from the business areas that are involved at each initial stage of development.

The idea is that xPD then helps companies define and evaluate new product concepts, as well as collaboratively design new products.

This story was changed from its original posting to correct the time element.