Microsoft, SAP Ramp Up, Rename Mendocino

The companies' joint development project-which now boasts double the functionality-has a new name: Duet.

The courtship between Microsoft and SAP is growing more amorous by the day. The two companies announced May 2 that they will offer almost double the functionality initially outlined for Mendocino 1.0—before the joint development project even hits the streets. The companies also detailed their road map for the remainder of this year and announced a new commercial name for Mendocino.

Project Mendocino, which looks to integrate mySAP ERP (enterprise resource planning) business logic and processes with Microsoft Office, is now officially named Duet.

The way the two companies are going about SAP process integration to Office is by defining specific departmental "scenarios"—approving a purchase order, for example—and lines of business scenarios, like sales force automation in CRM (customer relationship management).

Mendocino 1.0, initially slated for a July delivery, will home in on four scenarios: budget monitoring, time management, leave management and organizational management. Doubling up their development efforts, Microsoft and SAP announced May 2 five additional scenarios, available in two so-called value packs.

The value packs, expected in the second half of 2006, will expose the additional scenarios culled from mySAP ERP, CRM and SRM (supplier relationship management). The scenarios include recruitment management, travel management, analytics, purchasing management and sales activity management.

Like Microsofts next-generation ERP development, dubbed Dynamics, which is due in waves, the value packs for Duet will come in waves as well. The first wave is around recruitment management, travel management and analytics. The second wave takes a look at line-of-business processes, with a stab at CRM. This wave also adds some platform upgrades around administration, availability and performance.

The question is, with the initial product not even on the market, why the redoubling of development efforts?

"The goal all along was to turn on as many scenarios as possible, so there was always a plan to deliver," said Chris Caren, general manager of Office Business Applications Group at Microsoft, in Redmond, Wash. "And the [development] methodology both companies used is a lot more similar than expected. Culturally both teams worked together out of the gate better than expected."

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read more about Mendocino.

The other factor that has impacted development efforts, according to Caren, is that a lot of the heavy lifting was getting basic connectivity between mySAP and Microsoft enabled. "Once we enable the plumbing, we can turn on additional scenarios pretty easily," said Caren. "Its the same with line of business. The only difference is we may want to get more advanced functionality into Office, so theres more advanced analytics. We can enable line of business with little or no platform work."

The beta version of 1.0 was shipped earlier this year to nearly 100 customers and 10 partners, for a fairly aggressive ramp-up program. Microsoft and SAP are looking to those early users to help define Duet 2.0, expected around July 2007, and to help define the parameters for Mendocino Server (now Duet Server, one would assume) and its associated development tools.

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.

Duet development tools, part of 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.

The interesting variable with the server is its not clear yet which development environment will be utilized. Microsofts Caren said it will either be Microsofts Visual Basic, SAPs Visual Composer or a combination of both that leverages integrated messaging and development environments.

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