SAP Buys A2is Technology for Master Data Management

The company will use A2i's xCat technology in an upgrade to NetWeaver 2004, enabling product content management, data aggregation and harmonization, and better Web-based catalogs.

To bolster its NetWeaver integration platform, SAP AG on Tuesday announced its "majority asset" acquisition of A2i Inc., which includes the development rights to the companys xCat System suite of products. The terms of the deal were undisclosed.

An MDM (master data management) software developer, A2i will add to SAPs existing MDM capabilities.

Available this fall as an update to the 2004 version of NetWeaver, SAP Master Data Management will incorporate A2is xCat technology to enable product content management, data aggregation and harmonization, plus better Web-based electronic catalogs for both sell-side and procurement deployments, officials said.

Using A2is xCat technology, SAP also plans to add new functionality to its MDM module, including high-performance search capabilities as well as intelligent image and document management and print catalog publishing capabilities.

Walldorf, Germany-based SAP also plans to add an integrated global data synchronization capability geared toward the retail and consumer product verticals.

The acquisition of A2i is part of SAPs strategy to acquire technology when necessary to round out its stable of offerings that includes NetWeaver—the companys biggest development effort ever.

"We are not looking for huge acquisition targets, nor do we want to buy market share or customers," Henning Kagermann, SAPs chairman and CEO, said in a statement. "Rather, we will seek to acquire and integrate those complementary technologies that we do not yet have or cannot develop at a comparable cost or speed ourselves."

SAP already has an MDM capability. It utilizes components from SAPs Exchange Infrastructure, Business Intelligence, Knowledge Management and Enterprise Portal to essentially derive a common view of reference data—definitions of customers, suppliers, products and parts—and synchronizes that data.

MDM works by integrating both the data and the applications that support business processes. In the mix are analytical and search capabilities that enable users to identify identical or similar data objects across systems. At the same time, the software cleanses objects to keep the master data consistent. MDM adapters receive data from third-party systems and unify that data into a common format.

/zimages/2/28571.gifRead more here about SAPs MDM module.

For connectivity and communication with other systems, MDM acts as a hub of sorts. It logically groups related objects and distributes them concurrently into systems designated by the user. An automated publish-and-subscribe feature pushes information to the correct destination.

The upgraded MDM software aims to eliminate data duplication by providing a means for centralized customer, supplier or product information available to applications, officials said.

Los Angeles-based A2i focuses on a number of vertical markets, including industrial goods, manufacturing, automotive, medical and retail.

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