SAP, PeopleSoft Diverge at Fork in Software Road

The resource planning developers differ widely in their approaches to business automation, particularly depending on an enterprise's attitude toward IT.

HANNOVER, Germany—The industrys two largest enterprise resource planning developers, SAP AG and PeopleSoft Inc., are offering corporations decidedly different paths to business automation.

The choice between PeopleSofts EnterpriseOne 8.10 and SAPs NetWeaver 2004, both of which were introduced at the CeBIT trade show here last week, hinges in large part on an enterprises philosophy toward IT.

For example, EnterpriseOne 8.10 lets a company automate business processes more or less around the practices baked into the packaged suite. But to get the full value of SAPs NetWeaver 2004, a customer will need an extra development effort to create a customized software stack for its business practices.

EnterpriseOne 8.10, due in May, provides stronger ties between customer demand and manufacturing execution, according to PeopleSoft officials. The suite, which the Pleasanton, Calif., company acquired when it bought J.D. Edwards & Co. last year, completes JDEs vision of "demand-driven manufacturing" with new forecasting capabilities to improve demand scheduling execution and new collaborative capabilities, officials said.

The buyer workspace and the supplier self-service portal in EnterpriseOne 8.10 are designed to allow manufacturers to share more data with their customers.

Unlike EnterpriseOne, NetWeaver is not an application suite but a collection of SAP infrastructure offerings designed to complement its MySAP and R/3 enterprise application suites by providing a service-oriented architecture through which processes in the various applications can be linked. The core of NetWeaver is the Exchange Infrastructure for integration and a Web application server that combines SAPs proprietary ABAP language and Java.

The update, due March 31, fully integrates those and a broad range of other components, including portal, data management, business intelligence and composite application development capabilities. In addition, NetWeaver 2004 adds workflow models that let business users visually model and execute business processes, said SAP of Walldorf, Germany.

"About 85 to 90 percent of the IT spending in most companies today is tied up in legacy applications, which means that only 10 percent [of IT spending] actually goes toward innovation to actually do work differently," said Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP America Inc.

"With our application suite and NetWeaver, we not only focus on what companies should do, but we first eliminate what they shouldnt do anymore, and we free up that cash flow that they used to spend on legacy into innovation and transformation of the business processes."

Manufacturer Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp., is installing MySAP applications and in the process replacing about 300 legacy systems. Lawrence Volz, program director of business applications and IT, said he is interested in NetWeavers integration capabilities but will continue to use SeeBeyond Technology Corp. middleware for integration for at least the next year or two. NetWeaver would enable Volzs team to move away from ABAP and use Java instead, which could save money, he said.

Volz said he believes SAP is moving in the right direction overall with its integration strategy. "At first, I scratched my head" when SAP announced NetWeaver, Volz said by phone from Windsor, Conn. "But as an end-to-end [offering] thats fully integrated, NetWeaver makes a lot of sense to us."

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