SAP Strengthens Supply Chain, Extends to .Net

The company's announcements at CeBIT include an upgraded MySAP SCM suite with collaboration tools, an adaptive computing project on Microsoft's .Net platform and upgraded IT management tools.

At the annual, and huge, CeBIT trade show for information and telecommunications technology held in Hannover, Germany, the week of March 6, SAP announced a slew of upgraded technologies.

SAP, based in Walldorf, Germany, announced on March 8 an upgraded supply chain management suite that builds in more functionality for collaboration with partners and adds process support geared toward specific vertical industries.

The company also extended adaptive computing capabilities—functionality that lets users run services on shared computing resources—to Microsofts .Net platform, and announced upgraded support tools to help users better manage their SAP environments.

The latest edition of MySAP Supply Chain Management hones in on three functional areas: service parts management, collaboration with partners and analytics capabilities.

The overall goal of this latest version is to strengthen users demand-driven fulfillment networks and better integrate a companys service supply chain with its product supply chain, according to Hans Thalbauer, vice president of Application and Solution Management for Supply Chain Management at SAP.

"Overall [there is] an extension of SCM core processes," Thalbauer said. "It is really necessary to have more visibility into the supply network, so [users] can proactively see whats going on—is the supplier running into problems, is an event coming or is everything running as planned? We know that in thousands of cases daily there are some issues, and to have more collaboration" can help solve those issues, he said.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read about SAPs plans to blend ERP (enterprise resource planning) and on-demand CRM (customer relationship management) software.

To this end SAP has extended its supply chain collaboration functionality, adding new forecasting and replenishment functionality to handle long lead time replenishment, seasonal product and new product introduction.

It has also added new supplier management processes to help "get suppliers closer to manufacturers and original equipment manufacturers," through a collaboration network, according to Thalbauer. "Really, the whole information flow is considered here," he said.

SAP has also added new master data to support processes for the apparel footwear industry, where master data around color, style and type are more the focus than a single item, according to Thalbauer. Some of those processes have been extended for retail in the forecasting area.

In terms of analytics for the supply chain, SAP is leveraging existing components around advanced planning optimization, warehouse management, forecasting and replenishment and event management to help manufacturers and suppliers have the "correct picture of the right area, at the right time," Thalbauer said.

Separately, SAPs extension of its adaptive computing capabilities to Microsofts .Net platform lets users run multiple instances of software or databases on the same server through virtualization, officials said. Its also the first joint development project beyond Mendocino, due in 2006, which will expose SAP business processes in Microsoft Office.

/zimages/2/28571.gifRead more here about SAPs collaboration with Microsoft.

"There is a large universe of customers who use both Microsoft .Net and SAP NetWeaver," Ori Inbar, senior vice president of Solution Marketing for SAP NetWeaver at SAP, said in a statement. "It was crucial that both companies work together to enhance flexibility and make system management easier."

The adaptive computing capability extends the virtualization capabilities to newer products from SAP and its ISV partners, officials said.

Finally, the latest version of the SAP Solution Manager brings a new interface to integrate third-party help desk offerings with Java-based remote diagnostic capabilities, officials said. A few new features include project documentation, task assignments, a central overview of current issues for better project management, and a diagnostic capability to analyze and monitor a system landscape based on NetWeaver as well as Java components and outside applications.

The Solution Manager upgrade is free to users and will be available by the end of March.

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