NEW ORLEANS—At its Sapphire user conference here this week, SAP AG made a slew of announcements, primary among them a development relationship with Microsoft Corp., adaptive computing capabilities for NetWeaver and new packaged applications for the midmarket.
Building on an established 11-year relationship, the newest agreement between Microsoft and SAP will provide for a deeper integration between Microsoft .Net and SAP NetWeaver integration platforms.
Currently, more than 40,000 SAP installations run on Microsoft Windows, and almost two-third of SAPs new installations likewise are deployed on Windows, so the relationship makes sense. What it will provide to developers is the ability to extend SAP applications in a Microsoft environment.
The roadmap the two companies outlined—by SAP CEO Henning Kagermann in his keynote address supplemented with a video clip of Bill Gates—covers both technology and business fronts. On the tech front, SAP is running a beta program this summer that will enable developers using ASP.Net to customize and extend SAP applications. The customizations and extensions will be enabled by upgraded SAP Enterprise Portal development capabilities running on Windows and using Microsofts Visual Studio .Net development environment.
SAP will also release in August Version 2.0 of its .Net Connector. Upgrades will include better language support for Visual Basic .Net and better integration with Visual Studio .Net. At the same time, to help Microsoft programmers better program against SAP applications, SAP will join the Visual Studio Industry Partner program, officials said.
With the next version of NetWeaver—likely available in 2005—SAP will offer native support for Web service protocols, which will bring more interoperability with Microsofts BizTalk Server. SAP will also provide sample applications for developers to access SAP capabilities from Office applications and Visual Studio 2005.
On Microsofts side, the company will provide repository managers, available in 2005, that integrate NetWeavers knowledge management functionality and Windows SharePoint Servers and Microsoft Exchange Server.
On the business front, both Microsoft and SAP, of Walldorf, Germany, will add staff to a Collaboration Technology Support Center located in SAPs hometown.
Separately, SAP outlined NetWeavers adaptive computing capabilities that should help users better handle demand for hardware resources through technologies like blade servers and virtual servers, officials said. SAP is working with partners Dell Inc., Fujitsu Ltd., Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM, Intel Corp., Network Appliance Inc., Sun Microsystems Inc. and T-Systems Inc. to provide adaptive computing capabilities.
Finally, the packaged applications for the midmarket include those for CRM (customer relationship management) and ERP (enterprise resource management), as well as a group of vertically aligned applications.
The packages are actually software and services that incorporate SAP best practices around specific business processes, at a fixed scope and fixed implementation price.
The CRM offering, which is based on SAPs enterprise CRM software, includes 16 separate packages that encapsulate customer-centric processes like campaign management, lead management and Internet sales. SAP partners will offer additional CRM capabilities.
The ERP offering is based on mySAP ERP—which means it includes NetWeaver capabilities—and offers best practices for industry-specific implementations. The Best Practice vertically aligned packages are geared for the automotive, chemicals, consumer products, high-tech, industrial machinery and professional services markets.
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