• January 16, 2003
  • By David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com, Jason Flynn,

SAP and Microsoft Partner for Web Services

Today SAP AG announced its strategy to drive down the time and money associated with the implementation and integration of enterprise applications like CRM and ERP. Through SAP's Enterprise Services Architecture (ESA) blueprint, companies should be able to leverage existing business solutions, whether SAP applications or not, through Web services.

"All solutions are going to run on the Enterprise Services Architecture. We're putting all solutions on this enterprise architecture just like we did with R/3," says Shai Agassi, an SAP executive board member.

ESA supports what SAP dubs cross applications, or xApps, which capture business processes and deliver snap-on solutions. "We're not only providing the business process, but all the connectors to integrate into SAP and non-SAP applications," says Peter Graf, vice president of market strategy at SAP.

The company also launched SAP NetWeaver, the next evolution of mySAP technology, which it claims provides the technology foundation to enable ESA by providing the tools, frameworks, patterns, rules, and methodologies that enable SAP and partners to develop cross-functional business processes. The company says NetWeaver builds on SAP's campaign to integrate people, information, and business processes across technologies and organizations.

Further expanding its more than 10-year relationship with Microsoft, SAP also announced it will integrate NetWeaver with Microsoft .NET and IBM WebSphere (J2EE), enabling customers to integrate into and manage heterogeneous infrastructures.

"This year marks the year for partnership between Microsoft and SAP," Microsoft CEO Bill Gates said in a prerecorded interview. "I'm pleased to announce the integration capabilities of Microsoft .NET with SAP's NetWeaver and Web-services enterprise architecture." Gates added that .NET is being integrated with the mySAP Portal and that Microsoft and SAP will "continue to work together around Web-services standards."

"Today's announcement is as significant as the 1992 introduction of SAP's 3-tier client/server architecture," said Hasso Plattner, cochairman, CEO, and cofounder of SAP, in a company release.

However, not everyone shares Plattner's enthusiasm. "It's nothing terribly new. This is basically the continuation of what SAP announced at TechEd in 2001, [where the company launched mySAP technology for open integration]," says AMR Research Inc. analyst Lance Travis.

Yet, customers are lining up at the door. Following in the wake of SAP's announcements has been a slew of releases by various companies who have signed on to support integration of their software with SAP NetWeaver. In total 22 companies, including Ascential Software, Interwoven, Lighthammer Software, NRX Global, Vedaris Inc., and webMethods came out with statements supporting SAP's launch.

Also among those planning to offer full integration with NetWeaver is WebEx Communications Inc., the San Jose-based Web-communications provider. Jay Shaw, director of strategic channel management for WebEx, explained that the more his company integrated its Web-meeting services with NetWeaver, the more adoption of its services WebEx expects to have by SAP customers and partners.

"In terms of multichannel access, real-time collaboration is the key. That's the biggest piece we want to drive home with this integration," Shaw says. "We feel that with our software, we are the piece that is going to hold it together."

Outside of WebEx's involvement with SAP's new launch, Shaw says that he expects the new platform will have a large impact on e-learning, CRM, and various forms of human resource management.

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