SAP has announced two updates to the Master Data Management (MDM) component of its NetWeaver integration and application platform.
The updates, which will appear by the end of the year, are designed to make it easier to synchronise data between different systems.
Two other new NetWeaver enhancements, faster searching of corporate data and more robust handling of errors in Java applications, will only appear in the next release of NetWeaver, planned for 2005, the company said at the SAP TechEd conference in San Diego.
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The first of the two updates to MDM, available immediately, adds new data management capabilities, including an object modelling framework, new web services and new data normalisation capabilities, SAP said.
The object modelling framework allows users to define data objects with attributes specific to their business, complementing the standard data objects included with MDM. All the standard NetWeaver services will work with both standard and custom data objects.
New web services interfaces optimise the process of loading millions of data objects from outside sources, and make it possible to orchestrate the activities of a collection of web services as part of a single business process.
SAP will introduce the second update to MDM in December, adding global data synchronisation capabilities that will make it possible to synchronise data all along the supply chain, from manufacturers through distributors to retailers, in an industry-standard format.
SAP also described two enhancements to other parts of NetWeaver. These will be included in a new version of the platform due for release next year, according to SAP spokeswoman Alicia Lenze.
The first enhancement will address problems experienced with some large-scale Java applications, which are vulnerable because a single error can affect many users at once, causing them to lose data or their screens to freeze.
By isolating these users' sessions from one another in "containers" in NetWeaver's Java virtual machine (JVM), the company hopes to improve application stability by limiting the impact of errors to a single user session - reducing the workload for support staff in the process.
In addition to its effect on stability, the new JVM framework reduces overall memory consumption for multi-user Java applications. The framework also allows administrators to turn on debugging controls for a single user process, meaning that they can identify and monitor errors in a live system, without having to recreate the problem on a test system.
The last NetWeaver enhancement, an improved business intelligence and searching technology, will make it easier and quicker to access information on inventory or profitability stored in disparate systems across the enterprise.
Still in the labs, the technology promises a tenfold improvement in response times to queries, with some queries being up to 1,000 times faster than using traditional techniques. It will be of most help to businesses with high data volumes and large numbers of simultaneous data requests of an unpredictable nature.
Peter Sayer writes for IDG News Service