SAP to develop app server software

SAP has revealed plans to develop and sell application server software in what is being seen as an aggressive move to win market...

SAP has revealed plans to develop and sell application server software in what is being seen as an aggressive move to win market share from its rivals, writes Antony Adshead.

The announcement was made at the enterprise software giant's Business Intelligence and Enterprise Portals conference in Leipzig last week, where the company also unveiled combined business intelligence and portal software that it claims will allow businesses to improve processes and increase efficiency.

SAP's chief executive Hasso Plattner said the company will set up a division to develop and sell application server and middleware technology. He explained that this would make it unnecessary for SAP users to go to middleware providers such as IBM or BEA Systems because SAP would provide a one-stop-shop for building collaborative applications.

Plattner also said the linking of SAP's Business Warehouse software with its Enterprise Portal to form mySAP BI would allow the linking of disparate systems and provide business intelligence in a variety of ways.

The move is being seen by analysts as a shift towards greater openness - mySAP BI will include reporting software from Crystal Decisions that will allow data to be drawn from other business systems. It will also have the option of integrating with Ascential Software's tools to link to non-SAP datawarehouses.

Tim Jennings, an analyst at Butler Group, said, "I cannot see SAP establishing itself as a credible middleware supplier, and application servers are becoming a commodity item, with little technical differentiation."

This view was echoed by Tony Lock, senior analyst at Bloor Research. "Like Oracle, all the enterprise application suppliers want to provide customers with the whole shooting match," he said. "Hopefully, it will minimise integration issues but what is becoming clear is that application servers are becoming a commodity item.

"You can get them for free from some, such as Hewlett-Packard, so it is almost a non-issue and it looks like SAP has made a 'me-too' move. It is difficult to see where it will generate extra revenue from this."

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