SAP and Microsoft have released details of how the two software companies will integrate their respective NetWeaver and .net strategic platforms.
The co-operation agreement is aimed at reducing friction for customers who have to work with both .net and NetWeaver but do not want to work with bridges, said SAP board member Shai Agassi at the Sapphire international customer conference in New Orleans.
Customers from both companies have demanded tighter integration, according to Agassi.
Almost two-thirds of all SAP installations are deployed on Microsoft's Windows operating systems, with more than 40,000 SAP installations already running on these systems - more than all other platforms combined.
Last year, SAP unveiled NetWeaver as its latest integration and application server middleware. The web services-based platform aims at easing users' integration problems by linking disparate applications and data sources.
"Both [SAP and Microsoft] are betting heavily on web services, and now they've been able to find common ground," said Eric Rudder, vice-president of servers and tools at Microsoft.
SAP will begin a beta version of SAP Enterprise Portal SDK (software design kit) for .net within the next four months. The aim is to enable developers who use the ASP.net programming model to customise and extend SAP applications, by delivering richer and more robust SAP Enterprise Portal development capabilities on the Windows platform using Microsoft Visual Studio.net as a development tool.
SAP will offer a version of SAP.net Connector Version 2.0 in August, building on the work the two companies have already done to help customers more easily integrate SAP applications with .net-based applications.
Features include enhanced language support for Visual Basic.net, better integration with Visual Studio.net and enhancement to support development of more secure applications and controls.
SAP will support Visual Studio.net by joining the Visual Studio Industry Partner programme, thereby allowing software developers who use Visual Studio.net to program against SAP applications from the Visual Studio Integrated Development Environment.
The next version of SAP NetWeaver will provide native support for advanced web services protocols, enabling reliable interoperability with core .net technologies including Microsoft BizTalk Server.
SAP will deliver sample applications for developers to implement smart clients to access SAP system capabilities from Microsoft Office System applications and Visual Studio 2005.
By early 2005, Microsoft aims to provide repository managers that integrate between SAP NetWeaver Knowledge Management, Windows SharePoint Services and Microsoft Exchange Server.
In addition, Microsoft and SAP have agreed to staff a Collaboration Technology Support Centre, where SAP is located. The centre will help the companies identify and present integration scenarios and support sales and staffs.
The two companies will also collaborate on marketing, including the joint publication of white papers, and have agreed to cross-license patents to provide a better environment for joint technical collaboration and systems development.
John Blau writes for IDG News Service