SAP reveals plans to open up architecture to aid integration with Java and .net apps

Sap user conference: Redesign aims for easier links between ERP and web services

SAP used its Sapphire 05 user conference in Copenhagen last week to showcase moves to open up its software architecture to users and developers.

The enterprise software supplier is aiming to boost the adoption of its Netweaver middleware platform by making it easier for SAP users to link their Java and Microsoft .net-based applications with SAP products.

SAP is redesigning its Netweaver application platform to accommodate the development of service oriented architectures, so that all future business applications can plug into it as web service components.

The new software infrastructure - Enterprise Services Architecture (ESA) - will emerge in 2007, with Netweaver a core component. ESA is based on the concept of web services, where software components can be reused flexibly across the IT infrastructure to cut costs and bring efficiencies to a business.

SAP's strategy is to convert Netweaver from application middleware to an architecture for running business processes.

"Netweaver will not be an enterprise application integration platform any longer. This year we will evolve Netweaver into a business process platform," said SAP chief executive Henning Kagermann in his keynote speech.

The result will be an event-driven, service oriented system that will link business processes across a company's various departments, said SAP.

Sean Atchinson, head of SAP at British Gas parent company Centrica, said, "It was always the logical way they were going to go, with their technology stack moving to an open architecture - they needed to be able to work in tandem and harmony with Microsoft .net and Java communities.

"Our advice [to other SAP users] is try to stay as standard as possible, because the ownership costs come down and upgrades become simpler, and you can reuse processes across different parts of the business, for example human resources or procurement."

Next year, SAP plans to release packaged and custom-built software applications that run on the Netweaver BPP platform, with third-party developers also releasing programs. SAP itself will release the MySAP ERP suite (the successor to R3) for mid-sized companies running Netweaver BPP.

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