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SAP aims to emulate the success of Sun Microsystems' Java Community Process (JCP) with an organization to extend its proprietary ERP architecture.

The enterprise resource planning (ERP) giant has launched the Enterprise Services Community Process, encouraging developers in hardware, software and services companies to build applications for its Enterprise Services Architecture (ESA).

The Enterprise Services Community Process will incorporate many of the successful attributes of open community processes like the Java Community Process (JCP), according to SAP. The JCP claims 700 corporate and individual members spanning hardware, software, telecoms and systems integration. SAP's inspiration should come as little surprise, given that George Paolini, who is leading SAP's effort, is a founder of the JCP. He was recurited earlier this year from Borland Software to build a channel around ESA's NetWeaver and xApps.

Platform props

Support from developers has become important for platform providers such as SAP as the industry moves into the era of Service Oriented Architectures (SOAs). Developers can build applications and services that rely on the underlying software infrastructure - software like SAP's mySAP - and that attract customers.

SAP is using ESA's NetWeaver and xApps to appeal to developers. NetWeaver uses web services to open up SAP's ABAP architecture to "ordinary" developers while xApps relies on composite applications - software programs composed using elements of other applications that are accessed through web services.

SAP's SOA journey is complicated by the presence of Oracle. Oracle, gunning for SAP's business software crown, aims to consolidate its middleware on a single architecture under Project Fusion. This will make it easier for developers to write applications for Oracle's various products using a consistent set of interfaces.

One way of outflanking Oracle, and consolidating NetWeaver and xApps, is to achieve buy-in from other vendors. Hence SAP will use the Enterprise Community Process to create grass-roots momentum and take SAP into new markets. Speaking earlier this year, Paolini positioned the Enterprise Services Community Process as a repository of composite applications to help extend SAP's functionality across horizontal services and, eventually, vertical markets.

SAP this week said the Enterprise Community Process would enable knowledge sharing and access to information, and build an "overall climate of trust and involvement." Underlying this, SAP announced seven ESA licensees - Avaya, Dell, Hewlett Packard, Network Appliance, Novell, Research In Motion and RSA Security.

In another nod to the JCP model, this time in compatibility, SAP has instituted a certification process that will ensure applications and services meet a set of pre-defined standards. Software and services that pass will be branded "Enterprise Services Ready". ®

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