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SAP says no big ERP updates 'til 2010

Thinks modular for NetWeaver

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There'll be no more big updates for SAP's ERP software until 2010, as SAP entices customers and developers to adopt new products and initiatives for its NetWeaver SOA strategy.

SAP product and technology group president Shai Agassi said Tuesday mySAP ERP 2005, launched in June, is the core of SAP's software and that this core would not be updated for another five years. SAP will instead introduce changes to the core - such as new functions and composite applications in vertical sectors - through Enhancement Packages released once every one or two quarters.

Agassi, opening SAP's TechEd conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, promised developers, partners and customers that mySAP ERP 2005 "will now go on for a very long time".

mySAP ERP 2005 is considered the first full implementation of SAP's NetWeaver strategy, which uses web services to turn SAP's traditionally monolithic and proprietary stack into a modular and open architecture that can be customized by business managers and extended by developers who'd otherwise not bother with SAP.

NetWeaver has been SAP's vision since 2003 and the company has been embedding the necessary web services APIs into its software, turning it into a platform partners and customers can target for service oriented architectures (SOA). ERP is a critical element of NetWeaver so it's vital for SAP that customers and partners ditch legacy versions of SAP R/3 and even mySAP ERP 2004.

That's a slow move though. According to Gartner, 500 of SAP's 30,000 customers had moved from R/3 to mySAP ERP 2004 by May this year. SAP on Tuesday claimed it has 107 live customers on mySAP ERP 2005 with a "much larger" number making a "licensing commitment" to move. Previously, SAP has encouraged customers to move by warning maintenance for R/3 would end in 2009.

To facilitate the move this time, Agassi outlined existing SAP services and new tools to assist users. Laying it on the line, Agassi said: "2007 is the year you will build, release and consume all the information we have given you since 2003... [TechEd] is your time to raise your level, become a strategic value to your enterprise and a strategic asset for SAP."

Agassi announced technologies and initiatives designed to establish support from developers and business managers for NetWeaver and mySAP ERP 2005.

SAP Enterprise Search was released to developers for free trial to gain feedback ahead of commercial launch in 2007. Enterprise Search targets information workers, and is a meta search service that will root through structured and unstructured data and, SAP promised, non-SAP data sources through both SAP and non-SAP front ends. SAP is looking to developers to provide extensions.

Also launched was SAP's business process expert community. The goal of this, SAP's third community effort, is to help partners and customers build business processes based on NetWeaver. SAP claimed 30,000 members consisting of business analysts, solutions consultants and process developers it says were referred during the last few months by the 500,000 developer members of SAP's Developer Network (SDN).

Members of the business process expert community get support and resources from SAP, which expects to add a new group for each industrial segment each month - kicking off, SAP announced a consumer products knowledge centre. This latest effort joins SDN, enterprise services community launched in April and consisting of 100 members, and SAP's industry value networks forced on technology.

Agassi also talked up the forthcoming SAP's NetWeaver Visual Composer, consisting of tools to build business processes that get delivered in software, and SAP Business Intelligence Accelerator, a software appliance built with Hewlett Packard to speed queries and to apparently minimize the need for a database. ®

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