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Hewlett Packard has put its formidable weight behind SAP's version of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) with the announcement this week of a bagful of new services under the banner of SAP's Enterprise SOA. The new services will extend HP's existing Adaptive Infrastructure to work alongside SAP's NetWeaver Portal and aim to make it easier for HP's SAP customers build service-based applications.

HP is the fifth largest SAP site in the world and claims it has installed 55,000 customer implementations of SAP - a combination which puts it in a unique position as an SAP supporter and implementer. It says the new initiative will enable its SAP customers to ride the new wave of service-based computing.

HP sees future applications increasingly created from predefined services rather than built from scratch. Last year it introduced its own implementation of a Composite Application Factory to provide customers with a method of building custom applications from services components.

"We see this as a way to move away from monolithic development to a more flexible approach based on a catalogue of component services from which you can compose an application," explains Harald Binder, marketing manager for application services at HP Services Europe. "The Composite Application Factory is a way to industrialise this approach and, to a degree, we see development being replaced by composition."

Binder says that the approach is an evolutionary step forward from object-oriented, component-based development. While he accepts that such software re-use strategies have not always delivered on their promise in the past, increased standardisation and better packaging means there is much better chance it will be successful this time round.

"The difference is that these are self-defining objects which can, for example, work across HTTP without proprietary links,” he said. “Yes there is still a lot of work to do but we see this as quite a step forward."

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