SAP Unveils its Latest

Several new SAP products and initiatives were announced at the company’s annual Sapphire customer conference.

The Sapphire exhibition area included booths from partner companies as well as SAP.
The Sapphire exhibition area included booths from partner companies as well as SAP.

Ease-of-use and business flexibility were among the watchwords this week at the SAP AG Sapphire ’06 international customer conference in Orlando, Fla. SAP, the Walldorf, Germany-based enterprise software giant, unveiled several new product offerings and initiatives at the event.

SAP announced the global availability of mySAP ERP 2005, the latest version of its enterprise resource planning (ERP) application. The new version of mySAP ERP features more than 300 product enhancements to provide companies with better information access and decision support, SAP said, including role-based, intuitive work centers that empower users with single click-to-action functionality.

SAP also demonstrated an early version of a new, simplified user interface called “Project Muse.” That demonstration followed the release on May 2 of Duet software from SAP and Microsoft Corp., Redmond, Wash., which leverages the business environment of Microsoft Office to provide a seamless user experience between Microsoft and mySAP ERP applications.

Another step

SAP said that the new mySAP ERP 2005—built on the SAP NetWeaver platform—provides a further step along the SAP road map for enterprise service-oriented architecture (SOA). The latest mySAP version marks the first application that connects all operations through an intelligent foundation of cross-functional business processes, combining software applications with the underlying infrastructure for greater flexibility and fluid communications with customers and suppliers, the company said.

In other announcements on the enterprise SOA front, SAP said it will be the first to deliver standards-based, productized enterprise services as part of its platform, and also unveiled a new $125 million global fund that will invest in select independent software vendors (ISVs) that are building innovative solutions for enterprise SOA.

SAP said the productized services—Web services that provide defined business logic—will offer a faster, more flexible way for companies to adapt and innovate their business processes. Enterprise services are essential building blocks for business process flexibility, as they provide reusable pieces of application functionality that can be rapidly composed to form new or enhanced business processes, the company noted.

SAP said it plans to make 500 productized enterprise services available in June with the latest release of SAP NetWeaver and the mySAP Business Suite. Meanwhile, the new $125 million “SAP NetWeaver Fund”—to be funded out of SAP’s corporate development funds—will focus its investment strategy on “up-and-coming ISVs that have committed to building their products on the SAP NetWeaver platform.”

Compliance help

Among other Sapphire ’06 announcements, SAP said it has created a new SAP business unit to focus on governance, risk management and compliance (GRC). SAP said the new unit will provide solutions to help companies deal with compliance requirements such as those dictated by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), among others, and will also provide solutions for specific industry demands, including emissions standards in chemicals and utilities sectors, and Food and Drug Administration requirements for the pharmaceuticals industry.

SAP also announced plans to “supercharge business intelligence,” with the general availability of a business intelligence (BI) accelerator that can analyze critical business information up to 200 times faster than alternative tools. SAP collaborated with Intel Corp., the Santa Clara, Calif., chip maker, to develop the BI accelerator, an analytical engine within SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence. It can crunch through terabytes of data in seconds without specialty hardware or dedicated system tuning, SAP said.

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