Having delivered mySAP ERP 2005 in May, SAP says it's far along the path away from the aging R/3 applications that once set the standard for ERP. Its destination: next-generation applications based on the company's Enterprise Service-Oriented Architecture.
Enterprise Service-Oriented Architecture, introduced in 2003, is SAP's blueprint for incorporating SOA standards and positions NetWeaver as an integration platform for the vendor's applications and for Web services developed by independent software vendors, all with the goal of making ERP easier to implement and manage.
Earlier versions of SAP's ERP software were bundles of applications adapted for different industries. MySAP ERP 2005, in contrast, combines key applications, such as general ledger, accounts receivable, and HR administration, into a single block known as the ERP core component. Businesses extend those apps to meet their needs using Web services provided by SAP and other vendors, managed by Solution Manager, a tool built into NetWeaver. A mechanism called the Switch Framework is used to turn application functions on and off.
SAP provides some 500 Web services through its Web site. Next year, the vendor plans to release a new version of NetWeaver, called the Business Process Platform, with a repository of built-in Web services. SAP used to sell NetWeaver as a separate product. With mySAP ERP 2005, NetWeaver comes included. It's required to run the applications and includes administration and development tools that used to be part of R/3.
SAP and partners also offer composite applications called xApps, for purposes such as cost and quotation management, that connect to multiple data sources and Web services. SAP seems in no hurry, however, to offer hosted versions of its ERP software. While the vendor debuted a CRM service earlier this year, it has no definite plans for doing the same with mySAP ERP.
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