05:02 PM

SAP Business Suite 7.0 Kills Usual Software Upgrade Process

With the more harmonious approach to software application updates, SAP has its own story to tell against Oracle's upcoming Fusion application suite.

SAP on Wednesday announced Business Suite 7, which represents a new way of software deployment more than a features upgrade. With the new approach, SAP said it's doing away with its conventional upgrade process for software applications.

Business Suite 7 represents the most current versions of SAP's business applications, including those for managing supply chains, product life cycles, and customer relations, among others. Once upgraded, customers won't have to do a full upgrade for five years.

Instead, SAP is syncing all of its improvements to its applications so that they'll all be available at the same time. Customers will then be able to pick and choose from this "enhancement package" as little or as much as they want, according to SAP.

The suite announcement also includes "Value Scenarios," or industry-specific software modules SAP is developing to help companies analyze a specific issue, such as the shopping experience in the retail industry, by viewing data across applications, or implement a business process across applications, such as collaborative engineering, in the manufacturing industry. This approach uses dashboard and other technologies incorporated from SAP's Business Objects acquisition.

Late last year, SAP announced Best Run Now, a new software and SAP services offering designed to help companies install software to achieve a specific business goal, such as cash-flow improvement, within 90 days.

Collectively, these offerings and the switch from upgrades to enhancement packages are intended to help customers cut IT costs and resource requirements, while also improving business flexibility and insight during these tough economic times, said CEO Leo Apotheker in a press conference this morning.

A customer that upgrades to Business Suite 7, for example, won't have to do a full resource-intensive upgrade to SCM one month and a full upgrade to CRM several months later. Instead, that customer can choose only the enhancements it wants for SCM and CRM from a single enhancement package. The first package is due later this year.

"It is the next chapter of our success story," Apotheker said. "It's a keystone we will build on for the future."

It also gives SAP a story of its own as its top competitor, Oracle, continues work on its common-platform suite of Fusion applications.

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