"We can't build the coming generation of systems on multiple frameworks. It will not work," he said. "Software business is so big that no company can build totally alone anymore." Plattner, whose company has moved aggressively to open up its proprietary systems over the last several years, said he had tried unsuccessfully to convince Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer to attend the conference. A theme throughout the conference has been the competition between Java, developed by Sun Microsystems, and Microsoft's .Net framework for building and deploying Web applications.
"Only if standards between applications and the framework are as close and as rigid and simplistic as SQL, then there's a chance to port applications within one database to another database," Plattner said. SQL is the language supported by all relational databases designed for client-server environments.
SAP will make its SAP Web Application Server compatible with the Java 2 Enterprise Edition version 1.3, the latest version of the application platform, Plattner said. The new server, which has been under development since 2000 and should be available in June, is a key component of the company's open-integration infrastructure mySAP technology.
Existing standards such as Simple Object Access Protocol and UDDI, core components of emerging Web-services standards, aren't enough to bridge the gap between applications, he said. The biggest problem is semantics integration--the kind of information applications have to understand about companies or employees and how they should be related and classified.