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Microsoft, SAP open door to developers

Ellen O'Brien

Hoping to draw Microsoft's development community into the NetWeaver world, Microsoft and SAP today introduced a new portal development tool.

The SAP Enterprise Portal Development Kit (PDK) for Microsoft .NET will be available, free of charge, to Microsoft developers and SAP customers.

The toolkit will be provided as an add-in to the Microsoft Visual Studio .NET, and will allow users to build portal components for SAP NetWeaver using any of the supported development languages, including Microsoft Visual C# and Microsoft Visual Basic .NET.

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The ultimate goal for both companies is to have Microsoft Office function as a full-blown interface to the SAP world, said Joshua Greenbaum, principal analyst at Berkeley, Calif.-based Enterprise Applications Consulting.

"They want to eventually link Office very tightly to the mySAP suite," Greenbaum said. "Obviously, that has to happen via NetWeaver."

Greenbaum and other consultants have SAP clients who this year have killed .NET projects because they decided to take advantage of NetWeaver, SAP's integration platform.

"This is a significant first step for the two partners," Greenbaum said. "This is a difficult -- and yet valuable -- partnership."

SAP likes to say that Microsoft is a partner first, a customer and competitor after that. But the two companies have been doing battle for small and mid-sized customers as SAP pushes its way into that market. Last summer, the companies confirmed that they had considered merging.

There are more than 40,000 customers who run SAP applications on Microsoft's Windows operating system, according to a press release issued by the companies this morning.

It's important for SAP to attract programmers who fall into the Microsoft .Net camp, and the new PDK is part of an effort to introduce them to NetWeaver. The integration platform is the foundation for SAP products, and is advertised as an 'open' platform than can help integrate SAP applications as well as those provided by competitors.


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