SAP is opening up its NetWeaver platform to allow customers to extend adaptive computing capabilities to all Microsoft
With a majority of SAP customers running SAP applications in Microsoft environments, extending NetWeaver to allow virtualization was natural, according to Amit Sinha, director of product marketing for SAP NetWeaver. The architecture changes extend virtualization to SAP applications and the Microsoft SQL Server database management system in a Windows environment.
"Adaptive computing capabilities not only extend to all applications, SAP R/3 or mySAP ERP, but also things that we are building together with Microsoft," Sinha said. "Sharing resources for applications wasn't possible using NetWeaver with Microsoft Windows servers and .NET."
SAP and Microsoft have come closer recently, jointly releasing and marketing Mendocino, which combines some limited SAP functions with Microsoft Office tools. The project allows end users to conduct work in the familiar Microsoft Outlook environment. SAP and Microsoft plan to release a feature rich version with more SAP transactions melded with Microsoft Office 12.
Sinha said several architectural changes were made to the Adaptive Computing Controller (ACC), a group of virtualization tools, available in NetWeaver. The ACC can be used to dynamically shift hardware resources for applications based on need. Computing power for an application system can be changed in minutes using the ACC, Sinha said.
The architectural changes could put SAP's ACC in direct competition with at least one of SAP's partner products. HP launched its Adaptive Enterprise initiative with support for SAP users on HP-UX and Linux in 2003. Last year, HP launched Virtualized Infrastructure Solutions (VIS) for the mySAP Business Suite, building in support for users of Microsoft Windows-based systems.
An SAP spokesperson said the software vendor is leveraging HP's adaptive computing capabilities, not competing with them. SAP comes from the "application/middleware angle, while SAP comes from the hardware/OS angle."
Only a couple of years ago, SAP and Microsoft were distancing themselves from each other as NetWeaver appeared to be headed in an enterprise Java direction that was distinct from Microsoft, said Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Gilford, N.H.-based Interarbor Solutions. But the political landscape in the enterprise software market has shifted, driving the two vendors back together, he said.
"NetWeaver as an SOA platform technically should be quite flexible, but I don't think technology has been the hurdle here, it's been a matter of will," Gardner said. "Microsoft also has been showing more openness and so this seems to be really more of a matter of dance partners getting into more of a passionate hug."
The move is also recognition that a majority of SAP customers are Microsoft customers, Gardner said.
"These companies are the last pinnacles of proprietary and neither [SAP nor Microsoft] has come out with an open source strategy to the degree of IBM or HP or even Oracle of late, so they have that in common and they have a lot at stake in order to maintain their market positions," he said.