SAP promises no major software release until 2010

SAP's Shai Agassi told thousands of attendees at its TechEd conference that the company plans no major updates to mySAP ERP 2005 over the next five years.

LAS VEGAS -- SAP's Shai Agassi promised SAP users that the latest version of his company's software would receive no major updates over the next five years.

Agassi, who serves as president of SAP's product and technology group, said the company would instead release optional enhancement packages to mySAP ERP 2005 leading up to a major update in 2010. SAP users and industry observers said the move was made to speed adoption of the company's flagship software as the competition with Oracle Corp. intensifies.

"It's the stable core that you can build on and continue to enhance," Agassi said of mySAP ERP 2005.

More on SAP vs. Oracle:

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SAP plans to have its Business Suite completely service-enabled by 2007. Until then, SAP executives have been urging customers to use the software vendor's NetWeaver platform to begin putting in place the pieces for a services oriented architecture. With standard maintenance of SAP R/3 software set to expire at the end of this year, SAP executives are trying to convince their customers to begin upgrade projects now.

"SAP customers traditionally like to put in a release and run with it," said Ray Wang, a senior analyst at Cambridge-Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc. "Customers like to know that patch cycles and release cycles are much more manageable."

Agassi also introduced a new Discovery System, a package of software components that allows SAP users to test a system design in a sandbox. The software package enables customers to create services using Java-based tools. It also includes a set of test applications.

A NetWeaver Composition Environment has also been unveiled, packaging the Web Dynpro development environment and SAP Visual Composer. SAP executives said the toolset should make it easy for developers to build custom composite applications.

"The quicker they can get people to adopt the next generation of software, the more likely the ecosystem starts to flourish because their customers have NetWeaver in place," Wang said. "They want at least a year or two head start on Oracle."

Oracle has been offering its customers what it calls Applications Unlimited, a program which provides ongoing enhancements to current Oracle Applications beyond the delivery of its Fusion applications.

SAP users have had a strong comfort level with SAP R/3, said Neil Hudy, a database architect with Atlanta-based Spectrum Brands Inc. It also may have taken users time to get familiar with the direction SAP was taking with its NetWeaver platform, which it introduced in 2003, Hudy said.

"Companies are beginning to invest in new features and improved modules," he said. "For a while we've all been content."

Darren Martin, a Basis Developer with Victoria British Columbia's Capitol Regional District, said that many SAP customers have been waiting patiently for SAP to service-enable its software.

"It's good to see that they're finally moving onto the next generation of software," Martin said. "But by the time we get finished completely upgrading we'll be looking at another implementation."

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