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The top nine SAP stories of 2009

There was plenty of excitement to go around in the enterprise software world in 2009, and SAP certainly didn't disappoint. Take a look at SearchSAP.com's picks for the top SAP news of 2009.

Chances are you may have been too busy in 2009 to keep up with all of what SAP had to offer in the enterprise software...

world. Check out SearchSAP.com's picks for the top nine SAP stories of 2009.

9. SAP provides more clarity on BEx to SAP BusinessObjects transition

Customers had been confused, and many angered, by the announcement that SAP would retire BEx in 2016. But there's no need to rush to SAP BusinessObjects, SAP clarified this year at Sapphire. Company exec Jonathan Becher said SAP will make the move easier for customers, but he neglected to provide details on how.

Analysts also urged customers to consider more than the end of support in deciding whether to move from BEx tools to BOBJ.

8. No big acquisitions, but plenty of new friends

Unlike Oracle, which threw the market into a tizzy with its Sun acquisition, SAP steered clear of large acquisitions this year. It picked up carbon management vendor ClearStandards, retail software vendor SAF, and platform as a service provider Coghead.

But SAP did announce some interesting partnerships, particularly in its development of mobile applications. With Sybase, it plans to mobilize the Business Suite on the iPhone and BlackBerry. And a partnership with Teradata allows SAP customers to run BW on a Teradata database.

7. Sapphire Europe cancelled; Sapience comes to Boston

SAP decided to can the big Sapphire show in Europe and hold smaller, regional events instead. The company said the move wasn't a reaction to the weakening economy, but attendance at the U.S. event was down in 2009.

Meanwhile, a new event made its way to Boston – Sapience. Held by Helmuth Gümbel, managing partner of Switzerland-based Strategy Partners International, the event showcased ways in which SAP customers could lower their total cost of ownership. As Sapience helped customers figure out how to do more with the software they already had, SAP talked up analysts and media about its software strategy for the year at its annual Influencer's Summit. Both events took place in Boston.

For more on top SAP news
Check out the top eight stories of 2008

6. Doing more with less continues to top list of SAP customer concerns

The economy continued to be the major consideration for projects in 2009. Many companies shifted from ERP projects to benefits realization, looking to lower the total cost of ownership for their applications.

The recession also had applications professionals looking to SAP virtualization for cost savings. SAP customers, historically reluctant to try virtualization, started looking for ways to save on hardware. While most SAP customers still aren't virtualizing mission-critical applications, many are using it in non-production environments.

5. Rimini Street launches third-party SAP support

Just in time for Sapphire, third-party support provider Rimini Street finally launched its program for SAP customers. It encompassed more releases than the company first planned, including ECC 5.0, ECC 6.0, BW 3.5 and R/3 releases. Early adopters have been pleased with the program.

4. SAP's John Wookey outlines an on-demand strategy

It was big news in 2008 when SAP tapped former Oracle head of application development John Wookey to spearhead its on-demand efforts. The vendor's previous foray into the cloud, Business ByDesign, still hadn't materialized, and SAP's SaaS strategy was cloudy at best.

In the spring, Wookey revealed his plan to develop on-demand, line-of-business applications for SAP's large Business Suite customers. The vendor touts this as the major way its customers will innovate moving forward.

3. But Business ByDesign still isn't on the market in volume

So much for SAP's goal of having 10,000 customers on its on-demand suite by 2010. SAP released a new version of SAP Business ByDesign – 2.0 – that included new business process scenarios and some cool mashups with Google, which about 100 customers are running. The company is still working on making Business ByDesign profitable, which is holding up its general release. SAP says the product should be ready in 2010. For a sneak preview, check out this Business ByDesign demo.

2. SAP shifts focus from "time-consuming" to "timeless software"

Leo Apotheker took the reins as sole CEO officially in May. He kicked off his term with a pledge at Sapphire to make SAP's software easier to use and deploy, and to help his customers lower the total cost of running it.

The vision rests on a term coined by CTO Vishal Sikka -- timeless software. Software development will be structured around the cloud, in-memory technology and mobile platforms in order to make innovation for customers seamless.

SAP introduced Business Suite 7 as the cornerstone of this vision in March. The release extends enhancement packages and harmonizes the user interface across the suite.

1. SAP bows to pressure from users, delays SAP Enterprise Support fee increases and vows to justify future increases with benchmarking program

SAP's Enterprise Support saga gains the top spot again this year. Bowing to pressure from user groups, SAP announced in the summer that it would delay its planned maintenance and support fee increase until it could prove it was worth the money. The SAP User Group Network (SUGEN), a team of representatives from user groups across the globe, worked with SAP to establish a benchmarking program for future cost increases.

They're still tweaking the SAP KPI program, and the cost increase is still on hold. The move quelled what had been an anomaly for the vendor – revolt from its famously loyal customer base – and appears to have marked a turning point for SAP, which is again pledging a closer relationship with its customers.

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