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Sapphire to highlight SAP architecture shift

SAP will kick off its Sapphire U.S. users conference this week, shining the spotlight on its enterprise services architecture strategy.

SAP is continuing to market itself as the safest choice for customers, capitalizing on the uncertainty in the rapidly changing enterprise resource planning (ERP) software market.

If we can start to show the customer benefits to the architecture shift, we're hopeful that the market will buy into our evolutionary approach.
Bill Wohl,

At its annual Sapphire U.S. user conference scheduled to begin Wednesday in Boston, the giant software vendor will try to clearly communicate its strategy to transform its NetWeaver application and integration platform into a complete enterprise services architecture (ESA) by 2007.

The process will involve several software partners and systems integrators that plan to make their products ESA-enabled, according to SAP spokesman Bill Wohl.

Making the first announcement today, EMC will be launching an ESA-enabled storage management product.

Launching products that are service-oriented architecture-enabled will result in easier integration with the entire SAP software stack, according to Wohl.

"Companies don't want their technology decisions made for them," Wohl said. "If we can start to show the customer benefits to the architecture shift, we're hopeful that the market will buy into our evolutionary approach."

That approach includes creating an application infrastructure that is more flexible for customers. Built-in flexibility enables customers to create and integrate homegrown applications and even software from third-party vendors into their SAP system, Wohl said.

The goal is to allow companies to more easily configure components for a specific market or industry, Wohl said.

The annual user event comes at a time when software vendor consolidation has created uncertainty in the ERP market. SAP will push its customers to upgrade their version of R/3 to mySAP ERP, beginning the shift to a Web services architecture.

SAP plans to use the conference to highlight several recent customer wins in the banking and retail industries.

SAP will also highlight its new analytics composite applications. Nearly 200 composite applications were launched at its international user conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. The new products are embedded in SAP modules and draw data quickly across the SAP stack.

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"There's a huge base of customers that have made an investment in SAP and those folks are hearing our message and pointing in the right direction," Wohl said.

SAP also plans to announce several additions to its customer relationship management software, mySAP CRM, developing its own industry specific versions.

Paul O'Neill, the former secretary of the U.S. Treasury, will address attendees at a welcoming reception on Tuesday night. The opening keynote address will be given Wednesday morning by SAP CEO Henning Kagermann. And on Thursday executive board member Shai Agassi will address users.

The Sapphire schedule also includes Thursday night entertainment. This year's headliner is Bon Jovi.

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