SAP rolled out an Enterprise Services Community to rally customers, systems integrators, and developers around its composite application and service-oriented architecture initiatives.
The program will initially focus on how Web services can be used to improve business processes in the banking industry in addition to advancements in radio frequency identification technology (RFID) and geospatial information. SAP said the program will allow "partners and customers to define the way software is developed and deployed to solve evolving business requirements."
The program was announced last year at SAP TechEd '05 in Boston as the first multi-industry community to define enterprise services. The new program has an initial membership of more than 60 charter customers and partners who signed on last year.
Charter member customers include Arla Foods, Colgate-Palmolive and Halliburton. SAP vendor partner members are, among others, include Infosys, Juniper Networks, Mercury Interactive Corporation, Open Text, and OSIsoft.
In addition to owning the applications space, SAP could be setting up an environment to strongly influence the infrastructure supporting SAP applications, according to Mike Schiff, president and principal analyst at Virginia-based MAS Strategies.
"Companies are looking for integrated solutions and SAP is setting itself up to be that one stop shop for its customers," Schiff said. "Software vendors are moving up a higher level of the food chain to not just supply the application but supply everything from analytics to integration technologies and Web services is a big part of that."
The program will initially consist of enterprise services definition and advisory groups to identify industry-specific areas that could be better addressed using Web services. After each group has produced its proposal or findings, it will be dissolved, SAP said.
One of the first three groups in the program will focus on developing real-time inventory process information across layers of infrastructure using RFID data. Additional groups will be launched ahead of SAP's Sapphire '06 user conference next month.
SAP has been working in recent years to bolster its developer community and join industry groups to develop standards around SOA. Last December, SAP joined with Oracle Corp. to form an industry group that is unveiling a new programming model for SOA.
The group, which consists of a mixture of software and infrastructure vendors is developing new specifications that reduce complexity for developers building applications by providing a way to unify services regardless of programming language and deployment platform.
SAP has also been trying to develop a community around SOA and its ESA strategy. The SAP Developer Network is an SAP-controlled environment for developers, which offers free software downloads, sample code, forums, blogs and documentation for SAP software. SAP is trying to get more independent software vendors (ISVs) to launch products on NetWeaver and to enable customers to lobby for new features directly to the developer community.