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xApps in 2006: Progress or potential?

In 2006, SAP increased xApp development, and customers put them to use in a variety of ways. We take a look at some xApps announcements and customer successes.

xApps are an important part of SAP's service-oriented architecture (SOA) strategy. In the past year, the company took steps to increase xApp development and had customers putting them to use in a variety of ways. We take a look back at some xApps announcements and customer successes from 2006.

In late December 2005, Shai Agassi, SAP product and technology group president, said that SAP was a year ahead of schedule with its plan to roll out hundreds of composite applications.

Analysts have differing views on SAP's xApps progress. Derek Prior, research director for Boston-based AMR Research Inc., said, "Overall, the xApps strategy is a good one, but I'm not sure if it has a huge amount of momentum."

On the other hand, Josh Greenbaum, principal for Berkeley, Calif.-based Enterprise Applications Consulting, said, "Momentum behind the concept of xApps is there -- they have achieved a critical mass and the concept is waterproof."

To encourage further development of composite applications and SOA initiatives, SAP rolled out an Enterprise Services Community in April.

At Sapphire, the company put its money where its mouth is, announcing the formation of a venture fund to help spur development of composite applications on NetWeaver. In fact, SAP sees xApps as a way to help drive SOA adoption.

Greenbaum thinks that SAP is doing a good job of seeding a partner ecosystem. "Fundamentally, the xApp market will bulk up because of a large number of partners getting involved," he said.

One example is Philadelphia-based MCA Solutions, which developed a composite application for company asset tracking.

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Take a look at the top SAP stories of 2006

Go way back and see what was big in 2005

At TechEd, Sunil Gupta, director of SAP MDM product marketing, announced that some independent software vendors are also partnering with SAP to develop and sell xApps for MDM, targeting the oil and gas industry and telecommunications.

For its efforts, SAP saw some customer momentum in 2006, with xApps used in interesting ways, from project management and improving workflows and compliance to global trade management.

Projects like these have great potential, according to Greenbaum, but he thinks their success would be easier to quantify with more ROI data.

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