BOSTON -- SAP CEO Henning Kagermann has launched SAP's annual Sapphire user conference, announcing several large software vendors that will partner with SAP to produce services-based products.
Kagermann said a number of big-name companies are buying into SAP's promise of an open standard, Web services-enabled platform, which SAP calls an Enterprise Services Architecture (ESA). That architecture, which will be the foundation of all SAP software by 2007, will move all SAP customers toward a service-oriented architecture (SOA), Kagermann said.
"Growth in uncertain times means that we can no longer rely on traditional, baked-in business processes anymore," Kagermann said. "Our approach brings Web services technology to the enterprise level."
Adobe Systems Inc., Cisco Systems Inc., Computer Associates International Inc., EMC Corp., Intel Corp., Macromedia Inc., Mercury, Microsoft, Symantec Corp. and Veritas Software Corp. will license ESA to provide ESA-ready products that integrate easily into a Web services architecture.
Under the partnership with SAP, the software vendors will receive fully featured development and runtime tools that allow them to immediately build, test and certify ESA-ready products. SAP licenses ESA to the vendors, and has ironed out separate financial agreements to share royalties on the products.
SAP will also open its software to independent software vendors by providing technical information on its Web services approach with tools that work with architecture and development information, such as data schemas, user interfaces and application models, for the automation of business processes on top of enterprise services.
Shanthi Adloori, a senior IT manager with San Jose, Calif.-based KLA-Tencor Corp., listened carefully to Kagermann's speech. KLA-Tencor produces semiconductor chip equipment and is currently running SAP Enterprise 4.7 on an Oracle database.
The company also uses PeopleSoft software and is deciding whether to migrate completely to SAP, Adloori said.
"I think they're going in the right direction," Adloori said. "There's a big consolidation of vendors right now, and I think everyone is trying to listen and wait it out."
Kagermann also laid out SAP's plan to transition to an SOA over the next three years. SAP will begin through its company partnerships and ISVs and then launch its All-In-One suite on the new architecture in 2006 followed by mySAP ERP and the complete Business Suite, Kagermann said.
"We're not asking you to rip out and replace the IT infrastructure that you've invested in," Kagermann said. "This will be a gradual transition."
SAP will adapt its software to a changing marketplace, Kagermann said. As various industries undergo consolidation, the enterprises that survive will begin joining highly adaptive business networks. Many businesses will focus on their core specialties, he said.
"The environment is changing and progress relies on better productivity and better products," Kagermann said.
Kagermann's presentation also included a panel discussion with SAP customers -- Home Depot and Colgate-Palmolive Co. -- and SAP partners -- Intel and NetApp. The panel agreed that SAP's new architecture will speed the ability of businesses to get a complete view of their various processes.
"Our business is highly globalizing today," said Tom Greene, vice president of global information technology at Colgate-Palmolive. "ESA gives us the ability to truly run our various businesses as if they truly are one."
Speaking to reporters and analysts after his keynote speech, Kagermann said SAP envisioned a steady transition to an open standards services-based architecture with the rollout of NetWeaver in 2003.
"We're now really licensing the repository and tools to get products to the market faster," Kagermann said.