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SAP Rolls Out Updates at Sapphire

In a bid to turn the spotlight from its competitors and onto its products, enterprise software provider SAP Tuesday used its Sapphire '03 conference in Orlando, Fla. to unveil a series of new products and enhancements.

During a press conference, SAP CEO and Chairman Henning Kagermann said SAP's competitors are moving to consolidate from the bottom as a defensive move, and it will not change SAP's strategy.

Kagermann's comments came amid an escalating struggle unfolding among its rivals Oracle , which is seeking to acquire PeopleSoft , and PeopleSoft's intended merger partner J.D. Edwards .

"I feel that, in our industry, it's more important than ever about trust," Kagermann said. "It's about the ability to deliver on commitments and understand the constraints of clients. We have a clear strategy at SAP and we don't want to buy market share. We are not changing our strategy just because something happens that is not really so important."

Key to that strategy is helping customers to slash operational total cost of ownership (TCO) and focus resources on innovation rather than operation. To that end, the company is collaborating with hardware partners to leverage its SAP NetWeaver integration and application platform on blade servers and virtual servers, giving customers the ability to dynamically manage demand and improve the efficiency of technology resources.

The new features within NetWeaver, such as shared services and service virtualization, decouple services from their assignments to specific physical servers and dynamically re-assigns them to the best-performing hardware, according to the company. SAP pointed to tests at Hella KG, manufacturer of lighting technology and electronics for the automotive industry, which utilizes SAP solutions running on Fujitsu-Siemens blade servers and storage systems from Network Appliance. SAP said Hella was able to use the technology to cut its operational expenses by 30 percent.

"The cost-reducing breakthrough of SAP business solutions on blade servers validates our forward-looking, strategic design of SAP NetWeaver," said Peter Zencke, executive board member of SAP. "The unique ability of SAP's underlying architecture to dynamically allocate resources to blade servers on demand can also be applied to other hardware platforms, thus leveraging existing investments."

NetWeaver, unveiled in January, is also being used by SAP as the foundation of the new versions of its mySAP Customer Relationship Management (mySAP CRM) and mySAP Supply Chain Management (mySAP SCM) offerings, also unveiled Tuesday.

mySAP CRM uses NetWeaver to enable multichannel interaction processes to enhance analytics, marketing, sales and service functionality. The new version of CRM is intended to offer an easy upgrade path for existing customers with a modular approach for incremental implementation.

The product also includes industry-specific processes for a multitude of industries, including: automotive; chemicals and pharmaceuticals; engineering, construction and operations; consumer goods; high tech; industrial machinery and components; leasing; media and entertainment; oil and gas; professional services; public sector; retail; telecommunications; and utilities.

Kagermann said SAP has committed to becoming a market leader in the CRM space by the end of the year.

The new version of mySAP SCM, also powered by NetWeaver, is intended to provide customers with collaborative end-to-end business scenarios, including vendor-managed inventory (VMI), supplier-managed inventory (SMI) and trade promotion management (TPM). It adds a new feature in the form of SAP Inventory Collaboration Hub (SAP ICH), a Web-based offering which allows companies and their suppliers to collaborate on inventory management and replenishment needs.

The firm also came out in support of its play for the mid-market, expanding a joint marketing alliance with IBM, under which IBM and a "network of select business partners" will offer mySAP All-in-One solutions to small- to medium-sized businesses around the world. Through its consulting services, IBM and its partners will help SMBs install SAP's software. SAP will support the efforts with the development of SAP Business One software for SMBs, intended to run on DB2 Express, a stripped-down version of IBM's database software. SAP said the solution would be available in first quarter 2004.

In a further sign of how SAP, traditionally seen as a tier-one Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) application provider, is tackling the mid-market, the company also unveiled a deal between its SAP America subsidiary and BearingPoint , under which the firms will market a pre-packaged mySAP All-in-One solution for the SMB high tech electronic device industry. Hewlett-Packard will be the primary hardware provider for the pre-configured solution, while SAP partner Crystal Decisions will provide software for Web-based reporting and information delivery.

"This is an exciting, innovative offering for the small and midsize business market," said Rand Blazer, chairman and CEO of BearingPoint. "Our solution effectively supports the complete business cycle, yet is simple, fast, easy to use, and cost-effective while delivering benefits offered by the largest companies."