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SAP Add-Ons Aim to Simplify BPM for NetWeaver

SAP (NASDAQ: SAP) is aiming to make it easier for companies to quickly create and modify business processes with two new enhancements for its NetWeaver Web-based open integration and application platform.

The add-ons, SAP NetWeaver Business Process Management (BPM) and SAP NetWeaver Business Rules Management, are designed to help business process experts design, model and immediately execute new or adapted business processes without having to develop code, SAP said.

The announcement came during SAP's Sapphire 2008 international customer conference this week in Orlando, Fl. SAP previously announced NetWeaver BPM at SAPPHIRE 07.

The two will be available to ramp-up customers in the third quarter of the year, and are scheduled for general availability as part of SAP's NetWeaver Composition Environment enhancement package, slated for early 2009.

The new releases continue moves by the software giant to focus on service-oriented architecture (SOA), an initiative first unveiled in 2006, and one of the four areas the company pledged to enhance to simplify application deployment.

SAP is also aiming to build on a growing business for the company, which claims almost 39,000 total SAP NetWeaver deployments, which together delivered more than 100 percent revenue growth for the unit last year.

As a part of its effort to push SOA into the enterprise, SAP's NetWeaver BPM -- previously known by its codename, "Project Galaxy" -- is meant to provide customers with a standard environment to implement and manage complex business processes.

Ideally, it can help them harmonize IT architecture and business processes, thereby simplifying the task of implementing an SOA environment.

For instance, NetWeaver BPM's unified modeling capabilities mean that a single version of a business process will be available throughout an enterprise, and its users will be able to edit it and make changes without losing details in translation.

Additionally, NetWeaver BPM's Enterprise Services Repository will help enterprises track, identify and reuse ready-made process steps for both SAP and non-SAP applications.

The repository provides access to more than 1,000 productized enterprise services for rapid innovation as co-defined by SAP, its partners and its customers. It comes with business process models and business object models as well as Web service definitions.

NetWeaver BPM is built around three major capabilities: A process composer, a process server, and a process desk.

The process composer will model business processes based on the business process modeling notation (BPMN) standard, which it ties into the Eclipse development framework along with a rules composer tool for modeling business rules.

The process server, based on Java Enterprise Edition, will directly execute process models without translations between the model and code. Meanwhile, the process desk -- the interface between the participants in a process and their assigned tasks -- allows interaction with other participants and with running process instances through forms, interactive screens and collaboration tasks.

SAP's second new add-in, NetWeaver Business Rules Management, is designed to further help organize and manipulate business processes.

Combined with NetWeaver BPM, Business Rules Management can enable enterprises to redefine rules by editing decision tables, directly impacting the execution of composite processes.

Enterprises will be able to do the editing in a single interface instead of having to use several tools, SAP said.

The Business Rules Management add-on is built on Quickrules technology from Yasu Technologies, which SAP acquired last year.