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Microsoft, SAP Partnership Deepens

Microsoft and SAP AG extended their ten-year-old partnership with a plan to better integrate their platforms as the world of enterprise software moves toward Web services .

The two companies detailed a road map for deeper integration between Microsoft .NET and SAP NetWeaver. They'll develop software toolkits and other tools that will let Visual Studio .Net developers build SAP applications and increase interoperability between SAP products and Microsoft Office. Almost two-thirds of all new SAP installations are deployed on Microsoft Windows, according to the companies, with more than 40,000 installations running on Windows.

"They are without a doubt one of largest and most important ISVs on the planet, and we have a lot of mutual customers," said Adam Sohn, a product manager in Microsoft's platform strategies group.

Sohn said that while technology shifts to a more connected world via Web services, most enterprises have investments in different platforms, with legacy systems and applications from a variety of vendors. "Customers say they're still doing too much integration work themselves and would like a much deeper level of integration," Sohn said. "Customers say, 'We get the dream of Web services, you guys have to help us get there.'"

To that end, the two companies will work to let developers build extensions to SAP using Microsoft's visual tools. SAP will begin a beta program for Enterprise Portal SDK for Microsoft .NET this summer, to eventually let ASP.NET programmers develop SAP Enterprise Portal applications and services. By August, SAP will provide a new version of its SAP .NET Connector, with enhances support for Visual Basic .Net and better integration with Visual Studio .NET. SAP also will joint the Visual Studio Industry Partner (VSIP) program.

The two companies will co-market SAP implementations on the Microsoft platform. To that end, the two companies will cross-license technology.

The next version of SAP NetWeaver will provide native support for advanced Web services protocols, enabling interoperability with Microsoft BizTalk Server, and it will support Microsoft smart client technology.

Sohn said the partnership will continue into the next generation of both companies' products, centering on Microsoft's Smart Client technology. "In the future, all that smart client stuff will evolve as the Windows platform evolves," he said. "SAP will be right in there, helping [Microsoft] developers making the move to Longhorn," by providing sample code and other technology to assure interoperability.