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SAP's Agassi shifts focus to composites

SAP executive board member Shai Agassi called SAP's plan to service-enable its entire suite on track, and pledged to develop over 1,000 composite applications by the end of 2006.

LAS VEGAS -- SAP's broad plan to service-enable its entire business suite and roll out hundreds of composite applications is a year ahead of schedule, according to SAP executive board member Shai Agassi.

Speaking to industry analysts at a summit SAP held to present its strategy moving forward, Agassi said SAP could have the bulk of its application software service-enabled by the end of 2006. Furthermore, 1,000 composite applications could be available to customers by 2007, he said.

"We've shifted NetWeaver from an integration platform into a composition platform," Agassi said. "We're going to unite analytics, transactions and collaboration into a single process flow."

Agassi called Web services and service-oriented architectures (SOAs) a part of a fundamental shift in the way companies buy software and build out an architecture.

"Companies need to begin by internalizing how they plan to do business going forward," he said. "Down the road, we do not believe there will be three-letter acronyms to software implementations. We believe companies will buy suites."

Composite applications, which SAP calls xApps, draw data from several sources to solve a specific business problem, and they will be easy to deploy and are worth the investment, Agassi said. SAP plans to make xApp development easy for business managers to develop in-house and deploy, or they can be purchased directly from SAP or an independent software vendor.

Currently, more than 150 xApps are available to customers, including more than 100 analytic applications and 50 productivity applications, Agassi said.

SAP's goal has been to shift a significant amount of revenue growth from its core ERP business suite to the analytical and composite applications generated from partners and independent software vendors on its NetWeaver platform.

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SAP executives have said the company's Enterprise Services Architecture, which is the result of the transition of NetWeaver to a business process platform supporting Web services, will be key to SAP's business model. SAP is developing a collection of enterprise services that will define the semantics such as the objects and messages that pass between SAP and non-SAP systems, Agassi said.

"More than a third of our application folks and half of our research and development is invested into taking our existing infrastructure and code and parse it into this methodology so we can produce these types of blueprints," he said.

SAP still hasn't said how it will address its licensing policies with n SOA. It's possible that two or more services could overlap and so far no policy addresses the issue, said Ray Wang, a senior analyst at Forrester Research Inc.

Wang recently conducted a license study that cited SAP as having the most simplified licensing and pricing policies.

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