Cisco, Intel embrace SAP's services platform

Several big-name companies, including Adobe Systems Inc., Cisco Systems Inc. and Intel Corp., have agreed to embrace SAP AG's new service-oriented architecture (SOA) platform, the German business applications vendor is expected to announce Wednesday at its Sapphire user event in Boston. The deals follow separate agreements reached last month with IBM Corp., Macromedia Inc. and Microsoft Corp.

In 2003, SAP launched its own SOA technology called Enterprise Services Architecture (ESA). The technology uses Web services and SAP's own NetWeaver middleware and integration platform to enable users to craft business processes over heterogeneous applications.

The new ESA partners, including other companies such as Computer Associates International Inc., EMC Corp, Mercury Interactive Corp., Symantec Corp. and Veritas Software Corp., will license the technology to optimize their products to run SAP applications.

"By aligning with various players in the IT ecosystem, we aim to move applications right down the technology stack," said SAP spokesman Bill Wohl. "We want to make their systems -- whether networking or data management systems or whatever -- more 'application aware.'"

One example of the way the technology partnership could work is with a Cisco router, according to Wohl. The router, he said, could be designed to recognize certain functions in SAP's ERP (enterprise resource planning) software, such as the financial function "order to cash," and automatically track or route sensitive financial data to and from designated locations.

Last month in Copenhagen, SAP announced an ESA-related deal with Microsoft. Under the deal, the two companies plan to deliver a jointly developed product later this year that links SAP's ERP software and Microsoft's Office products. The product, code-named Mendocino, is the first joint product from SAP and Microsoft and will be demonstrated at the Boston user event.

Also last month in Copenhagen, IBM unveiled a version of its DB2 Universal Database that is optimized for customers running SAP applications. The two companies have integrated new features into the latest version of DB2, 8.2.2, to make configuration easier and improve overall performance.

By agreeing to license ESA, SAP partners receive early access to the software vendor's catalog of technical information on enterprise services, as well as the tools and the capabilities to work such development information as data schemes, user interfaces, application models and security features necessary for the automation of business processes.

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