SAP appears to have listened to industry criticism with a series of initiatives this week to try to make its R/3 applications suite easier to customise and integrate with third party packages.
At its TechEd developers conference in Los Angeles, the supplier said it was adding new Business Application Programming Interfaces (BAPIs) to R/3 so it could hook into third party groupware, telephony and mobile computing packages.
It also plans to support the increasingly popular Extensible Markup Language (XML) from the start of next year to make it easier for compliant applications to swap data. XML will become the standard data interchange format across SAP?s Business Framework, be supported at the BAPI level and form the basis of "numerous products".
Support for widely used development tools such as IBM's Visual Age for Java and Microsoft?s Visual Studio suite was likewise introduced, so that users will have alternatives to SAP?s own Abap third generation language when wanting to customise R/3. The tools will be able to access all of SAP?s business objects and BAPIs.
But Hewlett-Packard (HP) was also at TechEd to announce it had tweaked HP/UX to improve application performance. Version 11.0 of the Unix operating system includes "memory windows", which enable users to boost the performance of memory intensive packages without having to touch the application code.
HP claimed this could reduce the number of SAP servers from 10 to one in some cases, while its new Process Resource Manager software for looking after application delivery service levels could be used to manage growing numbers of SAP installations within the enterprise.
Not to be outdone, Microsoft also announced it was helping to make the management of SAP packages easier. Windows NT will now include a single sign-on mechanism with R/3, which will also support the Microsoft Security Support Provider Interface and the Microsoft Management Console. This will enable systems administrators to look after R/3 via the NT systems management interface.
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