SAP is to open up its monolithic R/3 ERP system to a wider group of programmers by adding a JVM to the core product. Programmers at corporate IT departments currently can build interfaces to R/3 enterprise resource planning applications with SAP's proprietary ABAP (Advanced Business Application Programming) language. Support for Java would give them a second option, said Peter Graf, director of technology marketing at SAP. "It seems it is difficult for some people to find ABAP developers," Graf said. Enabling programmers to write Java code for R/3 won't necessarily make developing in the R/3 environment easier, said David Dobrin, an analyst at research firm Benchmarking Partners. ABAP, while not as widely known as Java, is designed specifically for R/3. "Occasionally, something special comes up that ABAP wasn't designed to do, and in that case Java is more flexible," Dobrin said. "It will be useful to take advantage of new technologies (but) it isn't going to suddenly make ABAP irrelevant." SAP would not say when a version of R/3 with the integrated JVM (Java virtual machine) will be available, only that the company is headed in that direction. SAP is also to add support for OLE DB, an interface for accessing data in a variety of servers, to its Business Information Warehouse later this year.
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