Moving Applications Online with mySAP.com
Developers who are moving SAP applications online are getting a helping hand from SAP AG (www.sap.com
). SAP's recently announced mySAP.com Application Server provides an infrastructure for creating dynamic and collaborative Web applications in the same manner as other leading application servers on the market.
The sole mission of SAP's product is to Web-enable SAP applications and boost its Internet initiatives, not to compete with existing Web application servers on the market, says Peter Barth, director of corporate communications for mySAP.com technology. "We're not entering the tool market with a mySAP.com Application Server," he says.
In fact, the new mySAP.com Application Server can be used as a stand-alone tool for developing Web applications. It integrates with existing technologies such as Microsoft Windows DNA and IBM WebSphere, Barth says. "Customers already using WebSphere will probably stay with WebSphere. However, customers that want to integrate data from other systems without leaving the SAP environment may not want to invest in a new application server infrastructure. You don't have to install whatever new application server infrastructure, if you want to give your Web developers something for building dynamically changing applications."
The new application server -- which builds upon a previous version -- adds a critical component piece to SAP's fledgling Internet strategy. "In the last year, SAP has made mySAP.com the center of its development and marketing activities," says Jim Cordes, senior research analyst for Robert Frances Group Inc. (www.rfgonline.com). While SAP's message was confusing, the Web capabilities are moving the ERP giant in the right direction, he notes. "Successful e-business architectures and strategies are in the formative stage, but are rapidly evolving. SAP's mySAP.com vision has all the right pieces, but it's too early to tell if SAP and its partners can bring it all together."
One common application being built off SAP's application server is a dynamic pricing program that can be accessed by external trading partners in an online community, Barth says. "A dynamic pricing application will have very special rules that you have for your particular industry," he explains. Tools such as SAP's application server let developers "reuse existing master data that's coming from existing systems, and add a very nice presentation logic for it, based on individual pricing rules."
The open-integration capabilities in the mySAP.com Application Server allow access to real-time and cached data in existing business applications. Caching ensures up-to-date access to data without affecting existing applications.
In an era of rapidly changing presentation design and interaction requirements for e-business, "Most Web applications require a flexible programming model," says Michael Barnes, program director at Meta Group Inc. (www.metagroup.com). "MySAP.com Application Server provides a platform for extending SAP functionality to the Web while allowing organizations to leverage SAP expertise within the organization."