An ERP Evolution: HP's Strongest Play in the ERP Space -- Its Relationship with SAP

As the Internet and e-commerce transform business models, users have been looking to ERP vendors to Internet-enable their back-end applications. Although vendors have not wholly succeeded in linking their software to Web applications, there has been progress. Products are maturing to embrace supply chain management and link to front office applications, and new partnerships are forming as major vendors collaborate to fuel the evolution revolution.

As the Internet and e-commerce transform business models, users have been looking to ERP vendors to Internet-enable their back-end applications. The vendors, slow at first to respond to the Internet revolution, have still not wholly succeeded in linking their software to Web applications in realtime.

There has been progress, though, as ERP vendors have unveiled products that embrace supply chain management (SCM) and link their applications to front-office customer relationship _management (CRM) applications. SAP, for example, unveiled mySAP.com early this year. mySAP.com, an e-business initiative focusing on online marketplaces, or exchanges, includes a Web portal and mySAP.com Workplace, which links users to SAP’s suite of ERP applications. Also included is mySAP.com Marketplace, a B2B site for office supplies and services. In June, J.D. Edwards unveiled OneWorldXe, software that allows manufacturers to communicate with vendors and suppliers across the supply chain.

HP’s ERP Approach

HP, which provides infrastructure, integration, data warehousing and business intelligence solutions and support and services for the ERP market, is riding the trend, not talking much about ERP anymore. Instead, it is touting Value Collaboration Networks, customer-centric networks that coordinate all organizations in the supply chain.

Application integration becomes central here, and late last year, HP forged an agreement with BEA Systems to incorporate BEA’s eLink suite of enterprise application integration (EAI) solutions into a newly created HP EAI service portfolio. HP also arranged with BEA to integrate HP Changengine, a business process management system, with the eLink suite. The integration is designed to give users a means of using information from different parts of their operations and defining the flow of business processes across diverse applications, such as existing CRM and ERP systems.

In mid-June, HP introduced an e-intelligence solution that focuses on integration of data. Called HP E-VUE, the solution, designed to give businesses an integrated view of data across the enterprise, is intended to promote a real-time, panoramic, single customer view – a goal desperately sought after in the CRM space. E-VUE links internal and external data sources via a "virtual" data warehouse, enables complicated B2B transactions, and is employed through e-speak, HP’s open platform for creating e-services.

For CRM environments, E-VUE enables companies to view customer behavior, modify the sales process in realtime and adapt internal business models to shifting customer requirements. For ERP, E-VUE provides an integrated product view so that companies can rapidly integrate new suppliers into a B2B chain.

Of course, HP’s big play in the ERP space is its infrastructure, primarily its UNIX and Windows servers. HP also offers "Infrastructure-on-Tap," targeted initially at B2B hubs and based on the company’s Internet computing utility model. With Infrastructure-on-Tap, HP provides all the infrastructure needed for e-business from HP data centers, charging customers a fee based on usage. HP’s partner and first customer for the solution, Lawson, uses it to power its ijob electronic recruiting service. In mid-June, HP and Lawson extended their Infrastructure-on-Tap agreement by enhancing the Lawson ijob e-recruitment service to give businesses an "always-on," wireless-enabled e-service. The addition of wireless to ijob is intended to improve candidate and recruiter relationships, automate information delivery and speed time to hire.

SAP Collaboration

HP collaborates with all the major ERP vendors – SAP, Oracle, PeopleSoft, J.D. Edwards, and so on – to integrate their offerings with HP computing systems. Nevertheless, HP’s strongest and broadest relationship is with SAP. The two companies have collaborated on output management for SAP solutions, high-availability solutions specific to SAP applications, integration of the HP OpenView enterprise management suite with SAP, and a fast-start deployment of SAP applications.

The HP, SAP relationship is more than a decade old, dating back to 1989, when the two companies began collaborating to bring the first-ever client/server SAP implementation to the marketplace. In 1992, the first SAP R/3 customer went live on HP-UX, and in 1999, HP-UX was the first major 64-bit operating system to be supported by SAP. Today, the majority of users running R/3 on UNIX are HP-UX users. SAP solutions also run on HP’s Windows NT-based systems. Today, there are more than 7,000 SAP installations on HP-UX and HP NT servers worldwide.

In 1994, HP established global SAP R/3 consulting and outsourcing services to implement both customized and off-the-shelf solutions based on R/3. And by late 1999, HP and SAP unveiled plans to align their Internet strategies through reciprocal support for mySAP.com and HP’s e-services strategy. The two companies have established a joint solution center in Walldorf, Germany, to serve as headquarters for joint Internet solutions, proof-of-concept methodology development, and performance tests of SAP solutions.

In 1999, HP and SAP announced they were jointly developing and delivering solutions under the HP 5 nines: 5 minutes alliance. SAP was the first application vendor to join the alliance.

Further supporting high availability in SAP environments, HP has introduced HP Somersault, software that eliminates the Enqueue Service, a critical component of every SAP installation, as the single point of failure in HP-UX or NT environments. HP Somersault mirrors the Enqueue Service and ensures its continuous operation if it is disabled by a system failure or operator error.

SAP complements Somersault with its SAP Business Technology Map, a guide for managing SAP solutions. HP and SAP jointly developed the high availability view of this map to provide an overview of the specific products, services and support available from both SAP and HP.

HP’s clustering solution, MC/ServiceGuard, also has been tested for SAP, and HP now offers an MC/ServiceGuard Extension for SAP. The Extension is a suite of tools that manage the behavior of SAP in the event of a database failure.

Integration with OpenView

HP also offers products that tightly integrate its OpenView enterprise management suite with mySAP.com. The products, including HP OpenView Manager for SAP R/3 and HP OpenView SMART Plug-In for SAP R/3, are designed to help IT better manage the performance and availability of SAP R/3 applications.

This year, HP unveiled an advanced version of OpenView VantagePoint SMART Plug-In for SAP R/3. Combined with HP OpenView VantagePoint Manager, the integrated solution is tuned to manage both R/3 and mySAP.com mission-critical, B2B environments. The solution manages from the SAP applications and database, including servers, desktops, networks and hardware and manages across functional disciplines, such as availability and operations, as well as conducting performance monitoring and analysis.

In June, HP announced a product that integrates SAP and OpenView to provide additional insights into SAP transactions. Called OpenView VantagePoint SAP Business Transaction Observer, the product gives IT information on the impact of SAP transactions on volume and usage patterns at the application layer.

Output Management

HP and SAP recently announced that they are collaborating on the development of output-management and information delivery software for SAP customers. The product will be branded as HP’s output-management solution for R/3 and will be sold by HP’s worldwide sales force. The development efforts will focus on output distribution, spooling, Web-based information delivery and electronic forms.

The output-management solution owes much to software from Dazel, a company HP acquired last year. Dazel software takes input from different sources, searches through it for the content needed by a user, and then sends it to the user in the required format.

Integration Services

Last year, HP unveiled HP Rapid/WEB, the first set of integration services designed to link R/3 with the Internet. Rapid/WEB includes personalization services for creating a one-on-one Web storefront and makes use of HP’s e-speak technology to allow users to conduct SAP transactions over the Web. HP also offers optional Internet integration products, including implementation services for secure Web services and Changengine, business process management software, which orchestrates the flow of business throughout an enterprise.

HP augments Rapid/WEB with Systems Performance Check for Windows NT in SAP Environments and HP Network Performance Assessment for SAP Environments. These services give users the ability to fine-tune their networks to optimize performance and integrate SAP’s EarlyWatch and GoingLive with HP’s NT consulting and multivendor network support.

To shorten the time for installation of mySAP.com Workplace in existing R/3 environments, the SAP enterprise portal solution, HP offers the SAP Ready-to-Run Workplace Server and R/3 implementation program. HP claims that this implementation program reduces standard installation time for mySAP.com Workplace Server from weeks to days.

HP and SAP also announced a fast-start implementation program for e-commerce Starter Pack, SAP’s turnkey solution for users engaging in e-commerce. The Starter Pack gives users access to new Web-based capabilities, such as e-procurement.

Support Offerings

HP’s mission-critical services for SAP include business-critical support for both UNIX and NT environments, Business Continuity Support and Business-recovery Services for SAP.

HP packages its business-critical support for R/3 running in UNIX environments as HP Critical Systems Support for SAP R/3. This level of support provides users with immediate access and response from an HP support team, priority system recovery with a maximum six-hour hardware call-to-repair commitment, and assistance from R/3 experts to prevent unplanned downtime.

HP provides equivalent support for NT in SAP environments, including the hardware call-to-repair commitment, around-the-clock priority recovery, proactive prevention and managed change.

HP’s Business Continuity Support, HP’s most comprehensive support offering for SAP users, ensures that users meet service level obligations to business units. The support offering is modularized so that users can tailor it to meet their specific needs.

HP’s Business-recovery Services for SAP helps users recover from disasters by providing alternative sites worldwide from which users can run their R/3 applications, while their site is being restored. The alternative sites include fully configured systems. Other services include business-recovery planning, training and rehearsals; express shipment of replacement equipment; and mobile recovery centers