At TechEd, SAP Supports J2EE, Open Standards

Announcing a transition to open standards, SAP AG said yesterday its new MySAP products will support the J2EE specification. The company sees this as a step toward full support for Web services and interoperability.

In the past, SAP products have relied on the proprietary ABAP language for business logic and glue code. With yesterday’s announcement, SAP will now support J2EE and ABAP on an equal footing in its applications.

SAP is a giant in the ERP market, and its announcement to go with Java represents a huge hit to Microsoft Corp. and its .NET strategy. One of the better articulated components of the .NET strategy is the use of XML and C# as platforms for enterprise integration.

While XML and Java are not mutually exclusive technologies, a battle is brewing between using XML technologies and J2EE as a core platform for integration. J2EE already has a great deal of traction in the enterprise market, and SAP’s announcement can only add momentum.

Speaking at SAP TechEd 2001 in Los Angeles, SAP CEO and co-founder Hasso Plattner, outlined reasons the company was Java-fying MySAP. SAP believes Java provides a common platform for uniting applications, while ABAP does not.

One reason Plattner says a common platform is useful for enterprises is Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Enterprises frequently need to create connections between applications that let them share data, and when these connections must be written on a case-by-case basis, it becomes very expensive. Plattner said maintaining these connections constitutes a huge chunk of an application’s maintenance cost.

A second reason SAP decided to support Java is interoperability. “Business processes do not necessarily stop at the boundary of the company,” Plattner says. With Java, companies can more easily integrate applications with partners, particularly partners who do not use SAP products.

The solution relies on three components, each of which must integrate with the other. The application servers pull data to help businesses better understand their needs. The portal is the front end for end users to see data. Finally exchanges trade data between applications to allow a holistic view of the business. The interactions between these components can be accomplished with ABAP and, now, J2EE.

About the Author

Chris McConnell is Product and Technology Editor for Enterprise Systems.