SAP Gets a Hit of Java

Announcing a transition to open standards, SAP AGsaid yesterday its new MySAP products will support the J2EE Java specification.The company sees this as a step toward full support for Web Services andinteroperability.

In the past, SAP products have relied on theproprietary ABAP language for business logic and glue code. With yesterday’sannouncement, SAP will now support J2EE and ABAP on an equal footing in itsapplications.

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

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

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

One reason Plattner says a common platform is usefulfor enterprises is Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Enterprises frequently needto create connections between applications that let them share data, and whenthese connections must be written on a case-by-case basis, it becomes veryexpensive. Plattner said maintaining these connections constitutes a huge chunkof 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 withpartners, particularly partners who do not use SAP products.

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