The SAP Partnering Strategy: Keep Disparate Friends Close

Keep your friends close and your partners closer, as it were.

Keep your friends close and your partners closer. Such appears to be the partnering strategy for ERP giant SAP, which recently announced a new effort with fellow software titan Microsoft to help optimize SQL Server 2005 for the SAP Business Suite. The duo’s newest project builds on their collaboration in Duet, which got a major shot in the arm at SAP’s April SAPPHIRE user confab, where the ERP giant and Microsoft, along with hardware partner Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP), unveiled a new Duet appliance that connects Microsoft Office applications to SAP business processes.

Since it went live last year, SAP and Microsoft claim to have sold more than 400,000 Duet licenses. The partners say they expect that last month’s SQL Server 2005 announcement will help generate even more traction for Duet. The idea, officials say, is to make it easier for joint SAP and Microsoft customers to transition to SQL Server 2005 and the SAP Business Suite. To that end, SAP and Microsoft plan to open up a lab in Walldorf, Germany to pursue the ins and outs of SAP-Business-Suite-on-SQL-Server-2005 optimization.

With several years of collaboration on Duet behind them, and with a history of cooperation that—both companies claim—stretches back 15 years, SAP and Microsoft look to be starry-eyed lovers.

"For a large number of our joint customers, Microsoft and SAP are strategic vendors and customers expect interoperability between our products," said Klaus Kreplin, head of NetWeaver Technology with SAP, in a statement. "By developing an offering that will allow our customers to optimize Microsoft SQL Server for SAP NetWeaver and the SAP Business Suite, in addition to tools that enable a quick migration from other databases, SAP and Microsoft are pushing enterprise solutions forward in exciting new ways, enabling customers to harness the power and flexibility of enterprise SOA."

Starry-eyed or no, SAP isn’t entirely monogamous when it comes to partnering with other vendors—or Microsoft competitors, for that matter. Also last month, the ERP giant expanded its relationship with Novell to promote SAP applications running on SuSE Linux Enterprise Server.

The idea, once again, is to make SAP a more SuSE-friendly play. SAP and Novell say the arrangement benefits customers by improving customer support (customers have one point of entry—or throat to choke—to resolve support issues), reducing complexity, and lowering TCO. Dubbed "SUSE Linux Enterprise Server Priority Support" for SAP, the combined offering is available as a maintenance and support package provided by Novell.

It will be integrated—via SAP’s Solution Manager application management solution—into SAP’s global support backbone, officials said. What’s more, SAP and Novell pledged to further optimize SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for a range of SAP technologies, including SAP NetWeaver and SAP Business Suite.

"SAP has a long-standing commitment to the open source community, including working with key technical standards organizations to create interoperability with commercial software," said SAP executive board member Gerhard Oswald, in a statement. "Our agreement with Novell makes it truly possible for companies to get long-term support and maintenance when deploying SAP applications on Linux, and continues to illustrate the openness and flexibility of business process platforms enabled by SAP and focused on the business and technical standards that drive business process agility and innovation."

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.