'Multiple waves' of Duet integration scenarios coming

Once Duet appears in June, Microsoft and SAP will release a steady stream of additional integration functionality, dubbed "scenarios."

Once their combined Duet software launches in June, Microsoft and SAP plan to issue regular releases of additional integration capabilities dubbed "scenarios," with each release targeted around a specific area of a corporation's operations, executives from the two companies said Tuesday.

Formerly known as Project Mendocino, Duet for Microsoft Office and SAP will enable users to access data and processes from SAP's back-end business applications via Microsoft's front-end desktop Office software suite.

"There will be multiple waves of scenarios," Shai Agassi, president of SAP's product and technology group, said on a Tuesday conference call.

Initially, Duet will ship in June with four business scenarios focused on the individual worker in the areas of time, leave and organization management as well as budget monitoring, integrating Office with SAP's ERP (enterprise resource planning) software.

Two value packs with additional scenarios will appear in the third calendar quarter of this year and early in the fourth quarter, respectively, according to Agassi. The first pack will focus on organization management, while the second will have hooks into SAP's CRM (customer relationship management) software, he said.

Future scenarios will include supply relationship management, process management and planning for manufacturing. Agassi didn't comment on whether vertical scenarios for specific industries might also be forthcoming.

Microsoft and SAP are planning to release development tools so that third parties can create their own Duet scenarios, according to Agassi. But the vendors have not yet decided on a release timetable for the tools, he said.

The likely upside for SAP in having Office function as a front-end to its applications is "huge," Agassi said, predicting a four-fold potential growth increase in the use of SAP's software among corporations.

When SAP first announced Project Mendocino in April 2005, the company referred to it as the first joint product with Microsoft. When asked whether Duet is indeed the first of several joint offerings from SAP and Microsoft, Agassi said, "We'll see how well it takes off." Should Duet generate great returns, SAP may look at other joint developed offerings, he added.

Both Agassi and Jeff Raikes, president of Microsoft's business division, declined to provide any details on likely pricing for Duet or specifics on their respective cost and revenue sharing around the product.

The first early release of Duet was shipped to about 40 customers and 10 partners in December 2005, according to Agassi. This week, the second early release of Duet is going out to an additional 40 customers and 10 partners. The only customers Raikes would name were technology vendor Atmel and Infosys.

Raikes dismissed any potential conflict between the Duet tie-up with SAP and Microsoft's own stable of Dynamics ERP and CRM software, positioning SAP as enterprise software and Dynamics as an offering for midsized users.

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