SAN FRANCISCO (06/14/2000) - Hewlett-Packard Co. and German applications vendor SAP AG announced Wednesday that they will collaborate on the development of output-management and information-delivery software for SAP customers. The move is an expansion of a 10-year existing relationship between the two companies, with an HP output-management product planned for the third quarter of this year.
Output management is the way an application handles the output of data, including sending the information to a printer or a fax machine or publishing it on the Web.
HP and SAP made the development announcement Wednesday at SAP's Sapphire user conference taking place in Las Vegas this week. The product will be branded as HP's output-management solution for SAP's R/3 and be sold by HP's worldwide sales force, according to Bill Bock, vice president and general manager of HP's services and solutions business unit.
Analysts have previously identified output management as something of a weak spot in SAP's R/3 ERP (enterprise resource planning) software suite. "R/3 has a relatively limited predefined number of reports and ways to collect, process and put out the data," Rich Ptak, vice president of system and application management at Hurwitz Group Inc., based in Framingham, Massachusetts, said in a phone interview Wednesday.
The key ingredient enabling HP and SAP to improve that situation is the technology HP acquired last year through the purchase of Austin, Texas-based output-management specialist and market leader Dazel Corp., HP's Bock said.
Dazel can take input from multiple sources, search through it for the content a user needs and then send it to the user in the output they require, Ptak at Hurwitz said.
Although Dazel was a long-term partner of SAP, the ERP vendor hadn't felt "comfortable" about entering into a more significant relationship with a company of its small size, Bock said. With HP as Dazel's corporate parent and HP's global reach, SAP now feels confident about working together on interfacing Dazel and R/3, he added. HP engineers will be working at SAP's headquarters in Walldorf, Germany, to ensure tight technical integration between the two technologies, according to Bock.
At the moment, SAP has four engineers working on the integration, according to Michael Schuster, programs director for mySAP.com infrastructure management, speaking in a phone interview Wednesday. Partnering with HP was more a matter of enabling customers with existing output management software to "reuse what they already had," rather than R/3 being weak on that particular functionality, according to Schuster.
In their development efforts, HP and SAP will focus on four key areas -- output distribution, spooling, Web-based information delivery and electronic forms.
The relationship is "non-exclusive in either direction," meaning that HP is free to offer its output-management software to other application vendors and that SAP can partner with other output-management specialists, HP's Bock said.
Since acquiring Dazel last year, HP has increased headcount at the unit by 30 to 40 percent and has raised the operation's international profile. A month ago, HP released new technology in the document management area. "We're capitalizing on our investment," Bock said.
When the HP output management product for R/3 debuts in the third quarter of this year, it will support SAP's mySAP.com Net business software and will enable the use of electronic forms.
Schuster characterized mySAP.com as the bringing together of all of the company's software online including its ERP, CRM (customer relationship management) and SCM (supply chain management) software. MySAP.com will increase the need for exchanging documents, both between different SAP components and between SAP and non-SAP components, he said.
More specific information on the HP software including configuration, pricing and a product road map will appear around the time of product delivery, Bock said.
HP, based in Palo Alto, California, can be reached at +1-650-857-1501 or via the Internet at http://www.hp.com/. SAP, in Walldorf, Germany, can be reached at +49-6227-74-7474 or via the Internet at http://www.sap.com/.