ERP Stalwarts SAP, J.D. Edwards Tout Integration

SAN MATEO (06/23/2000) - Integration was the byword this past week for SAP AG and J.D. Edwards & Co. as they strove to show how they can link their ERP (enterprise resource planning) applications to e-business front ends through Internet or third-party technologies.

At its TechEd 2000 product technology conference this week in Las Vegas, SAP, based in Walldorf, Germany, unveiled its Application Server as a critical part of its Internet-Business Framework.

By "opening the hood," SAP is clarifying for customers the inner workings of the e-business platform, said Peter Barth, director of corporate marketing for Workplace.

SAP also provided integration specifications for application and presentation layers.

The Application Server incorporates native support for HTTP and HTTPS, Internet document standards such as HTML and XML, and server-side Java scripting. This support will allow Web developers to update Web front ends quickly, without a third-party development toolkit, Barth said.

For the presentation layer, SAP's architecture includes Workplace and its WebFlow workflow software. The application integration layer encompasses SAP's XML-based Business Connectors, gateways to SAP's Business Application Programming Interfaces (BAPIs), Microsoft BizTalk, and the RosettaNet XML standards.

The new application server fills a gap in SAP's infrastructure architecture, said Byron Miller, an analyst at Giga Information Group, based in Cambridge, Mass. "This is aimed at companies with a really strong SAP installation," he said. The server offers Web developers at SAP sites the ability to use JavaScript as well as the Advanced Business Application Programming (ABAP) internal development language of SAP, Miller said.

The Application Server, which will be available the third quarter of this year, is free to customers, Barth said.

To bolster its e-business efforts, J.D. Edwards at its Focus 2000 user conference in Denver last week signed licensing and OEM agreements with middleware player Active Software and the XML-based, business-to-business integration vendor NetFish Technologies, which competes with Active's new owner, webMethods.

The source code that J.D. Edwards will control will serve as the basis for its OneWorld eXtended Process Integration (XPI) initiative, an effort to put J.D.

Edwards' ERP software at the center of an enterprise's e-business strategy, officials at the ERP vendor said.

Active's EAI (enterprise application integration) architecture will be offered to unite applications internally, whereas the NetFish offerings will be used for external links. J.D. Edwards opted to use NetFish's offerings because of its business process orientation, said Dave Girard, executive vice president and COO at J.D. Edwards, based in Denver.

The Active and NetFish software will be resold with J.D. Edwards' OneWorld suite, and the packages will be part of future releases of the OneWorld eXtended enterprise (Xe) software, the OneWorld upgrade slated for a September release.

The SAP and J.D. Edwards efforts differ markedly, said Kimberly Knickle, an analyst at Boston-based AMR Research. SAP's approach lacks the cohesion of J.D.

Edwards' efforts, Knickle said. SAP needs to "fine tune its integration strategy within the Internet-Business Framework," she said.

Knickle went on to say that SAP's work with webMethods is an example of how SAP should narrow the focus of third-party integration products.

"In terms of integration, I think they have it right," Knickle said, referring to J.D. Edwards. "To me, it's a lot more straightforward than what SAP has," she said.

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More about Active SoftwareAMR ResearchGiga Information GroupMicrosoftmySAP.comNetfish TechnologiesOneWorldRosettaNetSAP AustraliaWebMethods Australia

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