SAP touts NetWeaver enhancements

Looking to penetrate further into the software infrastructure market, applications vendor SAP is rolling out a new set of Java and business intelligence enhancements to its NetWeaver middleware and integration stack.

This week at the SAP TechEd 2004 developer conference in San Diego, the company announced that it has added new capabilities in NetWeaver to boost the reliability of Java-based SAP applications. To do this, it added a lockdown feature that prevents any given user from breaking the session of another user tapping into the same Java virtual machine, said Peter Graf, senior vice president of collaborative solutions.

"What it means from a user perspective is that the system doesn't crash," Graf said. "We've taken the reliability of SAP and made that capability available in Java." The feature has been coded as a standard Java feature and won't be proprietary, he said.

SAP will also roll out an enhanced version of its master data management framework to help developers model programs that automatically consolidate, cleanse and distribute widespread types of data for use throughout an enterprise, said Graf. Until now, customers relied on one master data model for customer information and another for suppliers. Now, disparate data can be collapsed on a single system without using multiple vendors and applications, SAP said.

In addition, SAP in the fourth quarter will add a global data synchronization tool optimized for the retail and consumer products industries.

To speed up the quest for data, the company has also beefed up the query capabilities in NetWeaver, using advanced search-engine, grid computing and other technologies to boost response times by as much a thousandfold.

The most significant enhancement is the improvement in synchronization capabilities, said David Dobrin, an analyst at Cambridge, Mass.-based consultancy B2B Analysts. He called synchronization "terribly important" for companies planning to establish supply chain systems based on radio frequency identification or managing inventory in consumer packaged goods or retail companies.

Given the fact SAP has many consumer packaged goods customers, "anything they can do for them in this area will be welcomed as a step, however small, in the right direction," Dobrin said.

All these capabilities will be available in the next version of NetWeaver, due for shipment in 2005.

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