SAP pours Java into ERP mix

ERP vendor SAP AG has offered a significant endorsement to the Java programming language, making it an equal partner with the company’s legacy ABAP programming language in the application architecture.

Via, the company hopes to help users address issues with application integration by linking applications and services via a collaborative Web infrastructure.

SAP detailed the plans at its TechEd 2001 technical conference in Los Angeles last month.

Key to SAP’s plans is to support its technologies in the Java programming environment. Recognizing the industry acceptance of Java, the company will submit its Java-based technologies to Java standards bodies, according to Hasso Plattner, CEO, co-chairman, and co-founder of Walldorf, Germany-based SAP.

“This is the core of the announcement – basically that we can offer Java next to ABAP” for application development, Plattner said.

A linchpin of SAP’s Java support is the addition of Java functionality within a new version of the SAP Web Application Server due next spring. This will be included in Version 6.20 of the product, according to SAP. Currently, SAP users must deploy a connector to make Java function with the application server.

Despite SAP’s endorsement of Microsoft Corp. rival Sun Microsystems Inc.’s Java, Plattner said SAP remains on good terms with Microsoft. SAP, he said, will figure out a way to live in harmony with Microsoft’s .Net Web services philosophy.

But an attendee at the show said SAP is proceeding down a different path than the one Microsoft is taking. SAP, said Rick Petragallo, network administrator at pipe manufacturer Northwest Pipe Co. in Portland, Ore., was “choosing to go down a different road than what Microsoft’s going down – so it’s a pretty bold statement.”

The Web Application Server component of will provide Web services that will connect to technologies such as .Net, according to SAP.

But the company is backing J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) and ABAP for provision of Web services. will feature the Web application server, an exchange and integration infrastructure, and a portal infrastructure. These three infrastructure components will ensure interoperability with other technologies, according to the company.

SAP, in endorsing portals, anticipates that users eventually will spend 80 per cent to 100 per cent of their days working with a portal interface. The company already ships a portal product, Enterprise Portal 5.0.

“Every single application you buy in the future will come with portal technology. It is such a superior [technology] that you can’t ignore that,” Plattner said.