SAP upgrades portal, widens OS support

SAP AG this week released an upgrade of its portal software that runs on operating systems other than Windows NT and includes real-time collaboration tools, such as an instant messaging service.

Greg Crider, director of product marketing for SAP Enterprise Portal, said Version 6 of the software supports newer Windows releases as well as the major versions of Unix. SAP also upped the number of supported languages from seven to 20 and added Web-based application sharing and virtual collaboration room capabilities in addition to instant messaging, Crider said.

To ease installation, SAP is bundling in adapters and predefined business rules designed to let users quickly hook applications to the portal. Content management and data categorizing and retrieval tools are also being added.

Lufthansa AG, which runs human resources, finance and other applications developed by SAP, began using the new portal software in July as an early adopter. Thomas Endres, Lufthansa’s CIO, said a full rollout is due to be completed early next year and will give the German airline a backbone to support wide-ranging collaborative processes.

For instance, Endres wants to use the portal to let Lufthansa’s software developers share and reuse code. He’s also looking to combine the company’s various intranets to reduce server costs.

SAP has promised to integrate the portal software with third-party applications, according to Endres. “That is a key message I rely on,” he said, adding that Lufthansa is using Enterprise Portal with non-SAP products such as Documentum Inc.’s document management software.

Laura Ramos, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc., said Version 6 isn’t a huge step beyond SAP’s existing software. But it provides a foundation for future releases of SAP’s xApps cross-applications technology, she said.