SAP brings out ERP package for mid-sized firms

An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) product announced this week by SAP AG may be available in Canada later this year, according to a senior company official.

At the CeBIT trade show in Hannover, Germany, SAP announced its Business All-in-One software package would be available on the Modular Server announced earlier this year by Santa, Clara, Calif.-based chip maker Intel Corp.

Business All-in-One ships with Novell Inc.’s SuSE Linux Enterprise operating system and the MaxDB, a database management system made by Walldorf, Germany-based SAP. Aimed at small to mid-sized enterprises (SMEs), SAP says it lets IT managers who are interested in the software select different components using a configuration Web page at SAP’s Internet site.

“You pick and choose the building blocks,” said Robert Vetter, senior vice-president for SME business development at SAP France. “You get instantly the price of server, services and software for the particular industry you have chosen. Based on this configurator output we can create an XML file and feed the so-called solution builder and then automatically our reseller physically can build the system in a few hours.”

A typical All-in-One package could cost anywhere from 4,500 to 7,000 Euros, for the hardware, software and implementation, depending on which SAP components they want, Vetter said.

The aim, he added, is to reduce deployment costs by up to 45 per cent and operational cost by 25 per cent. Small and mid-sized firms would be interested in the product because it makes it easier to roll out ERP, said Jeff Comport, vice-president and distinguished analyst at the Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Group.

“The benefit that they’re giving is to reduce the complexity of configuring and loading the software, and that’s going to be a benefit,” Comport said. “In the end it doesn’t lower total cost of ownership for managing or running, but it does help the smaller companies with the selection process. It takes the complexity of hardware out of the game.”

Vetter said SAP does not currently have a rollout plan for Canada, but speculated it would be available here by the end of the third quarter of 2008.

“We’re not excluding Canada at the moment but we’re not at the point where we will say we can do it,” he said. “My personal view is, we have an interest to add Canada.”

SAP currently sells it with Intel’s Modular Server system, but is talking with other hardware manufacturers hoping to bring them on as partners, Vetter said.

“It’s designed to be very flexible,” Vetter said of the Intel hardware. “You can hot-swap the blades, you can add blades and it’s remote-manageable. We think it’s exactly the product we need.”

The bundling with Intel Modular Server will be attractive to small and mid-sized business users, Comport said.

“Because SAP has its own application server and also has MaxDB, more of the software is coming from and the quality is controlled by SAP,” Comport added. “You start to minimize the impact of the operating system and can go with simpler operating systems such as Linux compared to Windows or Unix.”

Vetter said SAP chose SuSE Linux because they were confident SAP software would run well on the system.

“We also use Linux internally for our development and we have thousands of customers already using SuSE Linux, so it’s proven, it’s affordable.”

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