Microsoft, SAP Development Pact Bears Fruit

Drawing on the expanded partnership they announced last year, Microsoft and SAP have created the Portal Development Kit (PDK) for Microsoft’s .Net platform on SAP’s NetWeaver, promising the benefits of integration and interoperability.

The two software heavies said that with the development tools for .Net — to be used within SAP’s NetWeaver environment and portal — customers could lower costs and cut complexity of Web services and application architecture through tight integration of the two technologies.

The software kit, available for free from SAP’s developer network, is an add-in for Microsoft Visual Studio .Net 2003 developers, enabling them to build content for the NetWeaver SAP Enterprise Portal using supported languages such as Microsoft Visual C# and Visual Basic .Net, according to the companies.

“The availability of the new development kit is a key part of our partnership, helping our joint customers achieve richer integration between Visual Studio .Net and SAP NetWeaver,” said a statement from Tim O’Brien, Microsoft’s senior product manager.

Expanding Together

Microsoft and SAP said their expanded partnership on integrating .Net and NetWeaver, announced last May, was intended for some 40,000 SAP-on-Windows customers. The software companies said tighter integration of their software would enable those clients to drive efficiency and business results.

“With this announcement, SAP and Microsoft are delivering on the promise to deepen integration between SAP NetWeaver and .Net in order to help customers better integrate their enterprise,” said Peter Graf, SAP senior vice president of product marketing, in a statement.

Key portal services including management, single sign-on and specialized content can be leveraged in building content for SAP Enterprise Portal, with standard SAP .Net controls and interface controls of SAP NetWeaver both supported, according to the companies.

Better for Customers

Yankee Group senior analyst Laura DiDio told TechNewsWorld that the integration and interoperability was good for customers of the two companies.

There was a great deal of hoopla surrounding the announcement, DiDio said, but “it’s not just lip service. It solidifies and reinforces the commitment the companies have to integrating the two environments of .Net and NetWeaver. It’s better for end users because the products will interoperate.”

DiDio referred to extensive work by SAP developers working with Microsoft and said the result will be lower total cost of ownership and improved return on investment for customers running SAP with Microsoft.

“Things like this take a lot of the guesswork out, and they’ve laid a foundation,” she said.

Application Competition

DiDio also said the expanded integration efforts by Microsoft and SAP were testament to the importance of applications in the overall IT architecture.

“The value add, the lifeblood, the central artery, the heartbeat of any platform will be applications,” she said. “The real value is all in the applications and the data, and that’s what this [partnership] is about.”

DiDio also called attention to a common rival of both Microsoft and SAP: IBM. Despite the past focus on Web services, the service-oriented architecture (SOA) model for linking applications and resources on-demand is now a major battlefield for the large software vendors, she said.

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