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SAP, Microsoft Team On Front/Back-Office Integration

Microsoft and SAP said Tuesday they are jointly developing a product that will integrate back-end SAP processes and data into Microsoft Office front ends.

The product, code-named Mendocino, promises to bridge the disparate worlds of mySAP ERP systems and Office desktop applications. An SAP spokesperson said the offering is for mySAP ERP and higher releases and Office 2003 and that the latest versions of SAP's ERP, business suite and All-in-One should work with it.

A Mendocino beta is due out in the fourth quarter of 2005, with full availability slated for next year, according to Microsoft.

Both companies said they will sell a complete solution. So SAP will resell Office, and Microsoft will resell licenses to SAP's business process platform.

Since Microsoft admitted last year that it had considered and nixed an acquisition of SAP in the wake of Oracle's pursuit of PeopleSoft, SAP and Microsoft have pledged to work together. As part of that deal, they also are working on .Net-NetWeaver integration.

SAP has been the belle of the enterprise software ball since Oracle completed its controversial, multibillion-dollar acquisition of PeopleSoft and its enterprise applications. Companies such as Business Objects, IBM and Microsoft have rushed to cement ties with SAP, the world's largest enterprise applications company. Oracle-PeopleSoft is No. 2. For example, at SAPPHIRE '05 in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Tuesday, IBM unveiled its SAP-optimized DB2 database.

Microsoft also is working on a more unilateral way to link Office front ends to major back-office applications. Besides its currently shipping InfoPath and Information Bridge Framework, the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant also is building Project Elixir to bring back-office data into Outlook.

Longer term, Microsoft is quietly working on an Office-labeled realtime reporting server that's designed to bring the power of fast analytics and reports into the company's portfolio. The product, code-named Maestro, aims to provide realtime data conduits from popular back-office applications--such as those from SAP and PeopleSoft--and put the power of realtime business intelligence in the hands of business users. Microsoft has declined to comment on Maestro.

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