SAP Lifts Lid On A1S Hosted ERP

The product, which is in the early "validation" stage with customers and partners, features a spare screen with "see it, try it , buy it" buttons for prospective customers. Those who want to kick the tires can get a multimedia demonstration, bring up a list of functions they may or may not want to use, according to SAP executives demonstrating the code at the software giant's Sapphire 2007 conference in Atlanta.

The trial mode will let potential buyers start checking off functions they would like and crossing out others that aren't pertinent to their roles, said designated demo-doer Ian Kimbell of SAP America's Small Medium Enterprise (SME) group. At this point, users register and start customizing the service for their needs.

The execs, including Hans-Peter Klaey, who heads SAP's SME unit worldwide, said that despite the direct-sales focus, there will be upsell opportunities for SAP and its partners. The demo featured a page listing solutions and services.

A1S builds on the same NetWeaver and business process infrastructure as SAP's on-premises All-in-One solution.

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In the past few weeks, several SAP partners told CRN they are interested in what SAP is doing in services delivery but are not necessarily threatened by it. A services delivery model does not negate the need for domain expertise and customization know-how, they said.

"We don't believe this is the end of software," said Gadi Shamia, SAP's vice president of solution management for small-business solutions, in a thinly veiled swipe at's marketing language. positions its hosted-only CRM as the beginning of the end for on-premises software, a contention roundly denied by legacy software makers like SAP, Oracle and Microsoft. All of those players say on-demand, hosted software is just one of several delivery opions.

Shamia said that whatever happens with A1S, SAP will continue to look at a services delivery model for its Business One offering as well. Business One targets smaller companies, typically five to 100 users. SAP All-in-One can scale up to 3,000 users, and AS1 will fill the gap in the middle, with some overlap on either side.

Neither Klaey nor Shamia sees A1S as an intrinsic threat to partners because even small companies needing financial applications typically require customization or other services -- that is, total solutions.

"We're in discussions with partners, and what they tell us is they see a great opportunity to configure the system with the client and even go to trial with them. In some markets, people don't like to jump into a trial without knowing about the configuration," Klaey said.

Klaey would not specify further milestones but said SAP will keep validating the solution, including the infrastructure needed to deal with demand. He expects volume readiness in early 2008.

There have been continued but vague references to A1S over the past few months and earlier at Sapphire 2007 by chairman Hasso Plattner and CEO Henning Kagermann. Tuesday afternoon, however, was the first public showing of the actual A1S interface and code.