Microsoft, SAP Deliver On .Net-NetWeaver Interop

The pair Tuesday introduced an add-in for Visual Studio called the SAP Enterprise Portal Development Kit (PDK) for Microsoft .NET.

The kit, available at no cost, will allow Microsoft-centric developers as well as SAP customers to deploy portal components on SAP's Java-based NetWeaver platform using any language supported by Visual Studio, said Tim O'Brien, a senior product manager at Microsoft.

It will also give .NET developers access to NetWeaver portal services, such as user management, SAP Single Sign On and specialized content. Customers will be able to pull components out of Visual Studio and integrate them into SAP. It will work with current Visual Studio as well as Visual Studio 2005, which is expected to ship this summer. Visual Studio 2005 Beta 2 is planned for release this quarter.

It is the first deliverable of a wide ranging alliance between SAP and Microsoft, and comes just days after Oracle finalized its 18-month long acquisition of Peoplesoft.

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"It underscores the depth of Microsoft and SAP to drive interoperability between NetWeaver and .NET," said O'Brien. "With this PDK, we're delivering on our promise of broad interoperability. We're not wasting time moving forward on those commitments."

The pair also plan to deliver interoperability between Microsoft advanced web service standards, BizTalk, smart clients and SAP NetWeaver software, O'Brien said. Microsoft also released last quarter an updated SAP .NET Connector 2.0, but no details were available. Microsoft ISVs and solution providers said improved interoperability between Microsoft and SAP -- as well as Sun-- is a big gain for partners and customers in the field.

"By allowing integration and information flowing freely between SAP and SharePoint, it allows for big productivity gains in the ranks when dealing with corporate info," said Glen Gulyas, president of GigaMedia Access, Herndon, Va. "It shouldn't be any surprise with the Oracle-Peoplesoft deal. They're moving closer and closer together."

Microsoft claims 40,000 SAP customers run Windows, and more than two thirds of SAP's software is deployed on Windows.

Analysts note that Microsoft has three global premier ISVs -- SAP, Siebel and Peoplesoft. Following Oracle's absorption of the latter, Microsoft will work harder to keep those first two happy, but there remain points of contention between Microsoft and ISVs SAP and Siebel. "The problem with a tighter MS/SAP relationship is that SAP has a huge installed base on Unix, and there's no likelihood that SAP will fulfill some Microsoft fantasy about supporting its products only on Windows," said Paul DeGroot, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, an industry newsletter. "That's why a Microsoft purchase of SAP made very little sense. Either Microsoft ramps up to become a major Unix ERP vendor, putting it in competition with Windows, or it slowly watches the SAP Unix business die, dramatically reducing the value of a $50 billion-plus investment. Both of those scenarios are highly unlikely."

Nevertheless, Microsoft and SAP plan to continue delivering enhanced interoperability between their platforms and will roll out joint sales and marketing activities over time, O'Brien said.

The PDK is available now and can be downloaded free at SAP's NetWeaver Developer Network site.