SAP, Intel Eye Mid-Market With Modular Server

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The modular server debuted at CeBIT 2008 this week in Germany and targets mid-size companies in the manufacturing, service and trade sectors, providing them with pre-configured industry-specific processes to help them quickly deploy end-to-end business processes and drive down total cost of ownership (TCO).

Working with long time partner, Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel, the offering will be available on Intel's Xeon-based systems via original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and hardware system providers based on SUSE Linux Enterprise from Novell and the database SAP MaxDB.

"We wanted to provide customers with an ERP solution in a more consumable way," said Sheila Zelinger, SAP's vice president of marketing, SME Solutions. "This uses best industry practices, provides documentation and tools on top of ERP applications that can be tailored to the needs of mid-size corporations and can get to market faster. Channel partners can also reap new benefits, such as being able to enter a new segment in the lower- end market."

The pre-loaded software that the Hamburg, Germany-based company released last week suggests solution packages for customers after they answer a series of questions. Customers can then modify the suggested solution by removing or selecting business processes. The configurator provides a first ball-park estimate of total solution expenditure that includes hardware, software and deployment, given a company's size and scope of project.

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Therein lays another benefit for channel partners: qualified leads. Zelinger said that based on the type of solution a customer is seeking and the regional area they are in, the configurator refers customers to partners who specialize in those areas.

Another additional benefit, Zelinger said, was that the new solution shortens the sales cycle for partners by offering a lower price point.

"We're reducing implementation costs because of the nature of a pre-tested solution," she said. "The learning curve for the partner and client are lessened, and partners can spend less time on installations. Partners will be able to get a reoccurring revenue stream by responding to customers' needs and be able to modify and provide additional services. "

From purely a consultancy standpoint, SAP's offerings may seem bad for business, after all consultants consult, right? Not so, says Klaus Schottenhamel, a 20 veteran of the business and president and CEO of Waltham, Mass.-based B4 Consulting (formerly Information Management Group).

"That is the old type of consultancy," Klaus said. "The business model of the future is to get the solution, implement it and get out. We offer the right solutions and provide implementation which gives us a quick ROI. The real value comes from adding processes."

"SAP is giving us the tools to be successful," he said. "That was the missing piece -- there were no tools for the mid-market. To configure a system doesn't give us a customer, but with this we can give high value solutions that generate more leads, more software sales for us and then more implementations. It's a win-win for us and for SAP."