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SAP made several moves at its SAP's TechEd conference in LosAngeles yesterday to reinforce its commitment to openness.
The enterprise application vendor revealed that it has
embraced Extensible Markup Language (XML) across its
business framework as a format for data interchange. SAP
officials say this will give customers an easier, more
convenient means to exchange data with SAP systems as well
as between SAP and non-SAP systems. SAP says the combination
of its business APIs (BAPIs), the interfaces that connect
SAP's R/3 application suite to a wide range of third-party
software products, with XML, which provides an open standard
for formatting data, will create a powerful conduit for
transporting data across disparate application environments.
SAP also introduced a series of BAPI plug-ins that should
make it easier for developers to access R/3 from non-SAP
environments, such as telephony systems, off-the-shelf
groupware packages such as Lotus Notes and Microsoft
Outlook, and mobile computing applications. For example, the
BAPI plug-in for telephony will connect R/3 with phone
systems, thus allowing call-center applications to
interoperate with such SAP functions as order processing and
SAP now says there are some 1,000 BAPIs in the market, up
from 100 in 1996. "In the past, SAP has been criticized for
not being an open platform," says Rick Pitts, head of SAP's
complementary software program. "In terms of extending the
product, we have made R/3 the most open platform in the ERP
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