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 billing.
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 market."