May 2, 2006 6:28 AM PDT

SAP and Microsoft tune up for Duet

SAP and Microsoft on Tuesday announced "Duet" as the name for a joint project to bring their respective flagship products closer.

A year ago, SAP and Microsoft announced "Project Mendocino," software to enable customers to interact with SAP applications through Microsoft Office. Now renamed Duet, the software will be available, as planned, in June, the companies said.

Microsoft and SAP intend to jointly market, sell and support the program this year, an effort that will include customer briefing events starting next month. The companies also launched a informational Web site.

Customers have been testing the applications linkup since December, for tasks such as using Microsoft's Outlook e-mail client to view detailed budget data drawn from an SAP back-office system.

The two companies will expand the testing program to about 100 customers and partners this week, Shai Agassi, president of SAP's product and technology group and an executive board member, said in a press conference call on Tuesday.

In the second half of this year, the companies intend to enable the handling of SAP functions and data through Office applications with the release of two "value packs."

They include links between Office and SAP's customer relationship management and its supply chain management applications for five processes, or tasks, including analytics and recruiting.

The Duet add-ons are designed for the 2007 release of Microsoft Office and the next release of MySAP ERP. The integration between the applications is done using XAML, an XML-based user interface design language, Agassi said.

SAP will likely sell Duet primarily into its installed base of customers, said Joshua Greenbaum, the principal analyst at Enterprise Applications Consulting.

But the tight integration with Office could sharpen the rivalry between SAP and Microsoft's Dynamics application division, which will be fighting more fiercly for smaller companies and divisions within large companies, he said.

"This is not necessarily the best thing that's ever happened to Microsoft Dynamics," Greenbaum said, noting that Microsoft has focused on close Office integration as well.

"(Duet) does undercut Dynamics in SAP's customer base," he said.

Jeff Raikes, president of Microsoft's business division, acknowledged that the two companies compete in certain areas, but said that Microsoft is fully committed to Duet.

"We're two different companies. We compete in some areas but what Shai (Agassi) and I were able to do is form effective partnerships," Raikes said. "This was really an ambitious undertaking."

Agassi said the potential financial impact from Duet to SAP is "huge." In most SAP customer accounts, almost all end users work with Office, but far fewer use SAP applications directly, he said.

"We have the potential ability to grow fourfold by looking at the number of employees in a corporation versus the number of users that are professional users of SAP," Agassi said.

He said that the Microsoft Office partnership is part of SAP's strategy to develop different user interfaces, such as Adobe PDF documents or mobile clients, to access back-end SAP data.

See more CNET content tagged:
SAP AG, Shai Agassi, Jeff Raikes, supply chain, SCM


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What's In A Name....
... In that "SAP and Microsoft chose the name Duet for a joint project to bring their respective flagship products closer..."; Should IBM/LOTUS have changed from Symphony to Domino? I liked SYMPHONY best - to go with LOTUS SMARTSUITE!
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
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Great news for .NET/SAP Systems Integrators
Yet another news for developers of integration products using Visual Studio.NET and SAP. Although the SAP .NET Connector Version 2.0
has been great integration tool for VS.NET 2003 developers, as we could quickly put together ERP B2B solutions; its availability on the VS.NET 2005 is still eagerly awaited. The "Duet" initiative raises the expectations of .NET to SAP integrators who would enthusiastically embrace any new tools/libraries delivered by SAP/Microsoft.
Posted by fakherhalim (3 comments )
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