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SAP Takes Sides in the Java vs. Microsoft Battle.
SAP Takes Sides in the Java vs. Microsoft Battle.

(November 20, 2001) - Hasso Plattner made a sweeping announcement regarding the future of Java at SAP's TechEd Conference this morning in Los Angeles. SAP has selected Java as the "open" programming language of the future and elevated Java to an equal status with its own proprietary, ABAP programming language. SAP's Web Dynpro Web Appplication Server will be harnessed to support the J2EE standard and ABAP. SAP developers will be able to use both ABAP and Java side-by-side in the Dynpro server.SAP claims that their internal testing of Java has lead them to the conclusion that there will not be any performance penalty by using Java (relative to ABAP). Plattner clearly stated that SAP will replace their current front-end interface for mySAP.com using open technologies -- Java Server Pages, XML and HTML. Plattner estimates that this will mean the replacement of over 150,00 different front-end objects; screens, pop-up windows and reports. SAP plans to eliminate C++ and C code in favor of Java within the SAP middle-tier. Developers will be able to mix and match Java and ABAP in the middle tier, with all of the presentation logic being developed in Java. Plattner believes that this architecture will extend the life of the ABAP language for at least ten years.

Plattner made scant mention of Microsoft during his comments this morning -- and his silence speaks volumes about SAP's future direction. SAP's position as the clear market leader for Enterprise ERP II application makes this a significant announcement for the future of Java. Plattner estimates that there are over one million registered ABAP developers. Although SAP clearly hopes that ABAP and Java will peacefully coexist, the underlying message is a vote of confidence for Java. Over time, one would expect that corporate SAP programmers will migrate over to the Java platform. Symbolically speaking, SAP has committed their million-strong army of ABAP developers to the Java camp. These are not just solo developers -- but serious enterprise-class programmers. After all, advanced ERP II systems are targeted at the world's larger organizations. SAP's drafting of one million, enterprise-class developers to the Java cause is a significant endorsement. Furthermore, Plattner announced a commitment to working with the Java Standards Community. For the Java faithful, this is a much needed booster shot. What does SAP get out of this? SAP's decision to leverage the Java platform gives them access to all of the hardware platforms that the J2EE JVMs currently support. It gives them a programming language and platform that will make it easier to integrate legacy systems and proprietary applications. After all, many SAP customers have legacy systems that must continue to live on platforms other than UNIX and NT.

SAP made these announcements without mentioning Microsoft in any significant way, and without mentioning Sun either. This was a non-political, technology announcement -- but one with huge political implications. SAP endorsed Java, without endorsing Sun or any of the major application server vendors (IBM WebSphere, BEA WebLogic) in the process. Microsoft would dearly have loved to see SAP standardize on C-Sharp/.NET and they would likely have given them the "Deal of the Century" to do so.

About SAP News Desk
SAP News Desk trawls the world's news information sources and brings you timely updates on the world's leading provider of enterprise resource planning (ERP) and its various software product lines used to integrate back-office functions such as distribution, accounting, human resources, and manufacturing.

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