SAP Watch

August 23, 2006  9:26 AM

Podcast: SAP, Microsoft Duet software costs, viability questioned


I recently interviewed Jim Murphy, a research director at Boston-based AMR Research Inc. about his recent survey of SAP customers on the jointly developed SAP-Microsoft Duet software. Overall, respondents saw the value that could be gained using the software, which melds SAP data with the familiar front-end Microsoft Office tools. Still, 27 out of 74 survey respondents – had reservations about adopting Duet, according to the AMR survey.

In this podcast, Murphy explains why he believes customers should be cautious about the costs and long-term viability of Duet.

-Rob Westervelt
News Editor

August 21, 2006  1:30 PM

SAP Exchange Infrastructure (XI) Learning Guide


We are pleased to bring to you the SAP Exchange Infrastructure (XI) All-In-One guide. SAP XI is one of the mandatory four components that make up the NetWeaver platform. SAP XI is used for B2B and application-to-application integration. Consider it a superhighway for all enterprise advanced communications. Not only does SAP XI connect systems within an organization and among third-party vendors, but it also houses SAP's Business Process Management (BPM) unit and is a launching point for the service-oriented architecture. Check out some examples:

My version of 'XI 3.0 for Dummies'
What is the future of ALE/EDI and IDocs, in light of XI
Why BPM is good for you

This SAP XI All-In-One guide is your one-stop reference for all things SAP XI. Bookmark this guide because as NetWeaver and XI continue to grow, so will this guide.

Juli Austin
Assistant Editor

August 11, 2006  2:29 PM

SAP, Microsoft Duet versus Lotus Notes?


AMR Research recently surveyed a group of SAP customers who were familiar with the new Microsoft-SAP Duet software and came out with some interesting albeit very preliminary results.

There aren’t a lot of users because Duet has only been made generally available for less than a year. But already Lotus Notes users are debating the viability of the product as well as SAP’s integration with Notes. Notes has many of the same scenarios covered by Duet.

The AMR survey found that at best only about 29% of customers surveyed have the software and hardware requirements in place for specific Duet scenarios. The Lotus folks are arguing that Notes can be installed and integrated with SAP at a lower cost and without upgrading to the latest version of SAP.

In addition, 27 out of 74 survey respondents – had reservations about adopting Duet, however. Some cited the need to upgrade to the latest version of SAP, some saw substantial hidden costs, and others were using IBM's Lotus Notes for groupware processes.
SAP clearly isn’t yet making the case that Lotus users should even consider Duet. The majority of its user base are Microsoft Outlook users. And I’m not sure it’s SAP’s aim to target IBM’s Lotus Notes users with Duet.

I asked the question of whether a Lotus Notes user would see enough value in Duet to make the switch. SAP’s Kevin Fliess said that it would be an evaluation over groupware and went on to tout the various Duet scenarios. I don’t think it’s a question of which integrates better with SAP – Duet or Notes. If you are an SAP-Lotus shop, chances are you’ll look into its SAP integration features.  If you are a Microsoft shop, you’ll look into Duet.

-Rob Westervelt
News Editor

August 10, 2006  3:47 PM

SAP simplified, Dynamics looming


Over the years, we've taken our fair share of jabs at SAP for being overly complex, bogged down with acronyms and seemingly always being a few steps ahead and out of sync with many customers. Sure enough, SAP has always been somewhat intimidating, and we did some head-scratching over how SAP was going to accomplish it's very ambitious small- and midmarket push that was announced earlier this year. How are you going to convince a small mail order firm or local coffee shop chain that SAP will make life better than, say a Microsoft Dynamics solution?

Well, it seems like SAP is starting to get it. Yesterday, a Business Week story reported on the simplification of Business One, where both implementation and management have been streamlined enough that we now seem to be hitting that magic tipping point where the practical benefits of SAP outweighs the hassle. Costs are being pushed down too — less than $10,000 for a complete Business One installation is not out of reach for a small company once you factor in the productivity gains and overhead savings. Business One's big brother, All-in-One, is also making rapid strides.

So SAP is making headway on its aggressive downstream push. That's fine and dandy, but the obvious question is, what's going to happen with the Microsoft relationship? In the top end of the market, SAP and Microsoft are quite chummy. Duet is gaining a lot attention. Rightfully so, if you ask me, since it's a cool technology and it seems like a strategically correct path at least for SAP. When asked whether there are more joint SAP-Microsoft products on the horizon, Shai Agassi wouldn't commit to anything but clearly left the door open: "We'll see how Duet plays out — if it's successful, we may look into other areas." That sounds pretty promising to me.

For the small- and midsize market, things get more interesting. Joshua Greenbaum wrote about this in a recent column, pointing to the cautious dance the two are currently engaged in. What's going to happen when Dynamics GP, AX, NAV and so forth get rolled into one single product in 2008? Will Microsoft continue to sit idly by watching SAP bag the fattest account? Doesn't seem like the 'softie style. We're already seeing some headlines pop up hinting of things to come. Microsoft was careful to use diplomatic wording when it ditched SAP in favor of Dynamics for it's Home and Entertainment division, but they couldn't resist plugging the" two-to-four times cheaper" angle in their announcement. Shortly thereafter, military supplier BlackHawk chose Dynamics over SAP because of simplicity and ease of integration. When the new version of Dynamics AX was released in June this year, cost and ease of use came up once again.

There's potential for great things, and there's potential for war. Only time will tell how this is going to play out, but there's potential upside for SAP and Microsoft users alike. In the mean time, we're going to look into the more practical aspects of just how Dynamics stack up against SAP's All-in-One.

In October this year, we will have two experts argue the case for All-in-One vs. Dynamics in a side-by-side face-off column. Those of you who followed the SAP vs. Oracle face-off between Josh Greenbaum and Faun deHenry earlier this year will recognize the format; we aim to move beyond marketing dogma and take a hard look at the practical, real-life pros and cons of either solution so that users can make the best choice for their companies. We have veteran expert Axel Angeli spearheading the All-in-One side of the argument, so expect the gloves to be off. Stay tuned!

Matt Danielsson

August 4, 2006  2:25 PM

SAP jobs research: SAP skills are hot


Additional pay for IT certifications and non certified skills is being incorporated into workers’ base salaries, according to the latest research from New Canaan, Conn.-based job research firm, Foot Partners. David Foote, CEO of Foote Partners, said such salary-based tech skills pay allows employers to pay employees for skills that match actual on the job responsibilities.

Foote is well known for his firm’s hot technical skills and certification pay index. So far, 51% of 54,000 IT pros surveyed  are receiving technology-related skill pay in their compensation packages, according to Foote’s firm.

Every category of non certified skills showed positive annual growth, according to Foote. The firm’s latest quarterly research covers the period of April 1 through July 1.

Among the fastest growing non certified skill areas:

  • Enterprise business applications
  • Application development tools
  • Networking and communications

Some specific areas that are hot: NetWeaver; SAP modules: Payroll, PS, HR, SD, CA, CO, FI; and Oracle enterprise applications. WebSphere, SUN Java System Messaging Server and Microsoft .NET skills were also big performers.

Certifications are also paying well according to Foote. “Certifications continue to be worth more on average for IT workers who choose to make the effort to obtain them,” Foote said in his report.

Among the fastest growing certified skill areas:

  • Apps development
  • Security

Non certified skills are growing at a faster rate than certified skills. Still, employers are looking at how an applicant has used his or her skills. To get that job, you have to demonstrate you can use the skills you place on your resume.

SearchSAP will be covering Foote's research over the next week or so. Stay tuned.

-Rob Westervelt
News Editor

August 2, 2006  8:56 AM

Updated: mySAP HR Learning Guide


Our ever-popular mySAP HR Learning Guide just had a makeover. The layout scheme has been overhauled for easier navigation and readability, valuable content was re-positioned for a more top-down approach and, of course, new content has been added to keep you sharp and up to date. Take a peek:

Human resource management is never going to get smaller or easier. In fact, human capital is the most valuable raw material we have. Take advantage of our comprehensive HR Learning Guide and keep your personnel professional.

Juli – Assistant Editor


August 1, 2006  2:26 PM

SAP Jobs info center


SAP jobs and certifications have always been hot topics on Our veteran career guru Jon Reed receives hundreds of questions from readers every month about everything from future job trends and ways for getting into a new functional area to basic certifications and tips on how to avoid the outsourcing ax. We also have a number of helpful guides and resources on how to break into SAP, how to become an independent consultant, where to turn for finding that special niche and so on.

Well, now we've gathered it all in a one-stop-shop feature: the SAP Jobs info center! Here you have fresh tips, relevant news stories, guides and of course the ever-present wisdom of Jon Reed to help you move up the SAP ladder. Browse it today, and check back as we're adding new features every day!

Matt Danielsson

July 26, 2006  11:49 AM

SAP jobs: SAP customers see talent pool drying up


A number of job recruiters and SAP consultancies say they are having trouble finding their clients the right experts to manage SAP projects.

Activity is picking up with some SAP customers choosing to upgrade to take full use of NetWeaver and mySAP ERP 2005. Other SAP firms are adding a variety of SAP applications, fueling a need for SAP pros with customer relationship management knowledge, master data management expertise and SAP Exchange Infrastructure (SAP XI) skills.

The result could be costly project delays for some companies, according to AMR Research.

Some firms thought they could rely on India to fill in the gap of qualified experts, but a job recruiter and SAP consultant told me the number of qualified personnel in India is also limited. Another job recruiter said that SAP projects seem to come in waves throughout the year, making tracking down the right qualified applicants for positions all the more difficult.

I’ll update this post with a link to a news story on this issue at

I’m interested in hearing your experiences here. Has the SAP job market for consultants made a full turnaround? What areas are hot? And why do SAP pros appear to be falling behind the latest SAP technologies?

****Update: Check out the latest news story: SAP firms struggle to find experts

-Rob Westervelt
News Editor

July 25, 2006  2:17 AM

Updated RFID guide: new tips, articles and advice for SAP professionals


Are you up to speed on RFID as it applies to SAP? This tiny technology reeks with ambiguity, screams of security concerns bordering consumer espionage and comes with a hefty price tag (no pun intended.) Or, it packs overwhelming potential and is a forerunner in supply chain management technology. It's all a matter of who you ask. Enterprises have kept a close eye on public RFID implementation projects like Wal-Mart and the U.S. Department of Defense. With these projects recently labeled a success, the supply chain world is experiencing evolutionary change. The big question, of course, is whether RFID is right for your company.

Let be your main source for everything RFID. Our RFID Learning Guide provides in-depth analysis of RFID in supply chain management with a focus on SAP. I just finished updating the Learning Guide and will continue to add relevant news and information as they become available.

Here's a sample of some of the new additions to the guide:

Check out the RFID Learning Guide and all other Learning Guides for your on-the-spot information resource.

And while I have your attention, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself.  My name is Juli Austin and I am the new assistant editor for I am excited to be a part of the site and enthusiastic about working with the audience. My goal here is to make the number one site for SAP users. I can't do it without you so I am extending my permanent offer for your advice. Please email me anytime with tips, checklists and any other subject matter you want to see on our site. Anything to help the SAP user to do his/her job is what I am all about. Thanks for reading my very first blog post ever!

– Juli Austin

July 20, 2006  3:37 PM

SAP readies Duet additions


Developer tools that allow companies customize unique scenarios and enable independent software vendors to develop new features will be released. SAP plans to make an announcement in September at SAP TechEd in Las Vegas, according to Kevin Fliess, SAP's vice president of product marketing for emerging solutions.

Duet, formerly code named Mendocino, was jointly developed by Microsoft and SAP. The software allows end users to tap into SAP back-end data through the familiar Microsoft front-end Office products.  

The additional Duet scenarios due out by the end of the year include Travel management, recruiting, analytics integration, sales contacts management and procurement integration. But additional features go beyond new scenarios, according to Fliess.

Fliess also did not rule out extending Duet to other data sources beyond SAP back-end systems. For example, companies running Siebel or would be able to tap into the data in that familiar Microsoft environment using Duet.

So how do you buy Duet?

Fliess said that most companies are talking with both SAP and Microsoft sales reps to get the best deal. There’s no server component associated with it when you buy it through the SAP channel, Fliess said. But depending on a company’s architecture, you have to shop between the two software vendors to get the best deal.

Microsoft sells the software at $125 per computer, plus an additional $125 license per server. Duet requires the use of Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 and Windows Server 2003.

Fliess said SAP is also using Duet as an incentive to upgrade. It often falls into conversations around upgrades, he said, since customers must be on the latest version of mySAP ERP in order to use the software.

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