Saturday, December 13, 2008

ERP in the different industries

I have been blogging about the very specifics of ERP for sometime now. For instance, my blogs have tackled not just individual vendors like SAP, Oracle, Baan, Saleforce and Microsoft also their individual components as well.

I remember having blogged before about the individual SAP xApps and how each of them have been designed to leave smaller footprints and that some of them have been design for specific industries. One such example I pointed out was SAP xApp Integrated Exploration and Production (SAP xIEP) for the oil industry.

I like to point out how ERP in general has been received in the different industries which have positive effects in the ERP implementations.

In the Manufacturing Industry, ERP has greatly given benefit by increasing the efficiency, quality and throughput of complex manufacturing processes. Before the advent of advanced ERP software applications solutions, the manufacturing industry has been plagued by problems coming out from inefficient management of communication. With ERP implementation, all barriers to communications have been torn down and those such complex areas of manufacturing like supply chains, ware house and logistics have been closely linked and coordinated. Also, in the past, customers would have to go from pillar to post just to make an inquiry about the status of the products or any query about technical problems and difficulties. ERP has helped track down product status so that both customers and the company will not be wasting time digging through records or running from one department to another. The Manufacturing industry is biggest industry to benefit from ERP.

In the Insurance industry, ERP has seamlessly integrated three general areas into one efficient working group. These areas involve the company, the insurers and the insurance agents. With ERP for the insurance industry, transactions and monitoring of performance of the agents can be easier. ERP has helped speed up coordination between agents and insurers. In the area of government insurance, ERP has eliminated or minimized red tapes and bureaucracy as decisions are so crystal clearly based in database data.

ERP has benefited the Healthcare industry by efficiently managing large government hospitals and sorting out hundreds and thousand of clients and different degree of medical attention. In some really huge hospitals, an ERP that focuses on the vertical market segment is commonly implemented. Of course, the healthcare industry has accounting and human resources too so they the bigger the company in this industry is, the more it would need ERP.

In the Hospitality industry, ERP are used by big hotels and resorts. It is very common for world wide chain of hotels to implement an ERP to keep track of operations from different geographic locations. Even in the local level, hotels have different sections like housekeeping, food and beverage, customer service, and many more. The hotel and resort industry is one of the most personalized industry in terms of transactions so data should be fresh and updated all the time to avoid embarrassment and eventual loss of customers.

So there it is. Whatever the industry, will always have a solution.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Onwards with Duet

About a year ago, SAP announced its first Duet customer, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC). This company is the operator of a 532-mile-long toll highway system with $580 million annual toll revenues and 2,300 employees.

The PTC purchased Duet from SAP but the business solution Duet is a collaboration of SAP and Microsoft and Duet can be bought from both giants. This application enables SAP back end systems to connect with Microsoft Office front end products like Outlook.

Any company wanting to implement Duet needs to meet certain pre-requisites. They need to have a running implemention of mySAP ERP 2004, NetWeaver, and Microsoft Exchange Server and Windows Server 2003. If any of those mentioned is not present, then Duet cannot sing.

As was proven by Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC), they have experienced benefit from implementing Duet and they are still foreseeing long term benefits coming. But for those who are just starting to implement Duet from scratch, it could be a daunting task just like any other solutions intended for long term beneficial effects. Many of the SAP customers who have been joint customers (both SAP and Microsoft) have already been using Exchange Server and Windows Server so implementing Duet could be an incremental investment. Duet exposes employees using certain scenarios to data which have been pretty difficult to get to or hard to be trained on during the past.

For SAP customers who have been considering an upgrade to mySAP ERP, there might be certain incentives if they want to include Duet but the product is still sold separately.
The Duet Version 1 and the upcoming value packs contain several user scenarios that can be easy to access without having to leave the Microsoft Office environment.
The Time Management scenario is designed for employees needing to record work and corresponding billable hours with the help of Microsoft Outlook calendar and the appointments will then be automatically synchronized and updated with mySAP ERP.
The Budget Monitoring scenario is for managers who want access to financial decisions so they can make sharp moves. They can use the budget monitoring, alerts for budget variances and postings, transfers of budgets and posting adjustments functionalities for doing their responsibilities.
The Organizational Management scenario is for all employees and managers to work on HR related tasks and get connected through Microsoft Outlook.

Other business scenarios include Leave Management, Travel Management, Reports and Analytics, Sales and Management, Purchasing Management, Demand Planning, Recruitment Management and Contract Life Cycle Management

I hope this beautiful duet can move on for many years. Perhaps one may ask which vendor to buy duet from (SAP or Microsoft). Well, customers can of course buy Duet from either company. But potential customers are encouraged to discuss with both vendors so they can be advised based on their other existing products from SAP and Microsoft and they are totally have their choice of procurement of the products through whatever channel they really want. They should also know that both vendors are giants in the industry and support can be easy to come.

Linking business process analysis and SOA

Last week, Oracle announced that they have enhanced the version of its business process analysis software so that it can give better collaboration between the business processes modelers and implementers.

The Oracle Business Process Analysis Suite will be the first "closed loop support" for business analyst and IT collaboration, sharing a common process model format with the Oracle SOA Suite according to Oracle in their website.

Service-oriented Architecture (SOA) has revolutionized the day information systems with distributed computing and modular programming serving very large and intrinsically unassociated units of functionality, which have no calls to each other embedded in them. The services try to mimic human functionalities such as filling out an online application for an account, viewing an online bank statement, or placing an online book or airline ticket order.

According to Amlan Debnath, vice president of server technologies at Oracle:
"The new business process analysis suite features round-trip engineering. What it lets you do is share the business process model with IT."

With this linkage, it would become extremely easy for a developer to make alterations to any business process which would then be shared with business persons.

The Oracle SOA Suite features a SOA execution engine which has the BPEL (Business Process Execution Language) that executes the modeling process done in the business process analysis package. This is an efficient feature wherein the IT users can view and modify business processes with the SOA packages while the business end users can build and change business models in the business process suite. Vital optimization effects in the Oracle SOA Suite and Oracle Business Process Analysis Suite integration are the seamless linking of business process analysis, execution, and monitoring tools.

In the past, it has been a common occurrence to experience round tripping problems when it comes with dealing with business persons modeling a certain process and then handing the said process to the IT department which is responsible for implementing the process. Oracle has addressed this problem by intelligently "sensing" what the business person means and what the IT person interprets the idea to be.

Analyst Bruce Silver said: "Oracle has created an intermediate format based on shared metadata between the modeling tool and the implementation tool, which is the SOA suite. You solve this round-tripping problem now because the model is not just initial requirements for the implementation, but it's a continuous business view of the business process throughout the business process implementation lifecycle."

Oracle Business Process Suite is a component of the Oracle Fusion Middleware Platform. The suite's main strength lies in its efficient modeling, publishing, simulating and optimizing of end to end business processes. It is based on open standards and hot pluggable architecture and can be used with both Oracle and non-Oracle application servers and packaged applications but is uniquely optimized for Oracle's family of enterprise Applications. The price of the Oracle Business Process Suite starts at $5,000 for five users.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

SAP wins over Oracle

When gigantic companies decide to purchase or upgrade a new enterprise resource system, the buzz usually does not just get confined inside the executive boardroom. It goes straight into the IT industry and spreads like wide fire on the internet

Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) is one of the largest networks in the United States and one of the four remaining transcontinental railroads. And when the company decided to replace its old legacy systems, the buzz instantly spread dragging with it two names. As can be expected, it dragged giant names too with the familiar question: SAP or Oracle?

According to Jeff Campbell, BNSF's vice president of technology services and chief information officer, "Both have good products, and it was a very extensive search. But for BNSF, there were some specific drivers for SAP."

With China as a rising economy comes Chinese manufacturing creating a bigger demand for transporting of goods from some ports in the US west coast going to other areas and this further translated into strong growth for the rail industry. Added to this reality are situations such as skyrocketing gas prices, aging roads and congesting highways. This growth as been affirmed by many external studies showing a potential 67 percent increase in transportation volume over the next 20 years and this is what has driven BNSF to invest in band end ERP systems whose financial and HR systems were mainframe-based almost 20 years old. .

Accordingly, the reason for choosing SAP over Oracle has ranges from total cost of ownership (TCO) and systems compatibility to other minimally measurable factors.

BNS has more than $15 billion, about 45,000 employees and has operations in 28 states and two Canadian provinces making it the second biggest railroad company in the Unite States. Every year, it transports enough coal to power one in 1 out of 10 homes in the United States.

Many have speculated that the reason for going SAP is that many other companies in the railroad industry as being serviced by SAP. According to Rod Strata, transportation and logistics industry principal for SAP, five of the seven Class 1 railroads in the U.S. are SAP customers. If one closely examines, would find out that in the railroad industry, there are very few companies one can count and with most these companies going with SAP, this is a big thing.
Campbell further said: "When we looked at the long-range roadmap for future functionality and the ability to levy demands on SAP for functionality we wanted, we felt like being with SAP would align us with the majority of the industry and therefore we'd be in better stead. BNSF also felt that SAP would operate better with its existing technology products, especially IBM. SAP will play with anybody."
Oracle has been on tight competition with SAP. And now that SAP is in "Duet" with Microsoft, Oracle will have to work harder. This current deal with BNSF and SAP shows the flexibility and power of SAP and how it has solutions for virtually all kinds of industries.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

No Money in Saas?

SaaS stands for Software as a service as is fast rising in popularity over the internet. As the name suggest, Saas software is not sold, meaning that customers will no buy the software or own it for free but they pay for using it. A Saas software is hosted and operated over the internet will the customers will avail of the services through an API accessible over the Web and often written using Web Services or REST

But when Oracle CEO Larry Ellison implied: "Where’s the big money in SaaS?" he caused quite a stir the ERP industry where it is in tight competition with SAP. Ellison remarked that Saas and the small to mid sized markets are very interesting for ERP vendors but not terribly profitable. And as many understood it, it was a word dismissing SAP’s Business ByDesign.

But the real puzzling thing was that Ellison owns NetSuite which is a SaaS ERP provider. Yes, when Ellison remarked about where the big money is SaaS it, he was talking about Oracle and for it to go down-market with an on-demand would mean having less profit compared to Oracle's current business model. But then if he was thinking that there was less money in SaaS ERP, then why is he owning Netsuite still?

The answer, as it was obvious to many, lies in the Oracle strategy. Oracle will not be trying to do a SAP. Ellison's move is having to let SAP figure SaaS out and it SAP become successful, Ellision would buy Netsuite for himself. In other words, if Oracle will buy Netsuite when at the right time. Sounds confusing? Yes, it does as Ellison would really be basically buying his own venture but will done with independent committee when the time comes.

Ellison's long take on the difference between Oracle and SAP strategies is:
"What I’d like to highlight here is the radically different strategies of the two companies for growth. Our strategy for growth is to find a way to add more value to the same customers we already serve, which are the large end of the mid-market and large companies. What we’re doing here is moving beyond ERP to industry specific software. So in the telecommunications industry that would be billing systems and network provisioning systems and network inventory systems; core applications to run their business, to run telco, core applications to run a bank, core applications to run a retail chain of stores. core applications to run a utility. That’s our focus, and that allows us to leverage the existing relationships that we have because we already sell databases to these companies, we sell middleware to these companies. We sell ERP and CRM to these companies, and now we want to sell this industry-specific software.

It’s very different than SAP’s strategy which is to go after small companies; small companies with their new Business ByDesign, formerly known as A1S product. Now, we see the problem in that because we’ve looked at going down market. We’ve looked very closely at it, and we think it’s very hard to make money because there is no synergy. To go down market you need a new product and new product development teams. You spend a lot of money developing a whole new product for the low end. But you also need an all new sales force because we don’t call on those customers. We don’t call on small businesses, and it’s very expensive to call on small businesses. It’s very expensive to do ERP implementations in small businesses. The cost of sales is high. The cost of implementation is high. There are virtually no synergies in sales, marketing, and product development and support."

Well, there is afterall money in SaaS. Everything is just a matter of strategy.

Friday, November 14, 2008

When you have got the hang of ABAP

In yesterday's blog, I mentioned about getting the hang out of ABAP. As it is a fact that SAP professionals are some of the best paid IT professionals in the world, many programmers from different disciplines are jumping into the bandwagon and discovering that coding skill alone is not enough to be a good ABAP programmer but knowing about the ins and outs of ERP is as important as having the programming skill itself.

Okay, so in yesterday's blog, I mentioned that ABAP certification is not enough. To make it clear, what I meant was, according to my friend who has been working with SAP for almost ten years in Graz, Austria, if he was the screening personnel, he would not immediately jump at hiring a person who shows an ABAP certification right in his face. He said he does not get impressed with the piece of paper. But that is from his perspective. An ABAP certification could be an indication of certain level or proficiency or certain degree of knowledge that has been achieved. But then, this knowledge may only be in theory if most highly likely, there will be a hands-on screening (and an intensive one at that) to determine the deserving candidate.

So for anybody who has jumped into ABAP from another discipline but no real life experience, what would be the best way to get started? Well, if you are not that confident with passing an intensive human resource screening, the best way may be to start with consultancy. It does not matter how the small the client is to begin with. The more small clients you handle, the more collection you have under your belt transforms into an impressive portfolio. It is not uncommon for newly trained or newly certified ABAP programming with no real life experience to have difficulty in breaking into the SAP field. ABAP in particular is very different from mainstream programming language as the applications it is designed for are already in the mold of the classic R/3 modules, BW, SEM and many others. An ABAP programmer needs to have intensive knowledge on commercial or enterprise processes. Remember what the acronym ABAP means - Advanced Business Application Programming.

So, if you are really determined to form your niche in ASAP, make good at ABAP programming. Persevere in learning deeply on commercial and business realities. Remember that SAP is one of the biggest solutions for business applications and the biggest supplier of enterprise resource planning applications. Make your code work for long term uses and ensure that they can strictly follow all business rules.

You should bear in the mind that the competition is not just between two or more programmers from different disciplines learning ABAP. Other competitors are coming from business degrees trying to learn IT and programming. So try to weigh and ask the question: is it easier for an IT guy to learn business intensively or is it easier for a business guy to learn intensive programming? Never be complacent.

New Battle Foe for SAP?

In the general field of enterprise resource planning, SAP and Oracle has been on very tight competition for the last five years. Despite the very close competition, SAP has always remained number one.

But now, in the particular field of customer relationship management (CRM), SAP has meet a new and smaller but nevertheless fierce competitor in has built its niche in selling of on demand customer relationship management software applications and other development platforms for enabling partners and customers to develop add-on applications which includes enterprise resource planning that can integrate with the development platform of

Similarly, SAP also plans of selling in as early as year 2008 an integrated suite of ERP and CRM software which ultilizes a a development platform for building add-on composite applications.

Both and SAP are rolling out their new applications and platforms and yet they have denied any competition. But take this: During the week of September 17 when unveiled as its new development platform's name in San Francisco during its Dreamforce user conference, SAP as also launching at the same times its on-demand suite Business By Design, which as the former A1S code, in New York.

SAP Deputy CEO Leo Apotheker said: "It is comparing a little hors d'oeuvre, an appetizer, and a complete three-star meal. Salesforce has a CRM application. It happens to be that the vast majority of businesses on this planet do a little more than just CRM. Our attempt is to get rid of all these acronyms. Businesses don't really buy acronyms, they buy a processes flow, a business model. We provide a complete solution and we provide a complete suite, lock stock and barrel, which is Business ByDesign] You don't need CRM from Salesforce any more. It's superfluous. No wonder CEO Marc Benioff is worried. It is disconcerting. He has every right to be concerned."

The final piece of the platform will be the VisualForce which can let developers build any user interface for any application. also announced that it will add two more new applications to its CRM portfolio. These two new applications will be called Content and Ideas and will be designed to appeal to a broader user base. Content will be more about Web 2.0 technologies while Ideas is move of a service for building communities where people meet and post and vote ideas.
On the other hand, SAP has been dominating the ERP software industry and is not new in full ERP integration with on-demand. Although not yet available, SAP's Business ByDesign will be able to deliver suites for common back-office functions such as finance, human resources, CRM, supply chain management, supplier relationship management and corporate governance.

SAP and have been reaching the midmarket with the latter more aggressively looking for inroads leading to enterprise markets. SAP, well, has of course built a niche on the enterprise markets.

Whoever wins in this battle, if ever there is a battle, will benefit two entities: the winner and the consumers.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Getting the hang of ABAP

In my last blog, I did a comparative picture of the salaries for SAP professionals and while the salary rate varied from one SAP specialization to another, it has been shown that in general, SAP professional are earning a lot higher compared to other IT fields of specialization. It is no wonder that many programmers and IT specialists have been planning to jump into the SAP bandwagon.

But today's SAP has become more sophisticated than ever and with that comes a more powerful ABAP too. This means that programmers from other disciplines may think that just because they have mastered the basic programming constructs, learning ABAP would come as a breeze.

Getting the most out of ABAP requires a lot more than just having an knowing coding and even having an ABAP certification. ABAP works with SAP and SAP is dealing with business solutions and the business world is full of complexities greater than any non-business programmer could ever expect.

For those who want to go ABAP, and SAP professionals say advance programmers are the most preferred, understanding the complexities of enterprise resource planning (ERP) is the key. According to ABAP trainers, most people who into training were Visual Basic and Java programmers and one the basic problems they have encountered is in making them understand the complex architecture of SAP based on the three-tier design.

The three-tier client / server design is composed of the database, the applications and presentation logic. All these components are ran on three separate physical computers. Both the database and the applications components function in extracting and pushing data through the presentation logic tier.

When programmers become more and more familiar with SAP ERP, the step is focusing on the ABAP reports generation. In this step, these programmers need to have an in-depth working understanding of the ABAP dictionary which handles all of the processes pertaining to system data. Under the ABAP dictionary which is an interfaced part of the ABAP Development Workbench can be found the definitions of user all data types including the user defined types such as data elements, structures and table types. It is extremely important to know the dictionary by heart as this is the core of ABAP development where almost all the data are filtered through it.

After learning about SAP ERP and taking the ABAP dictionary by hear, the new developers must learn proficiency in performance optimization and upgrades. ERP is all about data and systems integration and it is critical to have a seamless integration of various data sources and disparate systems. As SAP is a world leader in business solutions, its ERP is top of the line with solutions for all types of industries including some in which people have never dreamed of to be possibly addressed by SAP.
Constant practice makes perfect. A certification is not enough because the theory just slips away. Hands-on, like in any other fields of IT, is what makes ABAP developers master the area of ABAP language in particular and ERP implementation in general.

First-quarter profit soars for Oracle

The world's third largest software developer Oracle is smiling cheek to cheek this month as it reported to have gained higher profit for this year's quarter compared to last year's. And just as many people in the industry have been speculating, the increase in profit has been boosted by the company's acquisition of other products. The results of the of the financial conference call was broadcast live at 2:00 p.m. (PDT) / 5:00 p.m. (EDT).

Oracle, whose specialization in software application is in business solution, reported that during this fiscal first quarter year, it has gained about $840 million which translates into 16 cents per share. In comparison, it only gained $670 million or 13 cents last year during the same period. Its revenue soared from $3.59 billion to $4.53 billion.

According to Safra Catz, Oracle President and CFO: “We reported new software license revenues up 35%, the strongest growth of any quarter in ten years. Software sales growth is translating nicely into EPS growth. We’ve now completed thirteen quarters of our five year EPS growth plan of 20% per year, and we are delivering earnings growth well ahead of that target."

Says an elated Oracle President Charles Phillips:

“We continue to take applications market share from SAP. In Q1 Oracle’s applications new license sales grew 65% compared to SAP’s new license sales growth rate of 18% in their most recently completed quarter. We like our growth strategy of expanding into high-end industry specific vertical software as opposed to SAP’s growth strategy of moving down market to sell software to small companies.

"Our Q1 database and middleware new license sales growth rate of 23% was the
highest in seven years. Oracle passed IBM to become the number one database company a long time ago. If we continue to grow our middleware software business at the same rate we grew it this quarter, Oracle will challenge IBM for the number one position in middleware by the end of this year.” quipped CEO, Larry Ellison.

This year's higher earning has been greatly buoyed up the sale of some products which were in the Oracle roster last year. These added products came from Hyperion Solutions, Stellent, MetaSolv and several other software solutions vendors.
Oracle now trades at about 16 times compared to the average outlook for the earnings per share of next year. This is slightly about Microsoft's 16 future price-to-earnings ratio.

Meanwhile, IBM, a technology services company and the number 2 software maker trades at 15 time earning. In terms of database technology, Oracle is still the leader ahead of IMB. In terms of business applications solution, Oracle ranks number 2 just behind Germany's SAP AG. Sap currently trades at 22 times estimated 2008 earnings. Oracle and SAP have been in constant tight competition for top spot in term so enterprise resource planning (ERP) software applications.
Oracle is the world’s largest enterprise software company and innovative solutions for virtually kinds of industries.

Friday, November 7, 2008

High Marks for Oracle

A couple of day ago, a research revealed that Oracle has been recognized for offering high vertical specialization capabilities for small and medium sized businesses. It has become a larger trend for business solutions to target the small to mid-sized market and this is a good development because both the smaller companies can already employ affordable and high end ERP solutions while business solutions vendor can get a wide market base from this section. As SAP indicated in their website, more than 65 percent of its customers are from the small to medium sized enterprises.

Okay, so going to back to Oracles high marks, Forrester Research, a leading independent research firm recognized Oracle's contribution to smaller business with a high mark for its innovation in providing vertical specialization capabilities within the public sector, financial services, utilities, telecom, retail and wholesales industry.

The Forrester Research report was published August 13, 2007 and was entitled "Competition Intensifies for the SMB ERP Customer". There were 25 ERP vendors addressing the business requirements of SMBs reviewed by the Forrester Research analysts. As the report stated, "Oracle Accelerate "represents the centerpiece of the vendor's go-to-market SMB strategy." The report also pointed out Oracle Accelerate application "solutions catalog identifies 70 target industry segments across four product lines (i.e., Oracle E-Business Suite, Oracle's JD Edwards, Oracle's PeopleSoft and Oracle's Siebel) and 72 geographies/localizations to offer more than 20,000 possible solutions."

Tony Kender, Oracle Senior Vice President, Global SMB Business Unit
Said: "We continue to hear from our SMB customers that in order to succeed, they require applications that deliver out-of-the-box, industry-specific capabilities to address their unique business requirements. We are pleased to see Forrester's study validate Oracle's strength in delivering vertical specialization capabilities across multiple industries."

Oracle Accelerate has been developed by Oracle specifically for small and medium sized businesses so that these companies, along with government entities can get comprehensive business solutions which are low-cost, low-risk, and the same time very industry specific functionalities. The main benefit to be derived from this application, aside from its very low price, is that it can provide for pre-packaged applications which can be rapidly implemented. Another important aspect of Oracle Accelerate is that Oracle has partnered this solution with Oracle Business Accelerators where smaller and mid-sized business enterprises can take advantage of easy to use templates and process flows so that customers can be made to realize immediate benefits from using the application. Other key features of Oracle Accelerate are automatic upgrading to save time from complex and risky migrating processes. It also offers integration with back office and front office processes.

For the high mark that Oracle has garnered from the Forrester Research, I say congratulations. I am sure that more innovative products will come our way especially now that Oracles has long been longing to get the top spot from SAP as the leader in ERP solutions. And with SAP not just standing by as Oracle is getting accolade, for sure more business innovations are coming from SAP too. The result is that it is the small and mid-sized enterprises getting the best of both worlds.

SAP A1S No More

Recently, SAP announced that its software as a service (SaaS) ERP A1S is now called SAP Business ByDesign along with encouraging small and mid sized company to jump into the ERP bandwagon.

The SAP Business ByDesign is an ERP software has been meant to be marketed as a very affordable business solution for midsized companies with 100 - 500 employees. This solution has a starting price of $149 per month per user and the package already include the software, services and support, for companies with a minimum of 25 licensed users. Since this catered to smaller companies with limited financial resources, not everything is packaged for compulsory purchase. A company has a choice to avail of a $54 per month option for "efficiency users" who may want only a limited access and the company can choose also to buy the business solution for a set of five users only.

Says SAP CEO Henning Kagermann: "It is the most important announcement of my career I'm making today. We designed this product to create a new market for us."

Very true indeed what Kagermann is saying. The SAP Business ByDesign is by subscription model so that small and medium sized companies will not be burdened or overwhelmed with one time high price. This solution joins the like of Business One and All-in-One in SAP's small and midsized business (SMB) portfolio.

The Business One solution is an easy-to-use business management software application which has the capability of having a single system spanning all cores of business operations including e-commerce and web based customer relations manager. It designed for a company of about 100 employees or less to help it with wholesale distribution, discrete manufacturing, retail, and professional services operations.

On the other hand, the SAP All-in-One is a complete business solution with a slashed down price for smaller companies 2,500 employees. Like the SAP Business One solution, this is also an on-premise product. The SAP All-in-One is based on both SAP ERP 6.0 and SAP CRM so companies can have a fully integrated ERP software providing support for key business processes from human resource management to financials and purchasing to inventory and production. It also comes with business analytics and high end reporting tools to manage an integrated sales, marketing and service processes.
As trend would show, it is not just SAP which is targeting small to mid sized businesses. Its toughest competitors Oracle and Microsoft, along with smaller others and other business solutions company mergers are into this market area. This is a wonder move as smaller companies no longer get trampled in the competition by giant companies and multinational corporations.
Also, as SAP revealed in their website, there are more than 65% of all customers SAP coming from small- and midsize companies. This spells into a bright sales prospect for ERP software vendors.
As for the SAP Business ByDesign, the company is today in pilot phase in countries from Germany and the United States and has on going validation in France, China and the United Kingdom.

The joy of SMBs with IBM and Oracle ERP Solution

It is just over a year since IBM announced a business solution for small and medium business (SMB) with a special price intended for easy affordability. This business solution was uniquely configured for SMB customers who have adapted to Oracle's JD Edwards EnterpriseOne applications and is specifically designed to be used for companies with at most 100 users.

The IBM System i 520 Solution Edition for Oracle's JD Edwards EnterpriseOne has been developed based on the IBM “all-in-one” System i business computing platform which ca offer a comparable acquisition cost to analogous Windows-based solutions.

The IBM System i 520 has been providing small companies with a solution that can be at par with some expensive ones with comparable configuration on Windows-based systems like Dell PowerEdge. The IBM System i has what other pricey solutions offer: database and storage features that can handle large data volumes, easy systems management, intact integration and open standards along with high built in security and virus resistance.

If in the past only large companies can afford a sophisticated system like this, things have changed. Small and medium sized companies can now implement their own program that can manage accounting, emails, supply chain and disaster recovery in with one robust application from big names like Oracle and IBM at a much lesser price.

It can still be vividly remembered what Mark Shearer, general manager of IBM System I said a year back: “SMB customers typically operate in lean environments with little or no IT personnel and limited resources. Some of these customers have previously selected Windows-based environments to support their JD Edwards applications – believing it was the most economical choice – then found themselves acting as the systems integrators for their business as they managed multiple servers and added the operating system and storage they needed to make the solution actually run. Today’s announcement removes price from the equation, giving SMBs a simpler ERP solution that requires minimal technical expertise."

The System i Solution Edition for Oracle's JD Edwards EnterpriseOne integrates both software and hardware solutions. It also comes with additional storage devices for about 100 users and include key function for business like from customer relationship management to supply chain management.

I tried to visit the IBM website and try to see what developments they have with the System i Solution Edition one year later. I specifically looked the hardware and found some interesting information. The wide array of selections include The IBM System i 515 Express, IBM System i 525 Express, IBM System i 520 Express, IBM System i 520, IBM System I 550, IBM System I 570 and IBM System I 595.

Each of these packages has its own specifications and they vary depending on the intended target. But despite all their slight variations, the point which boils down to one thing is that it can be very easy for SMBs under their budgetary limitation to implement a sophisticated ERP system.

The SAP – Informatica Relationship

The SAP – Oracle competition to be the top business solution in enterprise resource planning continues.

And while Oracle does its part in the competition by going on a shopping spree acquiring other software solutions companies and products, SAP is not just standing and watching. Of course we know of SAP's in-house innovations, but it does not stop at its lawn. But unlike Oracle, SAP is not acquiring, it is partnering.

A current development is SAP's partnership with Informatica to include the latter's management tools with some of the former's enterprise resource planning and analytics products. This new tie will definitely give business enterprises better tools for analyzing data stored in legacy systems (yes, it is hard to get away from legacy system with today's prohibitive costs of installing a new system) and third party systems.

Informatica Corporation is a niche owner in the field of data integration software and services for various businesses, industries and government organizations, including telecommunications, health care, insurance, and financial services while SAP, well, who does not know that is the number provider of enterprise resource management solutions?

This deal is sort of a symbiotic relationship: this will boost SAP's marketing campaign because Informatica's applications will help the company sell into larger enterprises with heterogeneous environments while Informatica can take on the exiting popularity of the SAP as an industry giant an all of its 40,000-plus installed client base. This deal will also make SAP have easier access to sales into large client accounts without having to, uhhm, bruise is ego by partnering with Oracle.

The deals includes embedding Informatica's PowerCenter, PowerExchange and Metadata Manager software into SAP's performance management and business analytic applications and the NetWeaver platform for master data management and business intelligence. The last two mentioned applications are among the fastest growing products of SAP. This growth is indicative of the trend in handling high data volumes with increased fragmentation of data sources.

For years, dealing with huge bulks of data coming from disparate data sources have posed a constant challenge for data warehousing and business intelligence systems. But this collaboration of two industry leaders can help problems related to disparate data management by correlating isolated data stores in meaningful and efficient ways. For example, manufacturers can have a better tool in correlating error rates for a particular product with batches from various raw materials suppliers. Data mining cannot do what-if analysis but the SAP – Informatica collaboration can. Another benefit to be derived is the advantage of a metadata management application which can make it easy for companies to have an audit trail of data sources and changes to the data.

While this partnership is hinted at warding off competition from SAP's closest rival Oracle, they are not the only ones in the arena of business enterprise and the many other are not just standing by cheering for either SAP or Oracle. HP is also building a similar software solution. IBM has also partnered with Oracle in coming up with yet similar products.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

All Around Enterprise Portal Management with SAP

In today's information driven world, the business sector is one of the biggest users of data from various sources. That is why it not uncommon for business organizations to invest in costly data warehouse infrastructures.
And what good is an expensive, ultra sophisticated data warehouse with exposing the data inside it to data consumers?
Enter enterprise portals.

An enterprise portal is a software system which can provide for a single point of entry (hence the word portal) to the rich repository of information for a business organization which is often presented in web-based interface. In theory, this is a framework that integrates information, people and processes across organizational boundaries.

The SAP Netweaver is both SAP's technology platform as well as the very foundation for all of SAP's solutions. And of the functions it does best if managing and efficient enterprise portal.
There two main variants for implementing SAP Netweaver. The first is implementing a federated portal network so that business organizations can share contents between portals by integrating non-SAP WSRP-compliant content into an SAP NetWeaver. The second method is implementing an external-facing portal used for a wide array of purposes for different business scenarios and handling of anonymous and registered users.

SAP Netweaver's support platform gives the enterprise portal system administrator a Web AS environment where it is easy for them to get plug ins from other sources or from his own coding. This modularization can make the system more flexible and this method is fast become today's standard due to its ubiquity. The platform also makes it easy to the system administrator to check and troubleshoot problems on one or more server nodes. The platform, in close coordination with the PDC inspector which is a support tool for content development and administration, can perform very thorough analyses of objects within the system.

One of the biggest benefits to be derived from enterprise portals is also one of the biggest challenges for the administrators. And this aspect is on activity reports. But SAP Netweaver has an Integrated Activity Reports for Administrators tool which can make the system gather and present information about the portal through an iView interface. This reporting tool can give information including those about users who logged on to the portal and about the content that was viewed and many other tiny details.

XML Technology has become indispensable in information system and SAP Netweaver leverages on XML by having features for import and export of portal content based on XML scripts which can enable PCD-object creation automatically.

Web services are also fast becoming ubiquitous with various large companies like and many others already exposing them for various purposes. SAP Netweaver has great support for web services so that the enterprise portal can make web services interaction very easy wherever the sources may be.

Managing an enterprise portal is undoubtedly a big challenge but using the right tool like SAP Netweaver makes the experience easier, educational and a very fulfilling.

Web development platform for on-demand software

A couple of months ago, Google and made a sensational pact wherein Google will can help small enterprises in generating sales leads while Saleforce will take its turn turning these leads into actual customers.

A few days ago, announced that it has developed a new rich web platform for building on-demand business software geared towards leading to an explosion of applications which is similar that to that with Facebook., a San Francisco based company known for its talent for coming up with great catchphrases, calls this development as which is a "platform as a service". This platform can be used by non-programmers so they can easily make very attractive online applications which will connect with other within the fast expanding Salesforce ecosystem.

This is really nothing new and as I previously mentioned, Facebook has been quite busy these past few days handling open apps like these from its huge base of social networkers. Look at online sites like and you will see advertisements seeking programmers who can develop Facebook applications. And recognizes with the words of Ariel Kelman, senior director of platform product marketing at saying: "Once you provide the openness, we think you will see an explosion of apps analogous to Facebook.", a global leader in On-Demand Customer Relationship Management is also the developer of AppExchange, an application that can host on-demand software created with partners. It is fast catching up with CRM and ERP leaders such as SAP AG, Oracle Corp. and Microsoft Corp by constantly innovating its flagship CRM service.

In August, has announced that during the second quarter, AppExchange has already 48,000 registered developers after about a year and a half from its release. These registered developers are independently working or for 348 independent software vendors that have created 642 applications.

In very stark contrast, Facebook, since its launching of its Facebook Platform in May, has only ore than 3,500 applications. The success of the system could be attributed t the popularity of social networking websites.

According to Kelman, much of the code can easily slide straight into the environment without a lot of rewriting so that software vendors or companies with existing Web applications can easily do the integration into their existing systems. He furthere added that "Porting over the user-interface elements you can do very quickly, but there will be some effort involved in migrating the database and logic. But after that, the ability to change your application becomes so much more flexible."

Open platforms are fast becoming more popular internet and more and more pluggable modules can be easily downloaded online. This is great indication of collaboration among many coders online and such scheme can bring out the best creativity in people while making them earn money for what they love doing in their most flexible schedules. The continued popularity of open platform will definitely mean more robust yet flexible business applications in the months to come.

SAP and Linux

More and more large enterprises are moving into Linux and other open source software because they are a lot cheaper as they are robust and stable. The popularity of Linux used to be predominant in the field of servers. But today, Linux is ubiquitous as it had gained support from mainstream giants such as IBM, Sun Microsystems, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Novell.

SAP and Linux has a particularly tight relationship with the SELinux distro. As a short backgrounder, the SELinux distro was developed by the National Security Agency (NSA). No wonder the SE stands for Security Enhanced. This distro was originally developed as a research prototype of the Linux kernel as well as some utilities for security purposes. Now, the SELinux distro has already been integrated into the mainline Linux 2.6 kernel series.

This blog is meant to focus on the Solution Manager 4.0 SR1 system with MaxDB and how it can be securely deployed with SELinux, whose modules are compiled binaries having many hard coded directory names. SAP generally is not shipped with any precompiled policy that can be employed by all SAP customers.

Before SAP can be installed in on SELinux, the following SELinux rpm packages should have been installed already: selinux-policy, selinux-policy-targeted and selinux-policy-devel.

When all the above mentioned packages are in place, we need to check the contents of /etc/selinux/config and make sure the two variable are present:


We then need to start to build the new policy with SAP Solution Manager 4.0 SR1 by going to the directory that contains the needed tools: cd /usr/share/selinux/devel

We need to build our policy from scratch so we called the policygentool script along with policy name and the binary belonging to the policy.

./policygentool sap /sapmnt/LSM/exe/R3trans
[..some information..]
Return to continue

If the module uses pidfiles, what is the pidfile called?

If the module uses logfiles, where are they stored?
>/usr/sap/LSM/DVEBMGS00/workIf the module has var/lib files, where are they stored?

Does the module have a init script? [yN]
Does the module use the network? [yN]

After the execution, the procedure will have created the following files as the source of the new policy:
# ls -la sap*
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 265 May 3 17:41 sap.fc
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 463 May 3 17:41 sap.if
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1539 May 3 17:41 sap.te

There are many tutorials you can find on the internet. I think the collaboration between the Linux and the open source world and SAP applications in particular as well as ERP in general will be a great benefit to the business world especially for the small and medium size enterprises. This will mean a big cut in expenses as Linux is basically free so the savings can be rolled into other investments. And since open source is a collaboration of thousands of coders around the world, more developments are definitely coming their way.

Oracle and in the face of the planet

Oracle has long been a leader in global business solutions. But when one mentions the words Oracle and ERP, the idea that easy comes to mind is all those shopping spree that Oracles has done in the past few years in a desperate move to outshine its closes competitor SAP as the number provider of ERP solutions. But as I blogged in the past, I do not see anything wrong with these shopping sprees. My thing is that if Oracle can afford it and the potential acquisition gets a good deal, then fine. This healthy competition between SAP and Oracle will result in the consumers benefiting in the end. This is what business competition is all about.

Perhaps the United Nations thinks the same. There is nothing wrong with Oracle's moves. The important thing is the quality of the products. So much so that the United Nations development Programme (UNDP) has deployed and implemented an Oracle ERP module on a mass scale spreading out to all continents. This partnership is getting stronger with new efforts in trying to increase the user base and penetrating new segments in the market. It has been reported that UNDP has saved about 10 percent in time and money and has decided to embark on a new campaign of using PeopleSoft.

The romance between Sun Microsystems and Oracle has served greater benefits to the consumer public. New developments spring from the partnership include some products designed to benefit organizations in all aspects from economical to procedural. One of these benefits is the an implementation of ERP which does away with so many servers at the local level. Small and medium sized companies can install a smaller number of computer servers to facilitate their operations and thus save money.

An example of the "beneficiaries" of Oracle is a hospital company in Ohio City. Because of better hospital resource management, there has been an increase in the number of lives saved or reduced extent of loss or intensity of injury incurred on people. But along the way to the hospital's success in better management, the encountered problem with an Oracle implementation failed. But the mistake was not mainly due to the inefficiency or Oracle but in the people implementing it who depended heavily on the software as a magical cure it all remedy even to basic problems requiring only a simple common sense. In social speak, this incident is called an area for new lessons learned. Oracle ERP softwares are simply mechanical instructions and for now, they cannot totally "think for themselves".

Oracle's easy adaptability to local markets has greatly helped smaller companies in poorest countries. In Brazil, Oracle has fast become a favorite ERP application as many companies have experience the benefits. Because of globalization, many companies from poorest countries and smaller economies have to face the industry giants from the industrialized nations. But with the help of ERP solutions, the competition may not be as tough as could be expected.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Why SAP Mobile?

Well, everything now has gone mobile. Mobile devices are getting smaller: personal digital assistant such can now fit into our palm, cellular phones are more than just phones, and laptops are getting smaller, thinner and lighter.

This mobilization of things has greatly impacted today's business in a lot of beneficial ways. Businessmen, CEO and staff have become productive due not only a lot of processes being automated but because they can do their work wherever they go.

Of course, it is not wonder why SAP, the world's leader in enterprise solutions, has developed mobile support for business applications. MySAP technology has made spatial and temporal situations borderless with people working together under SAP's technical mobile infrastructure.

Here is a scenario. People in the sales team may be scattered in different geographical locations around the world. Yes, this has a common scenario since the last few decades. But these people can work together as if they are just within a few cubicles away. They can co-locate with clients by accessing sales databases. They can communicate in real time with their colleagues miles away. They can even work in their underwear at home. Or while sipping their favorite soda and lying on the beach, they can fire up their applications as a virtual office.

Sap's mobile technology is integrated in one Mobile Computing or Pervasive Computing suite called mySAP Mobile Business. This technology can facilitate mobile workers by integrating enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications with mobile gadgets connectivity to give them real time computing with high quality and up to date information.

Being on the move and still having great control over business operations have both great and powerful advantages. For people like me who love to meet people for coffee and socialization and yet still greatly considers other mental aspects of business intricacies, using mySAP Mobile business is like getting the best of all worlds. While sitting on an piazza and talking to a client or potential clients in friends and relative, I cam manage office transactions with a few clicks of the mouse and taps on my laptop keyboard. I can also update my customers and get quick responses from them through emails or online chat. I can easily monitor my sales and other transactions from around different places by simply firing up my favorite web browser.

The mySAP Mobile Business suite is both and online and offline mobile platform. It can seamlessly integrate back end and front end interfaces to ensure that important developments in business is communicated to the right people at the right time. From the offline solutions, mySAP Mobile Business can deploy data using the SAP mobile engine. This can give employees more flexibility in that they can use their smart phones, PDAs, handhelds and other mobile devices to do business even though they are in remote places with no network connection.

Tomorrow, let us take a closer look at the SAP mobile engine in particular and the mySAP Mobile Business suite in general. And for you reading this, wherever you are now, I hope you are also in a dynamic monitoring of your business. Take care.

ERP Job Salaries

I remember that in my blogs a couple of days ago, I mentioned that SAP professionals should get security certifications in order to get a higher raise. Yes, a higher raise despite the fact that SAP professionals in particular and ERP professionals in general are some of the best paid people in the computing industry.

While surfing the internet today, I came across this salary range for ERP Project Manager which reflected that as of April 2007, the median rate is at $114,194 per annum. And this rate is just for base salary; this does not even include yet other benefits and bonuses!

The website of has a neat sort of search engine for determining salary. I tried to get specific salary for an ERP programmer in the business services industry in New York, New York for a company with $5M - $10M in revenue. I learned that the salary for the specific ERP programmer is around $100,000 per annum. This is really a neat feature and you can try it yourself and see where you stand and what you want to achieve in an ERP career or any other career not just within the information technology industry!

And then I got a detailed ERP job salary range in UK from this site Oracle ERP over the last 3 month to 14 September 2007 with a comparison to the same period last year shows the Average Maximum Salary for Oracle ERP guys is £56,365 compared to the same period last year's rate of £49,263. General Business Applications professionals in the UK has Average Maximum Salary of £58,058 compared to the same period last year's rate of £57,153.

During the past six months, the same website determined the Top IT skills in the UK and the top 10 are the following:

1. Oracle tied with General ERP
2. Finance
3. Oracle applications
4. Oracle EBS
5. SQL
6. Oracle Financials tied with Oracle 11i
7. Project Management tied with Degree
8. Oracle 8/8i
9. Oracle 9i

I also came across with someone asking the question: "What's average salary in the USA for SAP ERP functional consultant with more than 8 years experiences?" This question was posted some time in March 2007.

Two guys answered. One said more generically: "You can earn around 100 000$ per year." Another guy who claimed to have 10 years of experience with SAP gave a more specific answer: "I can't talk about someone with 8 years experience, but ten years will get you $90,000 to $120,000. Big 5 firms will look in the above-mentioned range. $100,000 would be a good target for 10 years experience. The good old days before Y2K are long gone."

In most of my searches, I have discovered that certification is indeed important in order for one to get a higher rate. Yeah, many people may raise their eyebrows but this is a reality. But above all, experience is still the biggest gauge for salary rate.

The SAP Web Application Server Architecture

As I promised in yesterday's blog, I will tackle more on the internals of the SAP Web Application Server Architecture.

Just like any other web servers, the basic function of the SAP WAS to dynamically create web pages on the fly depending on the preferences specified by the end user. The SAP WAS is high end commercial application meant to manage the complexities and rich features of most of SAP's business software solutions. The SAP WAS integrates the J2EE environment with parallel support for Java and ABAP using a common database in one server.

There are four major blocks representing the main functions of the SAP Web Application Server:
The Internet Communication Manager (ICM) – the component is an independent process that takes care of all communications between the Web Application Server and external supporters over intranets or the internet. It supports many standard communication protocols including HTTP, HTTPS, and Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP). The ICM is built on a stable and robust infrastructure and communication is being carried out over a communication channel named memory pipe which is of high performance and memory based. This components anticipates huge bulks of enterprise data as SAP is basically designed to scale to any company size. The ICM can improve a website's performance significantly by using an active and dynamic caching technology.

The Business Environment – this component takes care of all business contents and the enterprise' underlying logic which is published with the use BSP/JSP. All existing components like business object can be used for the business logic. Both the ABAP Environment and the J2EE Environment are in this component.
Connectivity – this component is used for integrating third-party products, tools, and applications in the Web Application Server and makes sure that there is intensive support for many open connectivity standard. Because of the Connectivity building block, the Web Application Server can provide for a comprehensive technical interoperability across all SAP and third-party components. For exchanging information across disparately platforms, Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), an XML-based protocol, is employed by the Web Application Server.

Relational Database – Relational database are everywhere in the SAP suite of applications. In fact, most of SAP is about data and databases. Anyway, the Web Application Server can use an exhaustive repository in exchanging all sorts of enterprise data, including the sensitive ones. It also offers a sophisticated set of Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) tools for successful deployment of web services.
So there it is, the architecture behind the SAP Web Application Server. But don’t get me wrong, it may look like four simple blocks but when you dig deeper into each of the details, you will be amazed with all the sophisticated functionalities that they can offer. You must bear in the mind that this is the most important component of the SAP Netweaver and the Netweaver is the very foundation of all of SAP's applications.

Until tomorrow, I look forward to having a fruitful weekend today. Thanks to the internet, I can monitor my business while lying on the beach.

Faster Growth for PeopleSoft ERP Applications in The Public Sector

Who says that enterprise resource planning is only for the business sector? Wikipedia defines ERP as "a system to integrate (or attempt to integrate) all data and processes of an organization into a unified system. A typical ERP system will use multiple components of computer software and hardware to achieve the integration. A key ingredient of most ERP systems is the use of a unified database to store data for the various system modules."

So there it goes, it can be used for any organization trying to unify high volumes of data processes.

To prove that ERP is gaining more widespread use in the public sector, in two of the largest school districts in the United States, The School District of Palm Beach County in Florida (having 165,000 students) and Fort Bend Independent School District in Texas (having 68,000 students) PeopleSoft ERP applications is experiencing continued strong growth. These two giant school districts have recently partnered with company specializing in systems integration and Oracle Certified Partner called eVerge Group so that they can convert their financial and human resource systems to PeopleSoft.

Accordingly, during the last twelve months, there has been a marked increase in the number of currently customers of PeopleSoft who have upgraded their existing PeopleSoft applications and acquiring new functionalities. Records showed that those customers had been upgrading to PeopleSoft version 8.9. Even the newly released Version 9, just release in early 2007, has enjoyed relatively huge purchases.
Looking back, the Cleveland State University licensed PeopleSoft's software for tracking student records in 1997. The system was adopted by the California State University system in the early 2000s.

Indeed, when talking about ERP, it is the business sector that easily comes to mind. But the fact is that PeopleSoft ERP applications have already been traditionally popular in the public sector in most of the United States. This can be attributed to PeopleSoft's ease of use and great flexibility in address unique local government as well as needs of school districts like in the field of commitment accounting and budgeting, as well as departmental position requirements.
Despite past issues such as the Decmber 1999 quality and performance issues complaints of seven of the eight "Big Ten" Midwestern universities and the California State University complaint of having spent $500 million on a deficient system, PeopleSoft has now stabilized and made more robust as it is now part of the Oracle family of applications. Customers of PeopleSoft can now benefit from the new middleware applications that enhance the integration applications and databases throughout their organization.

Oracle is in very aggressive in all of its efforts to gain the top spot in the business software applications industry. The number one spot is now being held by SAP. The move has result in Oracle making shopping sprees of other top notch applications.

Well, definitely, Oracle is doing its best efforts to enhance itself should it want to be on top. And these enhancements can trickle down to other products as well, including of course PeopleSoft.

The SAP Web Application Server

Yesterday, I blogged about SAP Netweaver, the technical foundation for all SAP applications, despite the fact that I had been blogging about a ton of SAP applications already most specifically SAP xApps. I guess it wasn’t too late to get to the core.

Now, let me blog about the SAP Web Application Server. As the name suggest, this is a web server, much like Apache, Microsoft IIS and many other but this one is specialized for all of SAP's cutting edge business solutions.

The Web Application Server (WAS or Web AS) is actually one of the components of SAP Netweaver and is undoubtedly one of the most important products as this serves as a foundation on which all other applications run on.

This product allows the web development of SAP solutions. SAP used to solely rely on the ABAP programming language, but today's development often involves the Java programming language. The Web Application Server is linked with and based on the SAP solution infrastructure. Yes, SAP is very robust, many think of SAP's relative independence as very exclusive and they seem to give the impression that they have an IT world of standards of their own.

SAP's Web Application Server makes possible the development of new internet paradigms such as the combination web services with the transactional operations of ERP. Development of these new internet paradigms start with creating an environment to provide a set of tools carefully matched in order to support many other application. This is called the Web Applications Builder. This is an object-oriented, repository-based development environment employing both Javascript and ABAP. The Web Applications Builder can allow users to develop new kind of enterprise web applications which are the BSP applications while being able to support a complete development lifecycle. Two of the main parts of the applications are the Business Server Pages (acronym BSP) and MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) objects.

As mentioned, the Web Application Server is basically a web server like many other in the industry and the main idea behind the WAS is similar to active server pages (ASP) of ASP or Java Server Pages (JSP) of Sun Microsystems. As such, the WAS can of course support documents containing HMTL and other codes in a web page and codes are compile upon the server by end user request. One can have choice between ABAP or JavaScript for use in the documents.

It can be said that the WAS is an assimilation of conventional Web technologies by adding Web Dynpro for the presentation logic for enterprise websites. The Web Dynpro is actually the SAP NetWeaver programming model .

By using the Web AS, one can publish queries, programs and applications based on ABAP. The WAS also offers some flexibility. With versions from 6.20 up, one can have a choice of creating ABAP only, Java Platform, Standard Edition only or mixed environments.

The architecture of SAP Web Application Server has many complex areas. In tomorrow's blog, we will tackle some of those. For the meantime, I wish you a nice business day.

IPhone and ERP

If I may ask, what is the common thing beween and iPhone and an enterprise resource planning software?

Of course we know the iPhone to be an ultra fashionable device with multimedia and Internet-enabled quad-band GSM EDGE-supported mobile phone developed and marketed by Apply and many young people are going gaga over it…blah blah.

But an iPhone for an ERP? Sounds like a far fetched idea! But then again, with information technology, there is disparity which cannot be merged together. If oil and water were digital stuff, definitely, there would be an easy method to get them together the IT way.

A couple of weeks ago, Netsuite, a business solutions / ERP vendor, introduced a mobile application access interface that it calls SuitePhone. The SuitePhone can allows users of the iPhone a link up to information which stored in the latest version of Netsuite's software, the NetSuite 2007.

The synchronization offered SuitePhone takes advantage of the many functionalities available with the iPhone.

According to Malin Huffman, senior manager of product management at NetSuite:
"Traditionally in a mobile environment business applications provide a scope of functionality that is limited—typically customer relationship management or access to the back office, but it's a defined set of capabilities. With iPhone, all of NetSuite's CRM, all of enterprise resource planning is available—even the ability to manage e-commerce activities."

Netsuite has been a provider of integrated on-demand CRM and ERP and has been on-going in its deepening support for Apple's Safari browser as well as intensifying its use of AJAX technology. And this all makes sense: AJAX as open standard and Safari as Apple's browser can surely optimize and expose the many features of the iPhone!

Developments like this are just exciting and for sure many businessmen are enthused about accessing enterprise while being in remote places with only their phones. Well, there is the laptop but that is different thing. A laptop is heavier and bulkier and needs an internet service provider. With the iPhone, there is nothing to add except the SuitePhone software. Enterprise data consumer from CEO down to admin staff can remotely access financial data functionalities such as invoicing, accounts
receivable and payroll.

As of the moment, there are still certain limitations. This is of course a natural thing since the technology is still new. As Huffman said: "There are things like printing that just aren't supported yet. This is really about accessing information in NetSuite and entering new information. We're expecting people to check dashboards or run an income statement. We don't really think people are going to spend 8 hours a day on the iPhone".

For sure this software and the Netsuite – iPhone partnership, like all other things in information technology, will evolve fast. For now, I want to imagine myself listening to my favorite music or watching my favorite video on my iPhonewhile on a remote island. And while doing all that, I can still get my financial alerts. Wow, the beauty of being a mobile worker!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Let's get to the core first

For the past few weeks, I had been blogging about SAP and all its applications such as those tiny xApps for specialized industries. I figured to understand all those, we need to dissect the very foundation where most of these applications run on.

Enter SAP Netweaver.

SAP NetWeaver is the technology platform of this ERP giant. It is also the very foundation for all SAP solutions ever since the SAP Business Suite and is marketed both as integration technology and service oriented application as well. Most of the development and runtime environment for SAP applications are taken cared of by Netweaver systems integration and custom development.

SAP NetWeaver is built on open and de facto standards in the industry. As such, it could be quite easy to extend and interoperate with other technologies coming from other developers such as IBM WebSphere, Java EE and even its competitor Microsoft .NET (Well, Microsoft offers ERP applications too).

Having a business enterprise run on a single and integrated platform can greatly boost performance. For one, it could be easy to manage all enterprise data so that a company can get an accurate picture on the strong and weak points of the operations. From that, business decision makers can take appropriate actions and innovate for the weaker aspects of the business in order to keep up with the competition. Netweaver has been referred by ERP professionals as a type of "applistructure", referring to "applications + infrastructure". This is not really exclusive to SAP in general or Netweaver in particular as other vendors such as Microsoft and Oracle are into this technology as well. Some of the advantages of "applistructure" include operations flexibility (such as the ability to manage various industries operated by one company), easy applications integration (ability to integrate different modules from a software suite) and open standards (integrating different business solutions coming from different vendors).

SAP NetWeaver platform is composed of the following core components anchoring on an active professional SAP community and SAP Development Network (SDN) knowledge repository: SAP NetWeaver Application Server , SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence, SAP NetWeaver Master Data Management, SAP NetWeaver Process Integration, SAP NetWeaver Mobile, SAP NetWeaver Portal, Knowledge Management and SAP NetWeaver Composition Environment.

SAP has been the world's top Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions vendors. Its influence on the business applications industry has resulted in team ups with top hardware vendors like IBM and HP for the development of appliances – technically hardware + software – which are geared towards simplification and enhancement of the deployment of SAP Netweaver components.

The SAP BI Accelerator is one such appliance. This technology is preinstalled on a particular hardware and is used in speeding up Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) queries and in eliminating the need for aggregations.

SAP NetWeaver is just one of the products in the SAP stack. Tomorrow, I will try elaborate on the run time environment for all SAP applications, the SAP Web Application Server.

Until then, have a profitable day!

Boosting Oracle's Communications Global Business Unit

Oracle announced on September 2, 2007 that it has plans to buy Netsure Telecom Limited, a Dublin, Ireland based communications intelligence and analytics provider. According to some, the transaction will be closed sometime in late September this year. But as of the moment when the deal is still open, both companies are still operating independently.
For sure, this acquisition, which I hope will really materialize as soon as possible, will give Oracle's Communications Global Business Unit a boost. The Oracle's Communications Global Business Unit has already been known in the industry as great tool for delivering compelling communications-specific applications to service providers.

According to Oracle Senior Vice President and General Manager, Bhaskar Gorti, "The addition of Netsure's products to Oracle's comprehensive communications applications suite is expected to help Oracle's customers improve network utilization, optimize capacity planning and financial modeling, and streamline end-to-end network lifecycle management."
Gorti further said "In conjunction with Oracle's ERP, supply chain, inventory management and network discovery solutions, Oracle plans to provide service providers the ability to improve their network ROI and increase their operational efficiency as they launch, deploy and profit from next-generation IP services."

When Netsure finally works in conjunction with Oracle Communications application product suite when the acquisition shall have been completed, the new combination will enhance an implementing companies business intelligence capacity and analytics for their network domain. Netsure's solutions are both product based and open standards compliant. This means that the capabilities of Netsure's products can easily integrate with Oracle's network inventory, provisioning, and financial asset management applications. With this integration, companies are expected to have enabled service providers in order to improve modeling and optimization, proactive network planning and as a result, operational costs will definitely be reduced while utilization and efficiency of both leased and owned network will be increased.

Netsure's has been backed by an executive team that has extensive experience in the oftware and telecommunications industries. Active Network Optimisation product suite has been popular among big companies in Europe for its reliability in such diverse aspects as network investment, capacity utilization and planning efficiency, data integrity.

Professionals in the business solutions industry have been speculating that Oracle's acquisition spree has been borne out of its unrelenting quest to take the place of SAP as the largest software provider. In fact, Oracle has been investing heavily in the communications software area and has shelled out about 220 million dollars to snap up Portal Sofware.

Other companies that have picked up by Oracle include MetaSolve Software, Net4Call, HotSip and Telephony@Work. Oracle claimed that the move is about making an end-to-end packaged software suite which is designed for efficient process in the communication industry.

For some, this acquisition fee is unfair move in the competition as many want to capitalize on innovation from the in-house. For me, I don't really care much. If Oracle has the money for acquiring other solutions and integrating into their own, then so be it. In the people, most business people really care about the totality of the package and what it does. They don’t care much about the skeletal system as long as the system as a whole makes their lives a lot easier.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Oracle Fusion

When Oracle Corporation has announced that it will release a new suite of ERP related applications dubbed as Fusion, the news greatly clarified the vision of Oracle for its applications strategies which has been a point of concern in relation to customers of PeopleSoft, which Oracle bought for $10 billion. Fusion was expected to serve as a point of migration for customers all the three Oracle platforms.

Oracle Fusion is a middleware. It is portfolio of standards bases software application products. Oracle Fusion spans many services which include J2EE and developer tools, integration services, business intelligence, collaboration, and content management. But lot of the products which are being marketed under the Fusion Middleware banner are not really middleware products themselves. Fusion is just some sort of re-branding move for many products of Oracle outside of their core database and applications software offerings.

Another intended use of Oracle Fusion is to support the development, deployment, and management of Service-Oriented Architecture. This middleware can easily leverage existing software investments such as from IBM, Microsoft and SAP (All of them are Oracle's competitors in ERP), through a pluggable architecture.

Oracle Fusion is a Java-based, service-oriented architecture that has an automated upgrade process from PeopleSoft, Oracle and J.D. Edwards applications. The Oracle Fusion Architecture can provide a robust, very high performance and highly available computing environment. With all these factors that the Oracle Fusion can deliver, a business can have a rich catalog of standard business processes in a wide range of areas such as CRM, ERP, and supply chain management. Evolution is something that cannot be avoided in business as nobody would want to set up a business without having to grow. With Oracle fusion, a company can have a dynamic business process portfolio that can evolve with the company.

Oracle has been careful in defining the line between Oracle and PeopleSoft as both could be though of as one but they need separate marketing image as well. While working on the Fusion, Oracle has made sure it maintained some separation between its Oracle and PeopleSoft development teams.

Oracle Fusion will surely be a great challenge to Oracle's nearest rival in the ERP industry – SAP AG. Oracle has seen Fusion as a revitalizing factor in its aggressive pursuing of leadership in the business applications market. The applications market has a wide array of areas for software solution development including software solutions used for managing corporate functions like sales, human resources and supplier relationships.

As a watcher of competitions among these software giants, I get excited everyday with new developments. SAP is now aggressively marketing its SAP xApps, a range of software products targeted at specific industries and have smaller footprints compared to other ERP implementations. Examples of the xApps include SAP xApp Cost and Quotation Management (SAP xCQM), SAP xApp Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence (SAP xMII), SAP xApp Resource and Portfolio Management (SAP xRPM), SAP xApp Integrated Exploration and Production (SAP xIEP). Despite the develop of a variety of business solutions, the development of software solutions to "Fuse" these things together is always catching up.

Enhancing SAP ERP 6.0

The competition for ERP applications has always been stiff among SAP, Oracle and Microsoft with many more coming in such as Salesforce which is currently in team up with the gain Google.
SAP, the world leader in ERP application, of course does not want to be outdone. To further push its products, SAP released a second enhancement product last month. This enhancement is targeted for large enterprise customers.

The enhancement package encompasses as lot of applications with the vast SAP Enterprise Resource Planning Suite. Upgrades include both horizontal and industry specific components as well as those for the core application and web services which are derived from SAP business solutions.

SAP intends to release these upgrades progressively about two upgrades every year. I think this is a good strategy so as not to overwhelm users with both expenses and learning about new upgrades. Also having to progressively release updates breaks up the massively expensive and time consuming cycle that may IT shops go through in order to have upgrades.
SAP announced its strategy in 2006 and its continuing effort to keep the ERP 6 platform stable until 2010. But for now, the problem that SAP will have to tackle is how customers will scamper to get the upgrades.

It is still hard to say how these upgrades will be accepted by customers. Although many of them say that the strategy of SAP for maintaining a stable core for several years at a time have a good effect, many customers are unsure whether they want to spend some more money or not. Those who have been implementing MySAP ERP 2004 will need to upgrade to ERP 6.0 so that they can get the switch framework functionality which is a required in order for the system to be able to utilize the enhancement packages.

SAP introduced MySAP 2004 two years ago, and SAP ERP 6.0 was introduced just last year in 2006. As of today, there are about 2,800 customers for SAP ERP 6.0. Compared to the approximately 33,000 customers that the company has on its roster, this is a tiny number. As for the MySAP ERP 2004 platform, there are about 6,000 customers.
According to Judith Hurwitz, an analyst with Hurwitz & Associates, "It's always better to have software that is more modular and easier to upgrade, absolutely. That said, these [SAP] implementations are really large. Customers are stuck between a rock and a hard place. I remember talking to a customer who said that to do even a point release is six months of work, and that's just a point release. Upgrading an entire system, you have to check and recheck every area you've done customized work to. You have to test it all."

But for my part, if it was my company that gets confused whether or not to get upgrades, my first consideration would be if my company desperately needs. I am aware that companies need to evolve. If getting SAP ERP 6.0 is beneficial to the evolution and my company can afford it without sacrificing other aspects of the business process, I would acquire it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Better wage for SAP professionals with security certification

Nobody can dispute the fact the SAP professionals are some of the best paid people in the industry. And they can made their wages even better when they get themselves certified in the area of security.

It was in the early 2000 when certified IT professionals were getting premium value compared to those who were non-certified. But in the years of 2004 and 2005, the ground started getting leveled for both certified and non-certified IT guys.

But there was an exception – and this exception was in the area of security.

It does not take a genius to figure out why. With today's business processes getting more diverse and complex, and data warehouses are springing up to serve business organizations operating in different countries, companies will surely get paranoid with data security.

According to David Foote, CEO of New Canaan, Conn.-based Foote Partners LLC, is research showed that over the last six months, there was an increase of 2.2 percent in pay for security certification. If you look at the figure, it may seem so small but security certification was the only aspect in IT certification that got an increase in value. So many administrators and technology staff are starting to consider investing in security certifications.

Says Foote "To get a CEO or head of a line of business to pay attention to security, you don't say, 'We need to invest in security as an insurance policy.' You say, 'Our customers are unhappy'. The moment they hear customers are unhappy with service or a product, they tend to move -- this is what's been moving security."
While there are many security certified IT professional clamoring to get into SAP jobs for better pay, SAP professionals getting into security certification can get a better edge in the competition. Security certification for SAP professional specializing in roles such as basis administrator can get optimum advantage with security certifications because companies prefer to hire only one staff instead of having a separate SAP administrator and a security professional to handle a certain aspect of the enterprise. I think this integration of SAP and security career is part of the whole integration going on in the ERP world.
This security certification thing will make sense if a company understands how complex SAP integration is. SAP is the world's largest business software company and in terms or revenue, it is the third largest independent software provider It focuses on six industry sectors - Process industries, Discrete industries, Consumer industries, Service industries, Financial services, and Public services making its solution very diversified. And now with the offering of its xApps that can be deployed online, security will all the more become an increasing issue.
As more and more companies using SAP are moving some of their critical business processes exposed to the internet, investing in security certification to complement a SAP skill set will definitely mean higher pay for a professional. Now is the time to start considering a certification.

Oracle E-business Suite – Logistics

The breaking of geographical boundaries has brought new challenges to many business organizations nowadays. Some countries have opened their economy to trade globalization making most companies more profitable because of the many choices they can have in relation to raw goods importation, finished products exportation and even human resource outsourcing. The act of managing and controlling the flow of energy, information and goods is called logistics. Today's logistics include management of resources such products, services and people from the production source to the marketplace.

With today's international business trading scenario, it would definitely be difficult, even near impossible, to manage these logistical resources without the help of software logistical applications.

The Oracle E-Business Suite Logistics family of applications answers the needs in logistical areas such international trading, global import and export process, and international repositioning of products and materials for manufacturing. This software solution is designed for complex distribution operations and helps manage inbound and outbound transportation which are major activities of production and marketing.

Like all applications within the Oracle E-Business Suite, the Oracle Logistics application is all about unification – in this case, unification of data models in order to give the company a single and accurate picture of the whole logistics process. With a unified view, it would be extremely easy to plan, manage and control all processes pertaining to the storage and flow of services and goods from factory to the market.

Oracle logistics closely integrates with Oracle Radio Frequency Identification (RFID. RFID makes possible accurate tracking of assets as well as monitoring of key indicators. RFID tags work together with different types of radio sensors and tracking technologies such as global positioning system for fast or real time monitoring of business processes.

DHL, a world leader in express and logistics company, has invested in RFID technology with Oracle applications in order to create optimized value for its shipping and logistical processes and to extend its supply chain visibility to both customers and partners.

To help optimize asset usage Oracle logistics leverages all assets to reduce operating costs. The Oracle Transportation Management works with the Logistics in delivering robust transportation planning. It efficiently handles cooperation among the business organization, its shippers and third party logistics provider. Among the features of the Oracle Transportation Management are Freight Payment, Billing, and Claims, Transportation Sourcing, Forwarding and Brokerage Operations, Transportation Operational Planning and Logistics Inventory Visibility.

The Oracle Logistics applications make use of the best technologies available int a multiple collaboration method for connectivity. It utilized the web through an online portal with secure remote access from all locations for all trading partners. It supports XML and OAGI XML standards for guaranteed secure one-time delivery. It's email system guarantees constant updates and follow up as well as notification of activity on business documents.

Going global with a business venture will never be headache anymore with Oracle Logistics to deploy and manage the organization. With its multi-lingual, multi-currency, multi-org, multi-national capabilities, a company operating in several countries will get the feel of being in one central location.

The SAP xApp Analytics

If you have not been a user of SAP and don’t have any idea yet about analytics, perhaps you might want to try Google Analytics service. It is for free. So, with Google analytics, one can see so many things about the activities of one's website. With Google Analytics, one can view who have visited the website, from what countries, cities and localities the visits are coming from, which page has the most activities, what keywords were used to find the page using what search engines, and more. Analytics are a great tool to give one a greater picture of the company and how capitalize on the strong aspects of the operation in order for the company to be profitable and get headed for growth.
The same is true for SAP xApp Analytics, only that the xApp is more detailed and powerful. This application can help a company aggregate, normalize, classify enrich all sort of data coming from various sources.
I read on Fortune Magazine an article stating that about 90 percent of business organizations today have failed to execute processes based on their corporate strategy simply because they lack effective means for aligning their action with strategic initiatives. In fact a study has shown that only 5 percent of the workforce in a typical business organization understands corporate strategy and only 25 percent of management incentives are linked to strategy.
With that record, it is apparent is the need for organized information to help companies have strategic imperatives down to their process level. And a good Analytics tool can help companies achieve these strategies.
SAP xApp Analytics provides facts-based view and understanding of all company customers including prospects. It is also encompasses understanding about partners, suppliers, employers and more. This knowledge is imperative to achieving both strategic and operational processes.
Let us take the case the CRM capabilities which are supported by SAP xApp Analytics. CRM delivers key performance indicators straight to the business user and SAP xApp can help the company analyze won or lost opportunities over time while assessing relative potential sales and gaining a quick view of orders to stocks. SAP xApp Analytics can also enable key company managers and administrators have a picture of important KPIs for service level agreement compliance, server order details and other customer related reports. SAP xApp Analytics can help retrieve data related to planning from the CRM system and compare the said data with actual progress. This can give company staff a clear view whether certain margins are achieved or not. The transactional integration of SAP xApp Analytics with the back end system can also help some cases where breaches occur. For instance, if there is a breach at call service level, SAP xApp Analytics can automatically send notifications to the customer service management.
Having an analytics tool is a great investment with a huge potential ROI in whatever industry the business operates in. SAP xApp Analytics can support many industries from aerospace to chemicals to telecommunications to utilities.

Oracle Learning Management (OLM)

One of the biggest forces that affect the overall success of the business comes from human resources. For many companies, hiring the best minds and the best attitudes is just the preliminary stage of keeping a brilliant workforce. But most the task associated with the human resource department is in constantly upgrading the skills, attitudes and knowledge of the workers about the ins and outs of the business operation.

Many companies spend large amounts of money to send their staff to study. But as the business grows, more expense will be needed as more staff will be hired to the workforce and these people need to be constantly trained and upgraded too.

The Oracle Learning Management (OLM) could be a great help in the learning aspect of workers in the company. Instead of sending the employees to study outside, which may mean added spending, the OLM can help the company with classroom based trainings. The OLM can give workers the learning they need at the time appropriate for them. Because of the application's great flexibility, it can allow managers to automate some key business flows such as order processing and performance appraisals and keep track of the employees learning and development activities.

Oracle Learning Management has been developed to support all levels of education through a single unified learning delivery system. All areas of the business enterprise, from the workforce to applicants, customers to partners, can avail of the education system about the very nature of the business organization

The Oracle Learning Management is web-based so it can be easily accessed anywhere. It offers full management of competencies related to workforce, structured learning paths, educational certifications, and a unified catalog in a central location. Tests and exams can be easily created to monitor the learning progress of the participants.

Because of the unique need for employee to juggle studies and work at the same time, Oracle Learning Management's can allow its participants to manage their own learning progress based on their goals. The learning path could group together specific courses which target to certain community in order to focus training investment on critical jobs. There are a variety of purposes that the learning path can be packaged for such as for role based paths, performance remediation, and career development. The three learning paths supported by OLM are catalog, manager-created, and learner-created.

The OLM easily integrates with Oracle’s talent management applications so that administrators and managers can make learning paths based on performance appraisals and other processes

As they say, time is gold and this is even more applicable to business organizations. Implementing Oracle Learning Management can make companies ensure that all learners optimize their learning time in the least time possible. As part of OLM's "student policy", the application enables managers to restrict enrollment to certain employees who are qualified for a specific course. Requiring prerequisites for course and competency makes sure that those studying will have a minimum mandatory level or expertise before they are admitted to a class. If they don’t, they will be advised to take the prerequisites first.