SAP offers first peek at Mendocino in action

Software maker shows off some of the functions it plans to deliver via its tech tie-up with Microsoft, and customers like what they see.

BOSTON--Enterprise software maker SAP displayed the first examples of the business applications being developed through its technology integration partnership with Microsoft here on Thursday.

Presenting at the business software specialist's Sapphire customer conference, Shai Agassi, a member of SAP's executive board and one of its chief technologists, offered a peek at some of the benefits the enterprise applications giant will derive through its effort with Microsoft, a tie-up that has been code-named Mendocino.

"This is a great example of a technology deployment to the masses."
--John Cirone
CIO, Interpublic Group

The first glimpse of the jointly developed technology came in the form of a customized version of Microsoft's dominant Outlook e-mail software that has been linked with SAP's enterprise resource planning, or ERP, applications. Agassi showed how customers using the new system can access information in SAP's applications, such as its project management system or human resources software, directly from Outlook.

As an example, the executive showed how an individual could enter information about his or her working hours into Outlook's calendar system and have that information fed directly into SAP's business project tracking applications. Based on the demonstration by Agassi, the Mendocino effort essentially creates a new SAP task bar in Outlook for customers using both of the company's products. In another instance, the executive displayed how someone working in the Mendocino-tailored version of the e-mail software could access data produced by SAP's analytical software without ever leaving the Outlook interface.

Tools built through the partnership will become generally available in SAP's products in the second half of next year and early customer trials will start at the end of 2005, executives from Microsoft and SAP said.

Ballmer weighs in
"We think this is something that can fundamentally make SAP applications easier to use, and we've been waiting to do this for a long time," Agassi said. "We believe that this can affect every SAP user in a very positive way."

In a taped segment shown during the demonstration, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said the joint work with SAP would "revolutionize" the way people access and interact with business applications. At the same time, Microsoft was busy showing off some of the new features it will offer in the next generation of its Office business package, in which Outlook is a central element.

Microsoft and SAP said their joint development effort involves hundreds of developers, and reported that each company will be able to sell the products produced through the partnership. Mendocino-bred tools will be an add-on to SAP ERP 2004, the latest version of SAP's back-end business suite, as well as Microsoft's Office System 2003. The companies will initially release five applications with Mendocino for tasks including creating reports, and expect to release more programs over time.

Using Mendocino, SAP is trying to drive more "seats," or end user licenses of its applications. For Microsoft, the closer integration with SAP fits the company's strategy to drive upgrades

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