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SAP looks into Web services revamp

Researchers are studying how to make the German company's line of business applications easier to use, with Web services technology likely to figure prominently in the finished product.

A team of researchers at software maker SAP is studying how to make the company's line of business applications easier to use and modify, an effort within the company known by the code name Project Vienna.

Project Vienna is one of the driving forces behind many technology initiatives, including a new software architecture dubbed NetWeaver, that the company has launched over the past year or so, SAP spokesman Bill Wohl said on Friday.

The research project has been underway for more than a year, and the work coming out of it should find its way into SAP's software products this year, Wohl said. He remained vague about what it actually plans to deliver and when, but said Web services technology will figure prominently.

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The German company-?along with much of the software industry--has been talking for some time about Web services, a set of data communication standards. SAP has said that Web services will help reduce costly software integration and customization work for customers by replacing today's clunky business systems with an easier mix-and-match design. SAP plans to discuss its progress on this front within the next month or two, Wohl said.

Project Vienna is under the purview of Peter Zencke, a SAP executive board member, and his team of application architecture specialists, consisting of about 700 software engineers, Wohl said.

SAP, which competes with Oracle, PeopleSoft and Siebel Systems, makes a broad collection of applications designed to streamline accounting, human resources, customer service and other business tasks.