The SAP Co-Innovation Lab has been pushing engagements with partners forward months before the official opening, making significant progress in areas such as enterprise service-oriented architecture and SAP ERP.
Projects up and running
In one project, SAP and its partner VMware Japan developed a methodology for using virtualization technology to reduce the time and cost of upgrades to SAP ERP. Using VMware snapshot capabilities, the two companies have enabled customers to perform upgrades in a staged approach in which they can roll back to previous snapshots when they encounter issues that would have been costly to rectify otherwise. In a traditional, physical upgrade, the customer would have to either spend valuable time and resources solving the issue or start the upgrade anew.
Virtualization, one of focus areas at the SAP Co-Innovation Lab in Palo Alto as well, has already brought customers valuable returns. San Francisco-based EFI, a leading digital print service provider, implemented the VMware Infrastructure 3 environment to upgrade its SAP modules. With the VMware virtualization environment, the company cut the upgrade period from six months to four. And they were able to pack in more testing throughout the upgrade.
The actual benefit of virtualization
Peace of mind from the snapshot capability isn’t all though; customers can upgrade on this virtualization environment using the server capacity already in place, instead of having to purchase new hardware in preparation for their upgrade.
Japanese customer Taiyo Kogyo Corporation, which constructed the roof of the famous Tokyo Dome, migrated its existing Unix and MS Windows-based SAP R/3 installation to the VMware virtualization environment to optimize the usage of existing servers. The company estimates a cost saving of $1.6 million over the next five years. The savings arise from a reduction in the number of required servers, reduced data center space, and the elimination of license support costs.
According to Tetsuji Morita, Senior Technology Alliance Manager of VMware K.K., “Customers often have concerns about implementing new technologies such as virtualization – especially if it can affect systems as critical to their business as SAP. The fact is, however, that VMware Infrastructure operates like a physical infrastructure. So we are working very closely with SAP to develop a best-practices deployment guide for SAP upgrades on our virtualization environment.”
The fruits of SAP’s and VMware’s efforts in virtualization don’t stop with SAP ERP. As Morita explains, the technology has great potential for other applications in the SAP Business Suite: for SAP CRM, SAP PLM, SAP SCM, and SAP SRM. “In time, we will be able to achieve cost and time savings by deploying any SAP application in a virtual environment,” he says.
Co-innovation in practice
But before the two companies could define these best practices, they had to familiarize themselves with each other’s offerings. This is where the SAP Co-innovation Lab in Tokyo has played a vital role. VMware sent several of its employees to the lab to hold technical training sessions as well as provide technical support. Together, SAP and VMware were able to validate the concept of upgrades in a virtual environment.
SAP has invited many other partners to its co-innovation lab in Tokyo. At the July 16 opening, the lab was endorsed by names like ABeam Consulting Ltd., Dell Japan Inc., FUJITSU LIMITED, F5 Networks Japan K.K., HITACHI, Ltd., IBM Business Consulting Services K.K., IBM Japan, Ltd., Intel Corporation, Microsoft Co., Ltd., Mitsubishi Electric Information Systems Corporation, NEC Corporation, NetApp K.K., REALTECH JAPAN Co., Ltd., Sun Microsystems K.K., Tecnos Japan Inc., Toyo Business Engineering Corporation and VMware K.K..
The importance of Japan
The establishment of an SAP Co-Innovation Lab in Japan underscores SAP’s commitment to the world’s second largest economy, says Axel Henning Saleck, vice president in the Global Ecosystem & Partner Group, and head of the SAP Co-Innovation Lab Tokyo. Japanese companies have won their global market share by developing innovative ideas and making their products accessible to many. “Decades back, the ‘just in time’ inventory practice would have been regarded as a ‘Japanese’ process,” Saleck says. “Now it is a worldwide best practice.”
Throughout 2008, SAP Co-Innovation Lab Tokyo will investigate and deliver on innovations spanning technologies in general to specific applications. Projects include continued application of virtualization technology and further investigation of its value for business applications, as well as partner-delivered enterprise services and innovation specific to applications that utilize enterprise SOA, such as SAP Business Suite SAP solutions for small and midsize enterprises.
“The benefit of a co-innovation lab for partners is that they can work innovatively in an environment offering and supporting the latest from SAP – even if the technology has not yet been made generally available,” Saleck says.