SAP HANA – Now with Motion Control

Around 70 participants were present at the IT Business Network event held jointly by SAP and Microsoft on February 15. If any of the attendees were unfamiliar with the longstanding partnership between the two software giants, they may have found the harmonious atmosphere somewhat odd. Although their product portfolios do overlap in a number of areas, including in the cloud and specific business applications, there was no sign of rivalry at this event.

As Goran Guliš of SAP Germany’s ecosystem and partner group emphasized in his opening address, every SAP user is also a Microsoft customer on some level. Practical experience has shown that power users – those who only use SAP GUI – account for just 3% of SAP’s user base. The remaining 85-97% utilize a Microsoft Office front end, have numerous interfaces to other systems at their disposal, and employ their own applications. A heterogeneous IT landscape is part of most companies’ everyday reality. Therefore, the strategic partnership that SAP and Microsoft have maintained since 1993 makes a lot of sense.

The two companies’ collaborative efforts mainly focus on the joint product Duet Enterprise. In addition, SAP software now runs on Microsoft SQL servers, which has earned Microsoft the status of “SAP Global Launch Partner for SQL.” Meanwhile, at the beginning of the IT Business Network event, Kay Jeschke – program manager for the COO Germany area at SAP Germany – surprised those in attendance with a demo of a very special product: SAP HANA with support for motion control through Microsoft Kinect.

Standing in front of his laptop and the Kinect sensor bar like an orchestra director, Jeschke simply gestured with his hands and arms to carry out real-time analyses, with the SAP HANA appliance software processing over three billion data records at every turn of his body. While it has mainly seen use in living rooms on Xbox 360 thus far, the technology is also on its way into the world of business following Microsoft’s announcement of its intention to bring Kinect to Windows PCs.

Those interested in taking Kinect for a spin will have a chance to do so in early March at CeBIT, where Microsoft will have the motion control hardware ready for testing at its Kinect room in Hall 4.

The pages that follow offer more details on the other products SAP and Microsoft have developed together, including:

Microsoft Kinect at CES 2012 in Las Vegas. (Photo: Microsoft)

Duet Enterprise: connecting PCs and SAP applications

Whether it’s for approving vacation requests, generating reports, or managing documents, Duet Enterprise makes it possible to use SAP processes in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 Enterprise Edition and Microsoft Office 2010. The software creates the processes in the target SAP system and executes them with the Microsoft program in question.

Based on the core platforms SAP NetWeaver Gateway and Microsoft SharePoint, Duet Enterprise supports all versions and releases included in SAP Business Suite (SAP Customer Relationship Management, SAP Supplier Relationship Management, and so on). The functions it covers range from workflow approvals, security, collaboration, and reporting to the management of sales, documents, time, application lifecycles, and landscapes.

Users can log in through single sign-on using their usernames, and every entry they make in their SAP systems is immediately synchronized with the corresponding Microsoft application. Monitoring and support, meanwhile, are handled through SAP Solution Manager. The advantage? Every application continues to perform properly following a release upgrade – no matter whether it was carried out on the Microsoft or SAP side.

Since Duet Enterprise was officially announced at CeBIT 2011, several new functions have been added. Feature Pack 1 (FP1), which is based on SAP NetWeaver Gateway 2.0 and requires SAP Solution Manager 7.1, has been providing support for new tools and SAP BusinessObjects applications since September 2011. In addition to enabling users to add in their own content – such as company logos – the upgrade includes a number of Web templates for calendars, contacts, and other information.

For more on Duet Enterprise, check out Microsoft’s overview of the software here.

IT Business Network – a joint event from SAP and Microsoft (Photo: Christiane Stagge)

SAP and Bing Maps

Meanwhile, BGI Solutions CEO Axel Borchert was on hand at the event to demonstrate that SAP software supports not only Google Maps, but Microsoft’s Bing Maps, as well.

Unlike Google Maps, Bing is capable of providing angled images of buildings from a bird’s-eye view. This service, known as Bing Streetside, is now available in over 80 cities and supports multitouch applications for tablet PCs. The German broadcasting stations ARD and Bayerische Rundfunk, for example, have successfully begun using Bing Streetside in reporting the latest sports highlights.

With BGI Location Intelligence for Bing Maps, users can create charts based on individual maps and fill them with various data – all from within a Web browser. BGI Solutions also offers a management cockpit that interfaces with various SAP BusinessObjects applications and SAP solutions for real estate management, including SAP Commerical Real Estate for property lifecycle management and real estate and facilities lifecycle management. In addition, the cockpit makes it possible to calculate routes between customer locations and manage logistics.

The flower delivery company Fleurop is one customer that uses this cockpit for order processing in SAP’s Sales and Distribution (SD) component. With its help, Fleurop’s headquarters can determine which florist should receive the order for a given delivery. The cockpit could also facilitate a similar scenario for scheduling technicians’ assignments in SAP IS-U.

SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation

SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation is based on Microsoft software and utilizes SAP dashboards within Microsoft SharePoint, with Microsoft Excel serving as the front end. The application, which sees use mainly in the financial sector, enables you to generate plans and reports.

Axel Borchert, founder of BGI Solutions, explains the solution portfolio for SAP applications (Photo: Christiane Stagge)
Bing Maps integration into SAP (Photo: Christiane Stagge)