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Executive Interview: SAP Labs' Dennis Moore

As the senior vice president for SAP's Cross Applications Division at SAP Labs, Dennis Moore is driving SAP's embrace of composite applications. Such applications, which comprise multiple Web services, should simplify how solution providers integrate SAP with other applications. In an interview with CRN Editor-in-Chief Michael Vizard, Moore talks about how SAP is making it easier for solution providers to partner with the company and explains how composite applications, combined with SAP's X-Application framework and NetWeaver application integration engine, will change the nature of enterprise computing.

CRN: How will solution providers now find it easier to work with SAP?

MOORE: There were always two issues. One was the technology and second was the business model that makes it compelling for different companies to work together. Over the past two years, there has been a great improvement in the technical capability of integrating with SAP. And Web services standards will make it a little bit easier for partners to build a composite applications that will work on a PeopleSoft, SAP backbone or someone else's environment. Today, we have about 15 x-apps partner products in the pipe line. Over time, 80 percent of those applications will be built by partners.

That leads to the business model issue. SAP has become a partner-friendly ecosystem. We understand that partners need to create value for our customers in a way that would be more economically efficient for us than if we were to create it. In the past, there were enormous costs to join the partner program and all kinds of education you had to do. And you had to have an executive sponsor and three customers. We're using partners in a much more strategic way rather than the more tactical view that many enterprise software companies had. The result is that there is a sustainable area in the ecosystem. And we are going to have to do much better as an ecosystem host than we have been before. I think over the past few years with programs like Powered By NetWeaver, we've really had huge success in that direction.

CRN: How does one become an SAP partner and how many levels are there?
MOORE: As part of our application partner nomination process, we select one and only one partner for each topic area. We have another program called Powered By NetWeaver where we can have as many partners as are interested. [At the lowest level is] our SAP Partner Network. The Powered By NetWeaver program is a level above SPN membership. Anybody can be a member of SPN. Powered By NetWeaver is a program where people develop solutions. So the top of the pyramid is the partner program where we have both services and application partners. We don't have technology partners there. The technology partners are all part of the Powered By NetWeaver program.

CRN: How do you work with the higher level application partners in terms of going to market?
MOORE: SAP markets jointly with the partner. We book the order on our paper so customers are not afraid of the risk because we stand behind it and we guarantee that we will keep it working even if the partner doesn't survive. Having a relationship with SAP is not a bad thing. But now we're making a simpler program to understand. When a company submits a nomination, it is evaluated by the industry and business product groups where it is closely related. If they agree that that is not a space that they have an immediate interest in building their own products, then we go to market with the partner after they have passed the technical certification. We help them with the engineering. We help them with the design. And we help them with the recruitment of hiring customers for feedback.

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