Users of SAP business software will soon be able to pick and choose between elements, even integrating them with applications from other providers, thanks to a new open-standards policy.
A new service, called MySAP Technology, will give developers Web access to SAP software, allowing them to tailor elements of the MySAP line - which includes electronic commerce applications as well as ERP (enterprise resource management) and CRM (customer relations management) functions - to their individual needs.
"What our customers have repeatedly asked us for since the mid-nineties is openness; openness so that we can integrate our software with other software components which are there and will be there for the long haul," said Hasso Plattner, SAP's chief executive officer and co-founder.
"The question of openness directly ties in to the cost of implementation and cost of ownership," he continued, adding that maintaining the links between different systems consumes between 60 and 75 per cent of many companies' IT budgets.
The move marks a departure from the way business software makers have previously operated, SAP said, in that customers will now be able to update and add flexibility to existing systems, instead of having to "rip and replace" expensive infrastructure.
Gartner analyst Bruce Bond said the move would be of most interest to existing clients.
"If you are a current SAP user, and you're thinking you want to develop some stuff in Java, this is a good move. But people are not going to say, I'm going to buy this instead of IBM or BEA.' "