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SAP Aids Utilities in Compliance Woes

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Posted February 22, 2005 By Clint Boulton     Feedback

SAP looks to curry favor for its distributed computing approach among electricity, water and gas companies.

SAP AG is helping utility companies leverage Web services to help them more efficiently deal with deregulated markets and new compliance issues.

SAP is blending its NetWeaver application platform, loaded with business intelligence tools, to help electricity, gas and water companies use Web services in an offering called SAP for Utilities.

The plan, announced at the Fifth SAP International Utilities Conference 2005 this week in Vienna, Austria, is one facet of the German giant's strategy for services-oriented architecture (SOA) , which leverages Web services for distributed computing.

According to a statement, utility vendors can customize data exchange processes between companies and adapt workflow processes, such as supplier switch, reconciliation and settlement and payment processing.

For example, when a customer switches from one utility to another, the disparate applications supporting individual processes, such as meter reading, billing and reconciliation can be rearranged according to a new process flow.

SAP for Utilities also addresses the needs of customers in deregulated markets by providing compliance management and analytics capabilities.

But mapping out technology and processes for the utilities industry is a tricky chore, which is why the new SAP road map addresses forthcoming deregulation requirements such as "unbundling."

By 2007, utilities in the European Union and other countries must separate their previously bundled generation, distribution and retail operations. SAP is proposing NetWeaver and Enterprise Services Architecture as an SOA option.

E.ON Ruhrgas AG is making a smooth transition to SAP NetWeaver by integrating its databases with SAP Business Intelligence and SAP Enterprise Portal for reporting, analytics and information delivery, said Rudiger Erbe, team leader of IT support for SAP Financials at E.ON Ruhrgas AG.

SAP for Utilities is the company's latest effort to garner new customers and market share in the competitive software space, where it competes with No. 2 applications maker Oracle.

SAP has acted aggressively to thwart Oracle's purchase of PeopleSoft by acquiring PeopleSoft and J.D Edwards support provider TomorrowNow.

By delving into software infrastructure with its NetWeaver and SOA plans, the Germany-based vendor will also find itself at odds with IBM and BEA Systems, among others.

This is unlikely to deter SAP, which boasts a huge customer base of more than 26,000. SAP is also emboldened by a strong pact to integrate NetWeaver and Microsoft .NET.

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