SAP launches SOA and RFID products

CeBIT: German supply chain software company has designed 53 applications based on service-oriented architecture

SAP, the German supply-chain software company, has taken advantage of the Hanover trade fair, CeBIT, to launch a raft of service-oriented architecture offerings for medium-sized companies 

To date, SAP's third-party developers have created a total of 53 applications based on service-oriented architecture (SOA), to run on SAP's ERP 2005 platform, the company said on Thursday.

"The new solutions [which SAP brands 'All-in-One'] unleash the power of enterprise SOA in the world's largest portfolio of micro-vertical solutions designed specifically for midsize companies," said SAP's president for SMEs, Hans-Peter Klaey.

SAP also said on Thursday that it would start offering embedded radio-frequency identification (RFID) software and other auto-identification technologies, which will be managed by a newly created object event repository.

RFID is used to log the assets of a business at short distances; it consists in its simplest form of radio tags, bar codes and sensors. It allows individual items to be tagged and then electronically tracked, and it can be used by retailers to track shipments and monitor stock levels, both in the supply chain and on the shop floor. RFID tags are also used in some travel cards, such as London's Oyster cards.

"SAP's introduction of its object event repository and the new processes it enables, such as product tracking and authentication, represents a significant step in the evolution of RFID," said John Fontanella, vice president of AMR Research, in a statement. "Companies have been waiting for their enterprise software vendors to build applications and analytical tools that can take advantage of RFID.

"In addition to tackling regulatory compliance issues, it also opens up a wealth of information to help companies validate product sources, better respond to supply chain events, or even offer value-added services to customers," Fontanella added.

SAP believes the biggest uptake of its RFID offering will be in the pharmaceutical industry, where drugs are often stolen or misplaced.

The embedded RFID software will be made available during the second quarter of 2007.

RFID tagging has sparked opposition from some activists, who believe it threatens personal privacy. The European Commission recently launched a public consultation into RFID. But despite these concerns, many companies have embraced RFID. Recently, Tesco started using radio tags to track its milk deliveries.