Last Updated: 27th November, 2012
Analyst Coverage: Simon Holloway, David Norfolk


SAP AG is a German multinational software corporation that develops and markets ERP solutions supported by infrastructure products. The company was founded by 5 German software engineers (Dietmar Hopp, Klaus Tschira, Hans-Werner Hector, Hasso Plattner, and Claus Wellenreuther), originaly from IBM, in June 1972, as a private partnership under the German Civil Code. In 1976, "SAP GmbH" was founded. In August 1988, SAP GmbH transferred into SAP AG and was publicly traded later that year on the Frankfurt and Stuutgart stock exchanges. In 1995, SAP was included in the German stock index DAX and in 2003 SAP was included in the Dow Jones STOXX 50.

SAP's first commercial product, SAP R/1, was launched in 1973. It offered a common system for multiple business tasks, allowing the use of centralised data storage, thus improving the maintenance of the data. In 1979, SAP launched SAP R/2, expanding the capabilities of the system to other areas, such as material management and production planning. SAP R/3 (its flagship product) was released in 1992.

During the middle 90's SAP moved to support client server architecture with R/3. SAP developed an underpinning infrastructure. SAP Netweaver, first released in 2004, and is marketed as a service-oriented application and integration platform, providing the development and runtime environment for SAP applications. It is built using primarily the ABAP programming language, but also uses C, C++, and Java EE.

In 2008, SAP acquired Business Objects and added its BI products to its portfolio. In 2010, SAP acquired Sybase in a major acquisition move, adding its own database capability and a strong mobile solution (it then found that it had acquired even more useful technology with Sybase than it had expected). In December 2011, SAP AG agreed to buy SuccessFactors Inc. thus increasing its competitiveness in the cloud computing market. In May 2012, SAP AG announced acquisition of Ariba Inc., with its Business Commerce Network.

SAP ERP Solutions

Last Updated: 20th May, 2013

SAP's products focus on ERP. The company's main product is SAP ERP. The current version is SAP ERP 6.0 and is part of the SAP Business Suite. Its previous name was R/3. SAP ERP is one of five enterprise applications in SAP's Business Suite. The other four applications are:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) - helps companies acquire and retain customers, gain marketing and customer insight
  • Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) - helps manufacturers with product-related information
  • Supply Chain Management (SCM) - helps companies with the process of resourcing its manufacturing and service processes
  • Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) - enables companies to procure from suppliers

Whilst SAP ERP is targeted and used typically by Fortune 500 companies, SAP now actively targets SMEs with 3 different ERP products:

  • SAP Business All-in-One is based on the SAP ERP product, tailored for midsize companies. The package comes with a templated implementation methodology. Each partner remarkets and adapts the package for a specific industry sector. It is aimed at companies with up to 2,500 users. There are more than 1,200 channel partners providing more than 700 industry-specific solutions. SAP offers All-in-One as a hosted option.
  • SAP Business One is SAP's entry level product aimed at customers with up to 100 users. It has limited customisation for specific sectors not supporting Aerospace, Defence, Life Sciences, Oil and Gas, and Utilities. There are more than 1,150 channel partners; providing more than 550 add-on solutions, many industry-specific.
  • SAP Business ByDesign is a fully integrated, SaaS business solution used by medium-sized companies to run their mission-critical business processes. It is aimed at company with between 100 - 500 users. It has an even more limited customisation for specific sectors than Business One. There are a limited number of partners available to support this option.

SAP ERP is aimed st Fortune 500 companies.

SAP Business All-in-One is aimed at companies with up to 2,500 employees.

SAP Business One is SAP's entry level product aimed at customers with up to 100 users.

SAP Business ByDesign is aimed at companies with between 100 - 500 users.

All SAP solutions can be found across all verticals.

SAP NetWeaver is SAP's integrated technology computing platform and provides the development and runtime environment for SAP applications. It is built using primarily the ABAP programming language, but also uses C, C++, and Java EE and  also employs open standards and industry de facto standards.

NetWeaver is essentially the integrated stack of SAP technology products. The SAP Web Application Server (sometimes referred to as WebAS) is the runtime environment for the SAP applications-all of the mySAP Business Suite solutions (SRM, CRM, SCM, PLM, ERP) run on SAP WebAS.

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