Plattner to Gates: “Tear down that wall”

ORLANDO, Fla. — Hasso Plattner wants Bill Gates to reconsider his position on the Java Virtual Machine and make it easier for companies like SAP AG to work with the software giant.

“”We have a certain situation in the world and most are

not coming forward. I will risk it. It’s someone we all have to work with – Bill Gates – to get him to change his opinion as to what is allowed to be around Windows and what is not,”” said SAP CEO Plattner, speaking during his keynote at Sapphire 2002 in Orlando Wednesday, the company’s annual user conference.

Paraphrasing words uttered 15 years ago by U.S. president Ronald Reagan, Plattner said, “”Mr. Gates, tear down that wall,”” and noted that Mikhail Gorbachev was later quoted as saying, “”If you come too late, history will punish you.””

The Java Virtual Machine (JVM) is a Java interpreter that converts the Java intermediate language into machine language and executes it. The original JVM came from Sun Microsystems. Subsequently, other vendors developed their own, including Microsoft’s Virtual Machine, which serves as its Java interpreter. A JVM is incorporated into a Web browser in order to execute Java applets. Microsoft’s environment gives it control over who gets to participate in its platform.

Plattner said SAP has built the Java Virtual Machine into its front-end applications, but at the same time wants to “”work with Microsoft and compete with them too.”” However, Windows XP was shipped with a JVM.

“”Bill Gates shouldn’t hinder innovation, that’s not his style, so please, change your mind.””

Plattner also made mention of Microsoft’s .Net initiative and commented that he still sees a rift between it and rival Web services platform J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition). The promise of Web services can’t be delivered on incompatible platforms, he said. “”The world is splitting up again. It’s up to you to change that.””

SAP’s own Web Dynpro design environment is the future of the user interface for SAP applications, he added. It will replace Enjoy SAP as a front-end for mySAP portal users. Plattner said the focus on HTML- and XML-based (Extensible Mark-up Language) Web Dynpro suggests a prominent role of Web services in SAP’s applications.

Despite its reputation as a software firm with solutions for large corporations, Plattner spoke often about SAP’s desire to also serve smaller customers. He discussed the adoption of SAP Business One: software created to assist small companies and remote offices of large companies that would not typically have access to information held in a central location. The application covers 90 per cent of business requirements and can be installed in one day, he said.

“”When I told people here about it yesterday they started laughing,”” Plattner admitted, but insisted the software, first announced in March, has been up and running in 800 sites — primarily in Israel, Poland, Greece and Turkey — and will now begin to roll-out in North America.

SAP Business One offers features including financial, materials management and procurement information.

“”It rolls up information to the headquarters system whether you are running R/3 or mySAP. So someone sitting in the sales office remotely has access to central information about products and supply chain information regardless of the location,”” he said. “”We can build systems that are much more adaptable to the people using it.””

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