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Ardent Software Enters the SAP Data Extraction Market

Written By: M. Reed
Published On: September 13 1999

Event Summary

Ardent Software, Incorporated of Westboro, Massachusetts (NASDAQ: ARDT) has announced support for extraction from SAP R/3 and also loading to SAP BW (Business Information Warehouse) using its DataStage Release 3.6. Ardent is referring to the new feature as the Packaged Application Connection Kit (PACK). With the DataStage Extract PACK for SAP R/3, users will be able to extract data directly from SAP R/3 systems natively and integrate it with data from other sources into their data warehouse. With the DataStage Load PACK for SAP BW, users will be able to load data into SAP BW. Ardent has stated that the Load PACK adheres to the SAP standard interface protocol, known as BAPI.

Ardent's DataStage Extraction PACK is available now on Windows. UNIX availability is stated to be within 60 days of the initial August 17th announcement. The DataStage Load PACK is also expected within 60 days on both NT and UNIX.

Market Impact

For many reasons, SAP customers want to be able to extract their enterprise data from the SAP data store and consolidate it with other information in their data warehouse or data mart. As an example, many have long been frustrated by the difficulty of producing reports that integrate SAP data with data from other sources. However, very few of the ETL ("Extract/Transform/Load") tool vendors have produced modules that allow extraction from SAP. The vendors have had difficulty due to the specialized knowledge of SAP required to produce the custom code which could "understand" SAP's internal data formats.

Ardent's entry into this market will give it leverage with any corporation that uses SAP's Enterprise Resource Planning system. The ability to integrate ERP systems with data warehouses and provide true enterprise-wide information is crucial to many corporate efforts. The widespread use of SAP outside of North America should also help Ardent in their international sales efforts.

User Recommendations

The vendor's code has to be customized to be able to handle all of the various modules. There are many such modules, and some large customers have had customization done for them by SAP. In addition, there are some specialized modules, such as "ISH", a module written for hospitals in Singapore. These customizations and specializations must be taken into account in the vendor's code. Given the recent release of the product, users must identify the breadth and depth of the specific SAP modules supported.

The second question that must be asked is how Ardent is handling changed data capture. In order to capture changes within the SAP data store without scanning all of the contents of every table, some technology must be put in place to recognize only the data which has been altered. SAP has a technology referred to as IDOCs (Intermediate Documents) which can facilitate this.

 
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