Microsoft and SAP have finally released the polished version of their recent joint Duet program that ties SAP (news, site) software with Microsoft (news, site) applications. In 2005, when the project was originally launched they tied Office with SAP’s enterprise resourced planning software, this time they tie SAP and SharePoint 2010.

The recent announcement that this new version of Duet -- Duet Enterprise -- has been made generally available, should cause some interest in that it connects SharePoint2010 with SAP’s ERP applications, but there will be interest for other reasons.

The First Duet

Not least of these reasons is that when the original version was first introduced in 2005 -- along with an impressive roadmap -- it had a similar goal: to access SAP’s functionality through familiar Office interfaces.

However, in order for this to work, it required a lot of customized tweaking of the fundamental architecture. As a result it never really made in-roads into the market and by some estimates only ever attracted a few hundred users.

At that point Duet slipped below the horizon and leaving aside the odd reference to it at Microsoft or SAP conferences, little was ever really heard about it.

Duet Enterprise

This version, though, could well be different, firstly because it is tied in with SharePoint 2010, whose adoption and deployment across enterprises seems unstoppable, and second because it comes with both pre-configured tools and content, as well as a SDK that should make it easier to customize.

It also seems that the drive to develop Duet Enterprise has come from users of one or both companies’ applications. Eric Swift, Microsoft SharePoint general manager, said that deeper integration between both their products is high on the wish-list of their clients.

Amongst the capabilities is system management, single sign on, user authorization and management, information lifecycle management and data model mapping. SharePoint MySite profiles can also be enhanced using data from SAP applications.

Finally, while the new product has similar features to the existing Duet, it is built on SAP's new Project Gateway integration framework, which provides "easy and standards-based access to SAP applications.”

Partner’s Unite

The possibility for further joint ventures was also enhanced with the launch of the new SAP-MICROSOFT Unite Partner Connection, a program that aims to maximize joint business opportunities, and from a software perspective will offer a “better understanding” of both their roadmaps.

Built around the SAP PartnerEdge program and the Microsoft Partner Network it will enable users to identify and even build solutions that tap SAP and Microsoft software and maximize client’s existing IT deployments.

It’s too early to say where this will go especially given the lackluster performance of the original Duet release. However, there have been fundamental changes in the base packages -- SharePoint and SAP’s ERP -- and both companies seem certain that the changes will see a better reception for this one.

To run Enterprise Duet, users will need Microsoft SharePoint 2010 as well as SAP NetWeaver7.02. Pricing for the application, which is now available, was not disclosed.