Update: SAP launches Business Suite 7

SAP has launched Business Suite 7, pitching the software as a flexible and cost-effective option in tough times.

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SAP has launched Business Suite 7, pitching the software as a flexible and cost-effective option in tough times.

The new suite includes more than 150 new "functional innovations" that span the gamut from areas like CRM (customer relationship management) and SCM (supply chain management) to industry-specific applications. It also continues SAP's emerging "enhancement package" strategy, which allows users to add functionality they want without the pain of a full upgrade.

Business Suite 7 is a major watershed for SAP, as it aligns the vendor's various modules for the first time in a single release, according to Forrester Research analyst Ray Wang.

SAP "had to" do this, Wang said.

"People have had this perception that it's this one integrated system, but the reality is the [system integrators] have been tying all these [modules] together, making them work," he said.

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SAP's move is also meant to lure customers on older SAP systems to adopt its SOA (service-oriented architecture)-based NetWeaver platform, which underpins newer ERP (enterprise resource planning) releases and Business Suite 7, Wang added.

Company executives repeatedly framed Business Suite 7 as extremely important for SAP, as well as customers, during a launch event in New York on Wednesday.

It "marks an absolute, true milestone in the history of SAP," said co-CEO Leo Apotheker. "It's a keystone we will build on for the future."

And due to features like the enhancement packs, customers' sleepless nights over their ERP upgrades are "over," he declared. "We're done with that."

An SAP spokesman delivered a product demonstration of the new Business Suite software, showing how a dashboard-like interface pulls in relevant information from various modules.