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* updated with current prerequisites and release information*

 

After the huge announcement at the IBM Lotusphere on January 21st in Orlando (see also http://www.ibm.com/software/lotus/products/notes/atlantic.html), we are now in full swing in development to finish Atlantic 1.0 for a Q4 2008 release. All of us at IBM and SAP are very excited about the progress we are making and want to use SDN to share some up front information about Atlantic, it’s features, capabilities and pre-requisites.

To start with today, here’s a quick overview about scope and pre-requisites to help you identify which of these scenarios are of interest of your company as well as to help you with planning the road/cruise to Atlantic. The last one reason is especially important since this will help you to get various system components to the proper level and be ready to implement Atlantic as soon as it becomes available in Q4 2008.

At the very basic level Atlantic 1.0 will support following functionality:

Manager role

A typical manager has access to all sorts of mouthwatering information potentially enabling streaks of innovation as well as making sure that the existing company crown jewels retain their value and steer clear of dangerous water. But, the typical manager is also the bottleneck for all sorts of decisions, some trivial but some where expedience is a matter of real concern for a product, marketing campaign or potential acquisition. That’s the theory. In practice this information and the approval bottlenecks are distributed in different places (SAP BI, ERP reports..) and the approvals are buried under other work and not available at a time when they can be processes (for example offline).

Project “Atlantic” will make this information much more readily available – directly in your Lotus Notes client. So here you don’t just receive the reports (browsing for them in an orderly way) but you can also request new up-to-date reports either on an ad hoc basis or by subscribing to them from Lotus Notes so that they are delivered on a regular basis at a time that’s relevent to your work patterns.

In addition, the approvals that colleagues are waiting for are delivered directly into your Lotus Notes client so that you can execute them offline and make your decisions based on the information available in your SAP system as well as your Domino environment. So, for example, when approving a leave request you can see who else in the team will be absent that day and how much accrued leave the applicant has available. Other types of approval supported in the first release will be travel approvals and expense approvals.

Employee role

The employee is more interested in the convenience of triggering requests from Lotus Notes. So leave requests and travel requests can be performed directly from the Lotus Notes environment. These will behave like ordinary calendar entries so creating a travel request is as easy as creating an appointment, however SAP data relevant to the trip, such as the estimated costs and to which cost collector the trip will be charged to.

Limited SDK

SAP installations often involve enhancing the software so that the installation mirrors exactly the business process that each SAP customer intends to follow. This often involves developing enhancements in the SAP system which makes every installation unique. The Domino platform also enables custom development in domino designer so putting the two together project “Atlantic” has the recipe for enabling custom SDK capabilities, such as adding new approval types or enhancing existing approvals.

We see a huge opportunity with Atlantic to reach out to the managers within the organization and enable them to better participate in the processes you have running inside your SAP system as well as get access to all the data which is within SAP.

Prerequisite Software

To enable these capabilities, we rely on certain capabilities from Lotus as well as SAP. This results in the following high level pre-requisites:

Lotus:

Domino 8.02. This is the server for the IBM’s Lotus Software. Since its release in February uptake has been pretty very good, thanks to the beta testing in advance of the release.

Lotus Notes 8.02.  This is the client part of IBM’s Lotus software and was also released in February. Lotus Notes is available in more than thirty languages so, again, uptake has been good.

SAP

SAP ERP 6.0 with Enhancement Package 2 (EhP2) or higher. You should make sure stay up-to-date with the latest support packages to avoid disappointment.

SAP BI 3.5 or BI 7.0. This is the repository for reports that are displayed in Lotus Notes, if you require that feature. Reports from the ERP system can also be used, so you do not have to have BI up and running.

Further details on support package levels required and a quick architectural overview will follow in a future update so keep your eyes peeled.

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Update: The project code-name “Atlantic” mentioned above has now been announced for release in March 2009 as the product Alloy

Alloy: Bonding SAP with Lotus Notes

Public website: www.sap.com/alloy

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