SAPPHIRE: SAP chairman defends

"When we launched, there was some surprise, some concern, and a lot of misunderstandings," Plattner said. " is a new system, a new concept which includes the functionality of R/3," he said, pointing out that the company did not simply add a new layer to the software and change the name.

Plattner pointed out that one of the key benefits with is its integration with non-SAP applications. "It's like the home audio and video market," he said. Customers can either get the entire system made by one company, or they can mix and match different components from different companies.

The integration between components also extends to working with different versions of different components so users don't have to get immediate upgrades when they are released, he said.

During the marketplace demonstration of, attendees saw the drag and drop compatibility of components within the package, where dragging a customer number from an order and dropping it on the customer menu brought up information about the customer. From there, dragging and dropping the name of the corporate customer in a different area meant searching for information about the company on Yahoo's online search engine.

Plattner said that, for the past 30 years, the applications have been trying to grab the users, but now it isn't the actual applications, but the services that those applications offer, that are the most important issues for the users.

"The user doesn't know which application he is being offered anymore," Plattner said. "The user is completely liberated from the applications."

"(Scott) McNealy (chairman and chief executive officer of Sun Microsystems) is right; there are only services, not applications," he said. "But the services are still run by application software."

"Software is not dead, it just comes to people as services," he reiterated.

Sapphire, in Berlin, continues through Friday. More information can be found on the Web at