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As the leading vendor of enterprise business standard software, SAP has recognized the need to adapt their R/3 system to current trends in software development and to meet market needs for speed of development, flexibility, openness and interoperability. In this paper, the authors first present SAP's approach to object-oriented and component-based technology by describing the business framework, the concepts of business objects, BAPIs, and the business object repository. On this basis, they then analyze current communication architectures and products enabling the interaction of external Java-based software applications with SAP R/3, point out the advantages and disadvantages of different solutions and finally elaborate on potential strategies and steps for driving the evolution of SAP R/3 in order to further increase interoperability, openness and flexibility.
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