SAP is a company as well as a product.
SAP, in German, stands for Systeme, Andwendungen, Produkte in der Datenverarbeitung which means Systems, Applications, Products in Data Processing in English.
The company SAP is located in Waldorf, Germany and has subsidiary companies in over 50 countries. It was founded by five former IBM employees i.e. Dietmar Hopp, Hans-Werner Hector, Klaus E. Tschira, Hasso Plattner and Claus Wellenreuther in 1972. Since then, the company has grown to become the largest software enterprise in Europe and the fourth largest enterprise in the world.
SAP aims at providing software solutions to companies across six industry sectors i.e.process industries, discrete industries, consumer industries, service industries, financial services and public services. It does so by selling licenses for software solutions for large enterprises and more than 550 micro-vertical solutions for midsize companies and small businesses.
The company has distribution network known as SAP Labs, across nine countries, including a Green SAP Lab in Brazil that is made completely of environmentally friendly materials. It's research wing. SAP Research has 11 research centers worldwide. SAP also looks into a lot of technological ventures and partnerships through SAP Ventures.
The product SAP had a humble beginning with a financial accounting software called R/1, where the R stands for "real-time". Post R/1, SAP grew immensely by making newer and better versions- R/2, R/3- of the same software. However, it has changed the name of the software to Enterprise Resource Planning Central Component (ECC). It's most current version is the ECC 6.0.
SAP also has other software solutions in defined components, each aiming at a certain kind of business.
The Business Suite model provides software solutions to large organizations and international corporations. It provides these solutions across 25 vertical industries that include banking, insurance, chemicals, healthcare, retail and consumer products. Under this model, SAP supports the following applications -
1. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
2. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
3. Supply Chain Management (SCM)
4. Product Lifecycle Management(PLM)
5. Supplier Relationship Management (SRM)
Similarly, for small and medium enterprises, there are the following SAP software solutions available -
1. Business All-in-one
2. Business Bydesign
4. BusinessObjects Edge
5. Crystal Solutions
Additionally, there is the On-demand solutions software to cater to Business Intelligence (BI) solutions required over the Web.
SAP makes it easy to adopt service oriented architecture (SOA) for companies by delivering SOA based technology; service enabled applications and pre-packaged enterprise services. It does so via the SAP Business Suite, that is the service-enabled software, and the SAP NetWeaver platform.
The SAP NetWeaver Platform is a technical foundation for a SOA and SAP Business Suite. This platform makes it easier to integrate different systems, applications and data to simplify one's IT environment.
Hence, SAP, both the company and the product believe in providing a diversified range of services and solutions to businesses for them to think, see and act clearly in order to minimize the gap between planning and action and thus become the best run businesses.