SAP01 SAP NetWeaver

May 2012


SAP NetWeaver is a technological platform that can integrate information and application from different sources. It is a single solution that includes all users, information, and business processes. This is the foundation for all SAP solutions including SAP xApps and SAP Business Suite. It is also compatible with Microsoft .NET and IBM WebSphere and supports Java 2 Platform Enterprise Edition (J2EE).

In the context of the SAP Business Suite, numerous solutions for business challenges are provided. However, many solutions have similar or identical requirements for business functions in subareas. For example, components refer to SAP SCM, SAP CRM, or SAP PLM as building blocks of solutions. Different characteristics, such as reliability, scalability, and security, ensure that business processes are processed in a smoother manner using SAP NetWeaver. The SAP NetWeaver helps you utilize your existing IT investments in a productive manner. It also gives you the foundation for future cross-enterprise process.

SAP NetWeaver provides integration of people, information, and business processes across organizational boundaries. It also provides complete .NET and J2EE interoperability. Thus, the overall functionality of NetWeaver covers People Integration, Information Integration, and Process Integration and provides Application Platform.

·        People Integration ensures that the employees have the required information and functions to perform their work efficiently. Multi-channel access, portal, and collaboration are three main subareas of People Integration.

Multi-channel access is an open system architecture that facilitates platform independence and allows you to access the enterprise systems through PCs, mobile devices, PDAs, and so on. Hence, you can process your business transactions wherever you want to.

Portal is the gateway to the end-user. It is a user-friendly interface that makes it possible to access relevant data from different systems. Enterprise portal offers a centralized access to information, applications, and services in your enterprise.

The Collaboration function allows you to use common resources and common content. The individual tools and services include virtual project rooms and tools for real-time interaction, irrespective of geographical distance. You can use discussion forums to exchange data and information with colleagues from different locations.

·        Information Integration provides access to all information in your company. It has four subareas.

Timely access to relevant information has always been critical to business success. Business intelligence brings together a powerful business intelligence infrastructure, a comprehensive set of tools, planning and simulation capabilities, and data-warehousing functionality. Hence, decision-making is supported at all levels.

Knowledge Management manages all internal and external content and enables users to access them by using intelligent search functions. The contents might include text files, presentations, or audio files.

Master Data Management is the central maintenance of data from different sources. This reduces data management costs and simplifies the correction of data errors. Some examples of the data are business partner information, product master data and structures, and information about technical systems.

·        Process Integration enables the connection of SAP and non-SAP systems of different versions on different platforms. This is done using XML data packages and workflow scenarios. SAP XI plays an important role in Process Integration. There are two subareas of Process Integration.

Integration Broker enables diverse applications to exchange XML/SOAP based information in dissimilar forms. It handles the process that is required for information to arrive in the right place and in the correct format.

Business Process Management is a method of efficiently aligning an organization with the needs of clients. It is a holistic management approach that promotes business effectiveness and efficiency while striving for innovation, flexibility, and integration with technology.

·        Application Platform is a SAP Web application server that supports ABAP, Java, and Web services. It provides a complete developmental infrastructure on which you can develop, distribute, and execute platform-independent, robust, and scalable Web services and business applications.

The various components of SAP NetWeaver can be roughly divided into two categories

 

·        Basis functions and

·        Application functions.

 

In SAP systems, the Application functions differ from each other, such as the functions of SAP CRM and SAP ERP Central Components. In contrast, when we consider the Basis components, both the systems have same functionalities. As you can see on the slide, the application functions of SAP NetWeaver Mobile and SAP NetWeaver Portal differ, but the Basis functions remain the same, that is, People Integration.

As we learned from the previous slide, the NetWeaver Application Server is the basis for different SAP components such as SAP ECC, SAP CRM, SAP SCM, and SAP BW. The slide depicts ECC and CRM environments on SAP NetWeaver AS. The central component and CRM component are the application functions where everybody works such as sales persons posting sales documents in the system. These functions are launched on the NetWeaver platform.

SAP NetWeaver not only provides the runtime environment for ABAP programs but also provides runtime environment for J2EE-based Java programs. Open technical standards such as HTTP(S), SMTP, Unicode, XML, and HTML are supported by the SAP NetWeaver AS.

SAP NetWeaver provides a reliable runtime environment tested over years. It offers framework for implementing complex business processes maintaining high security standards, and supports various operating systems and database. It also provides high scalability inherited from SAP Basis.

As mentioned on the slide, the

·        presentation level offers GUI for various user interfaces.

·        In the application level, the runtime environment is both SAP ABAP and Java compatible.

·        The database level supports different databases, such as DB2 and SAP DB.

The SAP NetWeaver Portal is an important part of the integration and application platform.

It contains People Integration as well as Information Integration in the form of Knowledge Management.

The presentation level offers GUI for various user interfaces whereas an enterprise portal gives a centralized access to information, applications, and services in your organization. All SAP and non-SAP systems and different Web contents are brought together in one interface.

People and Information integration is performed in the form of Knowledge Management. Knowledge Management in the portal turns unstructured data into important information. Collaboration facilitates the teamwork of people across enterprise borders, and personalization adapts the structure to individual user requirements.

In complex business scenarios, you might need to log in several times in your landscapes to access the information. You might have different passwords for the business warehouse versus the Web server versus the ECC environment versus CRM. Hence, the process is not only confusing but also time consuming. Further, can you remember all those passwords after a vacation?

The SAP NetWeaver Portal has a single sign-on, which speeds up the process of accessing information, applications, and services. By using the single sign-on, users benefit from the convenient authentication and communications between IT systems. Although the portal does not get rid of the system complexity completely, it, however, brings multiple interfaces together and gives you the single-point entry to all the information you need.

To use the catchphrase: “A portal should be able to provide right information and right functions to the right processor at any time from any location”, the SAP NetWeaver Portal provides an infrastructure that can be used to retrieve and edit the data accessed from internet as well as other information sources of your company. You can accomplish this by means of iViews. iViews are the templates that allow you to work on common resources and common content. You too can create customer-specific iViews.

Timely access to relevant information has always been significant for growth and success of a business. The SAP NetWeaver Portal makes the technology cost-effective and also provides better information between customers and partners. It enables you to make better decisions and improve the management process by providing quick access to all the information whenever you need them.

 

·        The core functions of the portal are written in Java.

·        It uses an open architecture, and the standards it supports include SOAP, UDDI, and XML.

·        The portal has powerful security functions, including support for directory services, digital certificates, and SSL protocol.

·        It has the capability to accommodate a large number of users and also supports.

The NetWeaver Portal’s out-of-the-box interface provides all the necessary tools to work effectively in the portal. The default interface can be changed through customization and personalization. Typically, the interface is divided into the areas, such as header area, navigation panel, content area, and so on.

Portal desktop has the entire portal screen including the content and the layout.

The Header area is the part of the portal that contains masthead, tools for personalization and so on, and the top-level navigational bar. The Masthead contains branding elements, user identification, and so on. Top level navigation is the entry point for navigation through the content assigned according to your role.

The Navigation panel is the left-hand pane, just below the top-level navigational bar. This is used to navigate the content. Navigation iViews is the area in the navigation panel related to portal navigation.

The Content area is for performing the main tasks in the portal. Here, administrative tools, navigational results, and portal pages are displayed.

The portal can be used either as a centralised workplace with access to different applications or as a user interface within a specific application.

In the portal, the data are separated in a systematically and orderly fashion. This provides an easy access to data across the system borders. Not only this, the time taken to carry out such tasks is also minimized, the search times are reduced, and repeated steps are eliminated. Unification is a characteristic feature of the SAP solution. This provides the Drag and Relate feature that integrates the front end with different back-end systems. Take an example. If you decide to go on a vacation, you go to the SAP corporate portal and click on vacation request. Without your knowledge, the portal takes your request back to the transactional event in human capital management, whereas you are only pulling up the front end of it, clicking on the calendar, asking what time you want to go on vacation and saying send. The portal actually did something in the transactional event in ECC, but you do not have to know the menu path or know the transaction in order to do it.

SAP’s Business packages contain predefined portal content that can be used to call up transactions and reports from all types of system. Business packages support the work of your content manager. Since they enable portals to be created without additional developmental work, it significantly reduces the implementation time of your enterprise portal. Based on the requirements of users, managers, and specialists, Business package is divided into three groups.

Business package for users contains the tasks that a portal user may carry out in the portal irrespective of his role in the enterprise. It helps the beginners to familiarize themselves with the portal quickly. The content includes functions regarding E-mailing, task lists, calendar administration, travel expense settlements, employee self-services, and search in the employee directory.

Business package for managers is designed for the decision makers. The managers, departmental heads, or project leaders can use the content of this package to perform efficient analysis to acquire the needed information. Furthermore, it offers extensive tools for planning and supervising the staff and the budget. Thus, the time spent on administrative and strategic tasks can be reduced.

Business packages for experts are aimed to the specialists from different departments in the enterprise, such as sales, human resource, marketing, finance, and production. They provide appropriate analysis tools and timely alerts, which help them act immediately based on the correct information they have derived.

The SAP Developers Network, SDN, is an online community for developers, consultants, and integrators. In short, it provides an excellent meeting point for SAP experts. Registered members of SDN can access information from many technical areas. However, the focus would be on the topics from the SAP NetWeaver area.

SAP provides contents in the form of business packages. Registered users in turn can download these to integrate them into the NetWeaver Portal. The business packages allow you to create portals, and you can do this without creating additional developments. The Portal Development Kit, PKD, is a tool for creating iViews. SAP provides free PKD’s for Java, WebSphere, and .NET.

Knowledge Management is an integral part of the SAP NetWeaver Portal and SAP NetWeaver Information Integration. Through Knowledge Management, SAP NetWeaver structures and classifies the entire spectrum of unstructured content, making it accessible to users to help with decision-making. The SAP NetWeaver Portal component delivers these knowledge management capabilities. It provides a configurable set of connectors, repositories, and services including a full-featured search engine that makes all unstructured information accessible to users. The users can just browse, classify, or manage contents. Access to information is controlled through authorization profiles.

There are two areas in knowledge management – content management, and search and classification.

Content management gives support to the entire life cycle of documents, that is, from the creation to archiving of a document.

Search and classification provides a full text search across all types of documents and their automatic classification through the search engine, TREX.

WebDAV=  Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning

As discussed earlier, the collaboration function allows you to use common resources and common content. The individual tools and services include virtual project rooms and tools for real-time interaction, irrespective of the geographical distance. Discussion forums are there to exchange data and information with colleagues who might be working from different location and different time zone. Some examples of tools and services are collaboration rooms, real-time collaboration, and instant messaging.

Collaboration rooms provide “virtual project rooms” for work groups. It follows the same navigation paradigm as the standard portal and uses the standard portal concepts as iViews, pages, and worksheets.

Real-time collaboration enables the users at remote locations communicate through interactive online meetings. This is helpful to exchange information and knowledge as well as to provide support and training.

Instant messaging allows you to communicate with other users in real-time through text-based messages.

SAP NetWeaver integrates without any glitch with third-party collaboration products, such as, application sharing, instant messaging, or E-mail products that may already be in use in your enterprise. In other words, in the NetWeaver Portal, users can collaborate with customers, partners, and associates inside and outside the enterprise.

Collaboration launch pad is the central entry point for collaboration in the portal. In the default setting, you launch the CLP in the masthead by choosing the Collaboration link.

Information Integration provides you both structured and unstructured information that is consistent and accessible. Users have constant access to consistent information no matter where it is stored. Business Intelligence and SAP Master Data Management are the two important components of the Information Integration.

Business Intelligence analyzes, integrates, and distributes information that supports your decision-making at all times. It provides you with reliable tools for creating individual and interactive reports and applications.

SAP Master Data Management supports unified data storage across the company branches in a heterogeneous IT landscape. It permits common use of master data from systems that were originally different. It also ensures that the data is consistent across the system boundaries, irrespective of the system location or vendor.

Operative environment is transaction oriented, whereas informative environment is analysis-oriented. As shown in the slide, online transaction processing, OLTP, takes place in the operative environment and online analytical processing, OLAP, in informative environment. Both of these environments must be taken as an integrated entity.

A huge amount of information is created for business processes, which cannot be easily used for practical analysis. Such data are cleansed first, and because of their diverse origin, they are technically and semantically formatted – homogenized. The resulting analyses can in turn be used to generate knowledge. This knowledge can help enterprise management to define its business strategy and supports the business processes derived from it. The slide illustrates this cycle.

The three layers of SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence are data sources, data warehouse, and reporting.

1.     As shown in the slide, the lowest level of BI is the source systems. SAP provides extraction mechanisms for production data from SAP systems. For non-SAP systems, there are the BW-BAPI interfaces. These interfaces allow the access to relational database systems and multidimensional applications and are used for processing application files.

2.     At second level, metadata and application server is managed in the business information warehouse server. The server administers application and metadata. When a report is executed, the OLAP processor examines the data.

3.     The third level shows different reporting tools such as BEx Analyser embedded in the Microsoft Excel and BEx Web Analyzer embedded in BEx Web. You can use it to execute queries in the browser.

Business Content in SAP NetWeaver is a collective term for a preconfigured role and task-related information models that can be adapted to individual enterprise requirements. The structure of the Business Content is based on application components. It consists of roles, workbooks, queries, InfoCubes, InfoObjects, InfoSources, update rules as well as extractors for SAP R/3, SAP New Dimension Applications, and other selected applications.

The Business Content is included as an add-on to the SAP BI. The distinct advantage of Business Content is that it is based on a data model where you can activate all the required and related objects at a same time. Business Content also contains objects of the data flow. The corresponding data from the SAP source systems can be loaded instantly, and if necessary, you can analyze those using predefined queries.

There are various ways of making the reports available to different users in SAP NetWeaver BI. The BEx Analyzer embedded in Microsoft Excel and the BEx Web Analyzer embedded in BEx Web are the two main reporting tools. Queries can also be executed using the browser and it is possible to run and display analyses on the portal interfaces. Crystal reports are used for pixel-accurate reporting. Further, general data can be transferred to a cell phone as well.

The structuring and visualization of all information is ensured by the fact that suitable data are provided in SAP BW based on the requirements and expectations on reporting. This data can originate from SAP system as well as a non-SAP system.

SAP Master Data Management, or SAP MDM, is a component of SAP's NetWeaver product group. It is used as a platform to consolidate, cleanse, and synchronise a single version of the information for master data within a heterogeneous application landscape. It has the ability to distribute to SAP and non-SAP applications internally as well as externally. SAP MDM is a key enabler of SAP Enterprise Service-Oriented Architecture. Standard system architecture would consist of a single, central MDM server. This is connected to client systems through SAP Exchange Infrastructure using XML documents, although connectivity without SAP XI can also be achieved. All these in turn lead to reduced cost for maintenance and operation as well as integration of the data.

MDM creates a centralized storehouse for all marketing content that is used within the enterprise as well as outside of it. Thus, it reduces maintenance and operating costs and is instrumental in driving growth.

IT departments use MDM to eliminate the information that has developed across their companies. As a result, integration cost is reduced, enabling collaboration and improving business productivity.

Duplication of data increases the costs of consolidating the reports. Data redundancy should also be minimized to increase the reliability in reporting.

SAP NetWeaver MDM enables the central maintenance of data from different sources. It enables companies to consolidate and harmonize their master data within heterogeneous IT landscapes. It consistently delivers greatly reduced data maintenance costs, ensures cross-system data consistency, accelerates the execution of business processes, and significantly improves decision-making.

The slide illustrates the steps that MDM supports for collective data maintenance.

1.     MDM facilitates centralised cleansing, de-duplication, and consolidation, which in turn enables key mapping and consolidated group reporting in SAP BI. There is no re-distribution of cleansed data.

2.     In the second step, all the functions of content consolidation are included, along with re-distribution of cleansed, consolidated master data.

3.     In the third step, the functions remain same as master data harmonisation, save for the fact that all master data are maintained in the central MDM system. No maintenance of master data occurs in the connected client systems.

SAP NetWeaver Process Integration combines applications from one or multiple systems. SAP Exchange Infrastructure, or SAP XI, forms the basis for the integration of business processes. SAP XI provides a technical infrastructure for XML-based message exchange to enable the integration of SAP systems with each other as well as the integration of SAP with non-SAP systems.

IT landscapes these days are increasingly complex and difficult to integrate. This is what is depicted on the slide. Let us take an example. Suppose that you are in e-sales, and you wish to retrieve a document. Given the complexity of the interconnection between components, retrieving your document may consume a lot of time and effort; on occasion, it may even be impossible.

You need a solution that makes new levels of collaboration and connectivity possible among all the systems and applications within your enterprise and across your entire value chain. In addition to integrating these heterogeneous system environments, you would then want to control your existing legacy systems. However, in today’s environment, a “rip and replace” solution is not feasible.

SAP Exchange Infrastructure or SAP XI is a powerful integration broker that works well within your IT landscape.

As illustrated in the slide, a component of the SAP NetWeaver platform, SAP XI, runs on the SAP Web Application Server (SAP Web AS). SAP XI reduces integration and maintenance costs of IT systems by providing a common, central repository for interfaces. It supports cross-component business process management (BPM) within the same solution. It also offers an integrated tool set to help organizations build their own integration scenarios by defining the appropriate messaging interfaces, mappings, and routing rules. Now, if you need any particular document, you need not go through multiple channels. The XI component coordinates the language differences between other components and gets back with the requested document seamlessly.

The SAP Exchange Infrastructure consists of

·        Integration Repository,

·        Integration Directory,

·        and Integration Engine components.

The Integration Repository provides collaboration knowledge available at design time, for example, mappings, interfaces, and components. It is built in Java and follows Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) standards.

The Integration Directory contains detailed collaboration knowledge about the current system landscape around the SAP Integration Server. It is a description of routing rules, active services, executable mappings, and the specific system landscape.

The Integration Engine helps in communication of messages between different connected components.

As demonstrated in the slide, the integration is achieved by exchanging XML-based message objects through the Integration Server. To adopt different application systems, the Integration Server does comprehensive routing and mapping using specific integration data out of the Integration Directory and Integration Repository as well as system specific data out of the System Landscape Directory.

The central monitoring of SAP Exchange Infrastructure, SAP XI, offers you the option of executing various monitoring activities. Runtime Workbench is a central tool in SAP Exchange Infrastructure used for monitoring and testing the individual components and for monitoring message processing and performance. In short, you use the Runtime Workbench to access SAP XI monitoring. It gives you the option of navigating to the monitoring functions of the Integration Engine, as well as integration with the Computing Center Management System (CCMS), and the Process Monitoring Infrastructure (PMI) of SAP.

The SAP Integration and Certification Centers provide certification opportunities for third-party adapters for the XI Adapter Framework (NW-XI-AF). These adapters must be implemented as resource adapters of the Java Connector Architecture (JCA) 1.0 and enable the integration engine to communicate to different application components or industry standards.

Independent Software Vendors can use the SAP Partner Connectivity Kit (PCK), available through any SAP sales office, as their platform to develop their XI adapters.