Welcome!

Artificial Intelligence Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Carmen Gonzalez, Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz

Related Topics: Artificial Intelligence, Microservices Expo

Artificial Intelligence: Article

Web Services Strategy - SAP Platform

It's not your father's SAP

Packaged business applications have dominated enterprise IT landscapes for over a decade. Now these products are undergoing major changes to segway into the world of Web Services. SAP has been one of the most aggressive companies in embracing this revolution. Its NetWeaver platform is an ambitious suite of integration technologies designed to morph SAP into enterprise SOAs. SAP unveiled a four-year roadmap for NetWeaver in 2003. This article looks at the platform at its halfway point as well as SAP's vision for creating a Web Services-based agile business process infrastructure.

What Is NetWeaver?

NetWeaver is really a brand that encompasses a suite of tools just like WebSphere, WebLogic, and .NET are umbrellas for a family of products within a platform. Some of these products are relatively new, while others are proven solutions that have been widely deployed. What is significant is the way SAP is bringing these products together in support of a common vision for service-oriented computing. This has led to a unified roadmap, better compatibility, and shared release cycles for the entire suite.

All of the usual suspects can be found inside of NetWeaver. First is an application server that SAP calls the Web Application Server or WAS. What's unique about WAS is that it contains both a fully compliant J2EE engine and SAP's ABAP engine, which serves as the technical foundation for most SAP products. In fact one might argue that SAP figured out the application server concept long before Java. And much of the proven high-availability, security, and fault-tolerant technology built for the ABAP environment has been extended to the Java engine. WAS also contains rich support for exposing both Java and ABAP-based applications as Web Services as well as consuming external Web Services.

The next component is an integration broker and business process management (BPM) tool called Exchange Infrastructure or XI for short. XI offers the same modeling, design repository, and execution environments you'd expect from any EAI tool. Besides traditional adapter models it was designed with XML-, SOAP-, and Web Service-based integrations in mind. The BPM part of XI offers a fully complaint BPEL orchestration modeler and execution engine. Table 1 provides a more complete view of how XI supports Web Services standards.

SAP will soon begin to ship significant amounts of pre-built integration content modeled in XI along with its business applications. What's unique about XI is the way SAP is trying to bridge the gap between coarse-grained business process definitions that users understand and the much finer-grained orchestration execution models that exist today in BPEL semantics. SAP is partnering closely with IDS Scheer, a leading business process automation firm, in this endeavor. Closing that gap is a prerequisite to realizing the promise of agile business-driven computing.

The third major component of NetWeaver is a portal server that SAP calls Enterprise Portal. As with any portal server Enterprise Portal acts as an integrated user interface across many applications. It offers role- and user-based personalization, single sign-on APIs, a portlet model called iViews, XML/XSLT data transformation support, and so on. Enterprise Portal also includes tools for easily exposing portal services as Web Services.

NetWeaver contains many other products including workflow and collaboration tools, a private UDDI registry, a business intelligence suite called Business Warehouse, a Mobile Infrastructure Engine for accessing SAP from portable devices, and Master Data Management for synchronizing and harmonizing data. Accompanying these products is a set of modeling, development, deployment, and monitoring tools, some of which will be discussed in more detail below.

In short NetWeaver is a technology platform with many of the features you would expect from any application development and integration middleware stack. In addition, Web Services are becoming a pervasive part of this platform. NetWeaver will be part of every SAP system landscape in the future because it's part of the upgrade path. Enterprise Portal will become the ubiquitous user interface across the company's business suite. XI will be the out-of-the-box way to integrate SAP with other applications. Most importantly, SAP customers will soon see a flood of new Web Services options unleashed on their organizations.

NetWeaver Is About Business Processes

At first glance it looks like SAP is going head-to-head with IBM or BEA in application middleware. While there's a lot of feature overlap between these platforms that's not the intent. SAP is first and foremost a business applications company. NetWeaver is designed to morph SAP's business applications into the SOA world. The reason is simple. It's inevitable that process logic will be liberated from individual applications.

Let's reinforce the point. What it means is that the promise of Web Services, loosely coupled architectures, and digitized business process management is about to enter a new age. Companies like SAP that have been built on monolithic products with proprietary interfaces and high switching costs have surrendered to this eventuality. By embracing the SOA paradigm companies like SAP will actually accelerate the adoption curve.

SAP's vision for service-oriented, process-driven computing is called the Enterprise Services Architecture (ESA). It is key to understanding how all the NetWeaver pieces come together. SAP defines ESA as "Service Oriented Architecture principles and Web Services technology applied to the world of enterprise business applications." It means that value comes from fusing business applications with an enabling technology platform. ESA enables:

  • Role-based UIs built on Enterprise Services
  • Process automation in and across organizational boundaries built on Enterprise Services
  • Decoupling process and integration logic

Implied in these definitions is the notion of an Enterprise Service with three characteristics. First, it's a business-level service, which means that it's fairly coarse grained and delivers value at a functional level. Second, it's a service so it can be discovered, described, and invoked like any other Web Service. Finally, it's enterprise-class implying high levels of scalability, security, manageability, and other non-functional concerns.

As with any SOA model these Enterprise Services become the focal point for a layered architecture. They're built on a foundation of application and technology services that act as building blocks. Enterprise Services can then be woven together through composition techniques into applications that support cross-functional business processes. SAP has developed a commercialization strategy for these composite applications under the name xApps. xApps are business solutions that cut across multiple SAP and non-SAP applications using SOA integration patterns. SAP and its certified partners offer these composite applications as products you can buy. Examples include everything from pricing analytics to streamlined international trade management to optimizing exploration and production for oil companies. What's significant is they are concrete business-level solutions being built, sold, and deployed under a services composition model.

Making NetWeaver Work

So far we've described SAP's vision for service-oriented, process-driven computing called the Enterprise Services Architecture. We've also shown that SAP has a technology platform and suite of tools that lets us build and deploy composite applications. The next question is what lets us bring all of this together to make things happen? The following outlines a very basic evolutionary approach for leveraging the power of NetWeaver to build service-oriented applications and automate business processes.

More Stories By Scott Campbell

Scott Campbell is president of MomentumSI, a professional services firm specializing in platform-ready, service-oriented enterprise architecture and business process management solutions. Prior to joining Momentum in 1998, Scott helped open the Houston office for DiaLogos, Inc., and he previously held various positions in product marketing and IT at 3M.

Comments (1) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
Satish 08/03/05 08:24:16 AM EDT

An excellent article at the overview level. Very neat, crisp and simple! Thanks!

@ThingsExpo Stories
Everywhere we turn in our industry we can find strong opinions about the direction, type and nature of cloud’s impact on computing and business. Another word that is used in every context in our industry is “hybrid.” In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Alvaro Gonzalez, Director of Technical, Partner and Field Marketing at Peak 10, will use a combination of a few conceptual props and some research recently commissioned by Peak 10 to offer a real-world consideration of how the various categories of...
Five years ago development was seen as a dead-end career, now it’s anything but – with an explosion in mobile and IoT initiatives increasing the demand for skilled engineers. But apart from having a ready supply of great coders, what constitutes true ‘DevOps Royalty’? It’ll be the ability to craft resilient architectures, supportability, security everywhere across the software lifecycle. In his keynote at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Jeffrey Scheaffer, GM and SVP, Continuous Delivery Busine...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Outscale, a global pure play Infrastructure as a Service provider and strategic partner of Dassault Systèmes, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Founded in 2010, Outscale simplifies infrastructure complexities and boosts the business agility of its customers. Outscale delivers a secure, reliable and industrial strength solution for its customers, which in...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CollabNet, a global leader in enterprise software development, release automation and DevOps solutions, will be a Bronze Sponsor of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, taking place from June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CollabNet offers a broad range of solutions with the mission of helping modern organizations deliver quality software at speed. The company’s latest innovation, the DevOps Lifecycle Manager (DLM), supports Value S...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Peak 10, Inc., a national IT infrastructure and cloud services provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Peak 10 provides reliable, tailored data center and network services, cloud and managed services. Its solutions are designed to scale and adapt to customers’ changing business needs, enabling them to lower costs, improve performance and focus intern...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
In order to meet the rapidly changing demands of today’s customers, companies are continually forced to redefine their business strategies in order to meet these needs, stay relevant and continue to see profitable growth. IoT deployment and development is integral in this transformation, and today businesses are increasingly seeing the value of investing their resources into IoT deployments. These technologies are able increase ROI through projects such as connecting supply chains or enabling sm...
In his opening keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Michael Maximilien, Research Scientist, Architect, and Engineer at IBM, will motivate why realizing the full potential of the cloud and social data requires artificial intelligence. By mixing Cloud Foundry and the rich set of Watson services, IBM's Bluemix is the best cloud operating system for enterprises today, providing rapid development and deployment of applications that can take advantage of the rich catalog of Watson services to help drive insigh...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in compute, storage and networking technologies, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
SYS-CON Events announced today that EARP Integration will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. EARP Integration is a passionate software house. Since its inception in 2009 the company successfully delivers smart solutions for cities and factories that start their digital transformation. EARP provides bespoke solutions like, for example, advanced enterprise portals, business intelligence systems an...
Existing Big Data solutions are mainly focused on the discovery and analysis of data. The solutions are scalable and highly available but tedious when swapping in and swapping out occurs in disarray and thrashing takes place. The resolution for thrashing through machine learning algorithms and support nomenclature is through simple techniques. Organizations that have been collecting large customer data are increasingly seeing the need to use the data for swapping in and out and thrashing occurs ...
Amazon started as an online bookseller 20 years ago. Since then, it has evolved into a technology juggernaut that has disrupted multiple markets and industries and touches many aspects of our lives. It is a relentless technology and business model innovator driving disruption throughout numerous ecosystems. Amazon’s AWS revenues alone are approaching $16B a year making it one of the largest IT companies in the world. With dominant offerings in Cloud, IoT, eCommerce, Big Data, AI, Digital Assis...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Progress, a global leader in application development, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Enterprises today are rapidly adopting the cloud, while continuing to retain business-critical/sensitive data inside the firewall. This is creating two separate data silos – one inside the firewall and the other outside the firewall. Cloud ISVs oft...
The 21st International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding busin...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 21st International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
As cloud adoption continues to transform business, today's global enterprises are challenged with managing a growing amount of information living outside of the data center. The rapid adoption of IoT and increasingly mobile workforce are exacerbating the problem. Ensuring secure data sharing and efficient backup poses capacity and bandwidth considerations as well as policy and regulatory compliance issues.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Interoute is the owner operator of Europe's largest network and a global cloud services platform, which encompasses over 70,000 km of lit fiber, 15 data centers, 17 virtual data centers and 33 colocation centers, with connections to 195 additional partner data centers. Our full-service Unifie...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Progress, a global leader in application development, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Enterprises today are rapidly adopting the cloud, while continuing to retain business-critical/sensitive data inside the firewall. This is creating two separate data silos – one inside the firewall and the other outside the firewall. Cloud ISVs ofte...