Welcome!

SAP Authors: Trevor Parsons, Yeshim Deniz, Hovhannes Avoyan, Liz McMillan, Mat Mathews

Related Topics: SAP, SOA & WOA

SAP: 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
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to require a new way of thinking and of developing software for speed, security and innovation. This requires IT leaders to balance business as usual while anticipating for the next market and technology trends. Cloud provides the right IT asset portfolio to help today’s IT leaders manage the old and prepare for the new. Today the cloud conversation is evolving from private and public to hybrid. This session will provide use cases and insights to reinforce the value of the network in helping organizations to maximize their company’s cloud experience.
Disruptive macro trends in technology are impacting and dramatically changing the "art of the possible" relative to supply chain management practices through the innovative use of IoT, cloud, machine learning and Big Data to enable connected ecosystems of engagement. Enterprise informatics can now move beyond point solutions that merely monitor the past and implement integrated enterprise fabrics that enable end-to-end supply chain visibility to improve customer service delivery and optimize supplier management. Learn about enterprise architecture strategies for designing connected systems tha...
IoT is still a vague buzzword for many people. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, will discuss the business value of IoT that goes far beyond the general public's perception that IoT is all about wearables and home consumer services. The presentation will also discuss how IoT is perceived by investors and how venture capitalist access this space. Other topics to discuss are barriers to success, what is new, what is old, and what the future may hold.
Whether you're a startup or a 100 year old enterprise, the Internet of Things offers a variety of new capabilities for your business. IoT style solutions can help you get closer your customers, launch new product lines and take over an industry. Some companies are dipping their toes in, but many have already taken the plunge, all while dramatic new capabilities continue to emerge. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Reid Carlberg, Senior Director, Developer Evangelism at salesforce.com, to discuss real-world use cases, patterns and opportunities you can harness today.
All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices – computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors – connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades. With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be!
Noted IoT expert and researcher Joseph di Paolantonio (pictured below) has joined the @ThingsExpo faculty. Joseph, who describes himself as an “Independent Thinker” from DataArchon, will speak on the topic of “Smart Grids & Managing Big Utilities.” Over his career, Joseph di Paolantonio has worked in the energy, renewables, aerospace, telecommunications, and information technology industries. His expertise is in data analysis, system engineering, Bayesian statistics, data warehouses, business intelligence, data mining, predictive methods, and very large databases (VLDB). Prior to DataArcho...
Software AG helps organizations transform into Digital Enterprises, so they can differentiate from competitors and better engage customers, partners and employees. Using the Software AG Suite, companies can close the gap between business and IT to create digital systems of differentiation that drive front-line agility. We offer four on-ramps to the Digital Enterprise: alignment through collaborative process analysis; transformation through portfolio management; agility through process automation and integration; and visibility through intelligent business operations and big data.
There will be 50 billion Internet connected devices by 2020. Today, every manufacturer has a propriety protocol and an app. How do we securely integrate these "things" into our lives and businesses in a way that we can easily control and manage? Even better, how do we integrate these "things" so that they control and manage each other so our lives become more convenient or our businesses become more profitable and/or safe? We have heard that the best interface is no interface. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Co-Founder & CTO at Octoblu, Inc., will discuss how thes...
Last week, while in San Francisco, I used the Uber app and service four times. All four experiences were great, although one of the drivers stopped for 30 seconds and then left as I was walking up to the car. He must have realized I was a blogger. None the less, the next car was just a minute away and I suffered no pain. In this article, my colleague, Ved Sen, Global Head, Advisory Services Social, Mobile and Sensors at Cognizant shares his experiences and insights.
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) ir...
Can call centers hang up the phones for good? Intuitive Solutions did. WebRTC enabled this contact center provider to eliminate antiquated telephony and desktop phone infrastructure with a pure web-based solution, allowing them to expand beyond brick-and-mortar confines to a home-based agent model. It also ensured scalability and better service for customers, including MUY! Companies, one of the country's largest franchise restaurant companies with 232 Pizza Hut locations. This is one example of WebRTC adoption today, but the potential is limitless when powered by IoT. Attendees will learn rea...
From telemedicine to smart cars, digital homes and industrial monitoring, the explosive growth of IoT has created exciting new business opportunities for real time calls and messaging. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Ivelin Ivanov, CEO and Co-Founder of Telestax, will share some of the new revenue sources that IoT created for Restcomm – the open source telephony platform from Telestax. Ivelin Ivanov is a technology entrepreneur who founded Mobicents, an Open Source VoIP Platform, to help create, deploy, and manage applications integrating voice, video and data. He is the co-founder ...
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to create new business models as significant as those that were inspired by the Internet and the smartphone 20 and 10 years ago. What business, social and practical implications will this phenomenon bring? That's the subject of "Monetizing the Internet of Things: Perspectives from the Front Lines," an e-book released today and available free of charge from Aria Systems, the leading innovator in recurring revenue management.
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges.
There’s Big Data, then there’s really Big Data from the Internet of Things. IoT is evolving to include many data possibilities like new types of event, log and network data. The volumes are enormous, generating tens of billions of logs per day, which raise data challenges. Early IoT deployments are relying heavily on both the cloud and managed service providers to navigate these challenges. In her session at 6th Big Data Expo®, Hannah Smalltree, Director at Treasure Data, to discuss how IoT, Big Data and deployments are processing massive data volumes from wearables, utilities and other mach...
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Erik Lagerway, Co-founder of Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice s...
While great strides have been made relative to the video aspects of remote collaboration, audio technology has basically stagnated. Typically all audio is mixed to a single monaural stream and emanates from a single point, such as a speakerphone or a speaker associated with a video monitor. This leads to confusion and lack of understanding among participants especially regarding who is actually speaking. Spatial teleconferencing introduces the concept of acoustic spatial separation between conference participants in three dimensional space. This has been shown to significantly improve comprehe...
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, will discuss single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example...