[This article is sponsored by Peningo Systems, Inc., a provider of SAP Consulting Services on a nationwide basis. For more information on Peningo Systems, please go to the Peningo SAP Consultants page or to the Peningo SAP Netweaver Consultants page.]
NetWeaver is SAP’s integrated technology platform and is the technical foundation for all SAP applications since the SAP Business Suite. SAP NetWeaver is marketed as a service-oriented application and integration platform. SAP NetWeaver provides the development and runtime environment for SAP applications and can be used for custom development and integration with other applications and systems. SAP NetWeaver is built using open standards and industry de facto standards and can be extended with, and interoperate with, technologies such as Microsoft .NET, Sun Java EE, and IBM WebSphere.
SAP NetWeaver’s release is considered as a strategic move by SAP for driving enterprises to run their business on a single, integrated platform that includes both applications and technology. Industry analysts refer to this type of integrated platform offering as an “applistructure” (applications + infrastructure). It is widely held that this approach is driven by industry’s need to lower IT costs through an enterprise architecture that is at once (1) more flexible; (2) better integrated with applications; (3) built on open standards to ensure future interoperability and broad integration; and, (4) provided by a vendor that is financially viable for the long term.
SAP is fostering relationships with system integrators and independent software vendors, many of the latter becoming “Powered by SAP NetWeaver”.
SAP NetWeaver is part of SAP’s plan to transition to a more open, service-oriented architecture and to deliver the technical foundation of its applications on a single, integrated platform and common release cycle.
NetWeaver is essentially the integrated stack of SAP technology products. The SAP Web Application Server (sometimes referred to as WebAS) is the runtime environment for the SAP applications — all of the mySAP Business Suite solutions (SRM, CRM SCM, PLM, ERP) run on SAP WebAS.
· SAP NetWeaver Application Server – SAP NetWeaver Application server is a component of the NetWeaver solution which works as a web application server to SAP solutions. From the SAP point of view the Web AS is the foundation on which most of their product range runs.
· SAP NetWeaver Process Integration (PI) – SAP NetWeaver Process Integration (SAP NetWeaver PI), based on SAP NetWeaver Exchange Infrastructure (SAP NetWeaver XI), is SAP’s platform for process integration using the exchange of XML messages. SAP Exchange Infrastructure (SAP XI) is SAP’s enterprise application integration (EAI) software, a component of the NetWeaver product group used to facilitate the exchange of information among a company’s internal software and systems and those of external parties. Like other NetWeaver components, SAP XI is compatible with software products of other companies.
· SAP NetWeaver Enterprise Portal (EP) – SAP Enterprise Portal (EP, aka. SAP Netweaver Portal) offers users role-specific, Web-based and secure access to all relevant information, applications and services. Employees only need a desktop and a Web Browser, and can begin work once they have been authenticated in the portal. SAP Enterprise Portal contains the NetWeaver components Portal, Knowledge Management, and Collaboration.
- SAP NetWeaver Master Data Management (MDM) – SAP Master Data Management (SAP MDM) is a component of SAP’s NetWeaver product group and is used as a platform to consolidate, cleanse and synchronize a single version of the truth for master data within a heterogeneous application landscape. It has the ability to distribute internally and externally to SAP and non-SAP applications. SAP MDM is a key enabler of SAP Enterprise Service-Oriented Architecture. Standard system architecture would consist of a single central MDM server connected to client systems through SAP Exchange Infrastructure using XML documents, although connectivity without SAP XI can also be achieved.
- SAP NetWeaver Mobile – SAP NetWeaver Mobile is SAP’s, a component of the NetWeaver product group used mobilizing business processes. Like other NetWeaver components, SAP NetWeaver Mobile is compatible with software products of other companies.
- SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence – SAP Business Information Warehouse BY SAP AG (SAP BW) is the name of the Business Intelligence, analytical, reporting and Data Warehousing (DW) solution which is one of the major enterprise software applications produced by SAP AG. It was originally named SAP BIW, (Business Information Warehouse), but is now known as “SAP NetWeaver BI”. SAP BW consists among other things of components for data management (Data Warehousing Workbench), extensive data modeling capabilities, an embedded analytical engine, a suite of rich front-end analytical tools referred to as Business Explorer (BEx), and operational tools used for importing the most current transactional data into the system.
- SAP NetWeaver Composition Environment (CE) – SAP NetWeaver Composition Environment (CE) is a product of SAP AG that is intended to develop “composites”, which means applications that are built through the use of already existing SOA services. The product includes SAP NetWeaver Application Server and SAP NetWeaver Developer Studio with additional tools for the development of service based applications.
SAP has also teamed with hardware vendors like HP, IBM, Fujitsu-Siemens, and Sun to deliver appliances (i.e., hardware + software) to simplify and enhance the deployment of NetWeaver components. Examples of these appliances include:
- BI Accelerator
- Enterprise Search
- ABAP Workbench (SE80) – ABAP (Advanced Business Application Programming, originally Allgemeiner Berichts-Aufbereitungs-Prozessor = general report creation processor) is a high level programming language created by the German software company SAP. It is currently positioned, alongside the more recently introduced Java, as the language for programming SAP’s Web Application Server, part of its NetWeaver platform for building business applications. Its syntax is somewhat similar to COBOL.
- SAP NetWeaver Developer Studio (NWDS) based on Eclipse for most of the Java part of the technology (Web Dynpro for Java, JEE, Java Dictionary, Portal Applications etc.) – The SAP NetWeaver Developer Studio is an integrated development environment (IDE) for most of the Java part of SAP technology, mainly building business web applications, but also creating SAP Enterprise Portal projects and SAP Interactive Forms by Adobe. The official abbreviation Developer Studio is used seldom whereas NWDS is common, but unofficial. The Developer Studio is based on Eclipse, contains several plug-ins and provides a range of toolsets for SAP technology
- SAP Netweaver Development Infrastructure (NWDI) – The SAP NetWeaver Development Infrastructure (short: NWDI) combines the characteristics and advantages of local development environments – as usually provided in a Java environment – with a server-based development landscape that centrally provides a consistent development environment to development teams and supports the software development through the entire lifecycle of a product. The Developer Infrastructure mimics the functionality of ABAP Change and Transport System (CTS). The aim is to control deployment of components in the system landscape in a standardized manner. NWDI can be used to import Business Packages from SAP and enables development teams to modify standard applications. SAP NWDI is also known as SAP JDI (Java Development Infrastructure).
- Visual Composer – Visual Composer is SAP’s graphical software modeling tool. This web-based application enables business process experts and developers to quickly create business application components, without coding.Visual Composer produces applications in a declarative form, thereby enabling completely code-free execution mode for multiple runtime environments. It provides full application lifecycle support by maintaining the connection between an application and its model throughout its lifecycle. Visual Composer is designed with an open architecture, which enables developers to extend its design-time environment and modeling language, as well as to integrate external data services.
- Web Dynpro (WD) is a proprietary web application user interface technology developed by SAP AG and exists in a Java (Web Dynpro for Java, WDJ or WD4J) and an ABAP (Web Dynpro ABAP, WDA) flavor. Both have in general the same functionality, but usually one flavor is improved after the other, so temporary one flavor is more advanced than the other. Hence, the decision for one of the two flavors shall be based on organizational and business circumstances, but not on functionality.
IT Practicies with SAP NetWeaver
With the SAP NetWeaver platform, your organization can implement crucial IT practices in a flexible, step-by-step approach at low cost. You can address your immediate IT needs first and, since the platform components are tightly integrated, you can expand your practice projects over time within a sustainable cost structure.
SAP NetWeaver enables the following IT practices. For each practice, SAP NetWeaver supports a variety of key IT activities – all of which are easy to perform using the platform’s integrated components.
- User productivity enablement – Help users and groups improve their productivity through enhanced collaboration, optimized knowledge management, and personalized access to critical applications and data.
- Data unification – Consolidate, rationalize, synchronize, and manage all master data for improved business processes.
- Business information management – Increase the visibility, reach, and usefulness of structured and unstructured enterprise data.
- Business event management – Ensure that business events from multiple systems are distributed to the appropriate decision makers in the context of the relevant business processes.
- End-to-end process integration – Make disparate applications and systems work together consistently to perform business processes.
- Custom development – Rapidly create new enterprise-scale applications that drive your company’s differential advantage.
- Unified life-cycle management – Automate application management processes and optimize all facets of an application’s life cycle.
- Application governance and security management – Maintain an appropriate level of security and quality in your intellectual property and information assets.
- Consolidation – Deploy a consolidated technology platform with the ability to allocate computing power according to changing business needs.
- Service-oriented architecture design and deployment – Consolidate and standardize your basic processes and leverage existing investments to compose new, distinctive business processes.
SAP has put together a report, “IT Practices Overview”, which helps organizations explore how you can tap into SAP NetWeaver to solve business problems.
In case study, learn how Nordzucker AG improved communication and productivity with SAP NetWeaver Portal. Nordzucker AG is the second-largest sugar producer in the European Union (EU). With sugar production of approximately 1.9 million tons and 3,300 employees, Nordzucker generated revenues of approximately €1.2 billion in the 2004–2005 fiscal year).
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