Enterprise SOA 101

Feature Article | January 10, 2007 by admin

A software based on service-oriented architectures (SOA) enables enterprises to react quickly to a new business environment. Enterprises can flexibly adapt their software to new business processes and thereby increase the agility of their IT operations and business strategy. “SAP Discovery System for Enterprise SOA” makes it easier for SAP customers to get to grips with this topic: examples and environments explain how to handle a service-oriented architecture within an operational enterprise SOA environment. The production systems are not affected by this. A scenario for procurement, for example, provides users with cross-system and cross-application access to the relevant business context. The scenario is based on standardized enterprise services and maps all stages of the procurement process – from order creation and stock analysis, the creation of a supplier directory, assignment of a procurement order, and confirmation of the purchase order right through to receipt of the goods.
The SAP Discovery System also enables composite applications to be developed rapidly. All the components needed for this are made available on a single server. With the help of preconfigured software, developers can create prototypes for applications, and test how new business processes can be modeled flexibly and simply on the basis of enterprise services. Standard components from SAP are used here, so a complete business scenario can be carried out “from A to Z” even in a sample implementation. Decision-makers are therefore able to evaluate the effect of enterprise SOA accurately. They can find out which complex business operations – particularly the cross-organization or cross-enterprise processes – can be adaptively supported. These insights make it clear how the concept could work in their own company.

Preconfigured and ready to go

List of contents

List of contents

The SAP Discovery System is based on the simple formula “hardware + software + content = smooth start” and includes a preconfigured SOA environment, access to SAP software and tools, and business process examples. As all elements are already installed and preconfigured, the system is ready for use as soon as it is switched on. In addition to the operating system, database, or HP server, the system also includes mySAP ERP 2005 and SAP NetWeaver 2004s, among other things.

The applications are also filled with sample data and ready for two-way communication, as the individual components have already been configured and integrated. The backend is therefore able to “speak to” a Java application on the SAP NetWeaver Application Server (SAP NetWeaver AS) via SAP NetWeaver Exchange Infrastructure (SAP NetWeaver XI). The individual elements are comprehensively documented. The user can carry out demos and exercises using service-based sample processes: for the “Request for New Supplier Master Data” process, for example, the user creates master data for a new vendor – easily and without specialist technical knowledge.

Adapting knowledge step-by-step

The SAP Discovery System goes through various development phases, which correspond to the particular level of knowledge an enterprise has with regard to enterprise SOA. Initially it serves as a learning environment: users follow instructions that provide step-by-step explanations with examples – the processing of an ordering process based on enterprise SOA, for example – and are therefore able to create content independently.
As soon as an enterprise has become familiar with the subject, the second phase begins: the SAP Discovery System provides all the necessary development tools such as SAP NetWeaver Developer Studio, Composite Application Framework (CAF) and Guided Procedures and makes it easier for an enterprise to create its first test developments. As a rule, these are usually examples with a limited functional scope, for example the inventory of objects on a new employee’s first day of work, because users should first understand how the components of a composite application are related to each other.
In the final phase, individual composites are used for internal pilot projects or proof-of-concepts. Here, the SAP Discovery System supports cooperation with internal target groups: “presentable” results created with the help of the SAP Discovery Systems in a pilot project ease communication with the sponsoring business areas, as a concrete discussion on the process and its IT implementation is possible based on the initial prototypes. Instead of a highly technical discussion on specific applications or technologies, the IT and business departments have the opportunity to speak about the same thing in common terms based on concrete examples.

Learning by example

The SAP Discovery System offers a sample collection of common business scenarios in the form of composite applications. These are based on the current version of mySAP ERP and use enterprise services based on SAP NetWeaver. The scenario for procurement, for example, supports the roles of salesperson, buyer, procurement manager, and warehouse manager relevant in this area. In this scenario, the salesperson places an order using the functionality of SAP Interactive Forms by Adobe. The procurement manager uses an analysis application in SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence to evaluate the current warehouse system and then starts the Web Dynpro application within SAP NetWeaver Portal to trigger an inquiry to various suppliers. The procurement manager receives offers and places orders for the required parts, and the warehouse manager then receives the goods and enters them in the ERP system.
The configuration of SAP NetWeaver Portal reflects the particular user roles within the process and their specific interfaces needed in the workflow. Other components, such as SAP NetWeaver Master Data Management and SAP NetWeaver Exchange Infrastructure, run in the background. They harmonize the data and synchronize the process. As a result, they can easily run in both heterogeneous and SAP environments.
The SAP Discovery System also contains other sample scenarios: with “Investment Approval”, controlling departments are able to check and release investment requests. Master data for a new vendor can be created easily, efficiently, and without technical specialist knowledge using “Request for New Supplier Master Data”. With the help of “Request for Quotation Approval”, the time between customer inquiry and offer release is reduced, and data no longer has to be managed in duplicate. “Production Order Rescheduling” makes it possible to carry out a comprehensive problem analysis in the event of plant and machine failures in the sphere of production, while in “Store-specific Consumer Prices Maintenance” an intuitive interface supports users in inquiries relating to the retail prices of individual stores and in the search for competitors’ prices. Buyers can use “Strategic Investment Buy Simulation” to react in real time to ad hoc offers from suppliers.
There are also a few analytical scenarios. These are part of SAP xApps Composite Applications for Analytics. They seamlessly merge information from various sources within the enterprise. Each of these scenarios is tailored to a specific task and executed by a particular user role. A scenario for exception rulings in travel expense settlement, for example, enables managers to map tasks that represent an exception to the usual business method. They are also in a position to inform employees about these exception rulings and to make the corresponding changes in the backend system. With the help of scenarios for the approval of investments, analysts from individual business areas can view requests for funds. Their release is simplified by mapping financial metrics, as this always allows the request to be seen in relation to the overall budget.

Jewgeni Kravets

Jewgeni Kravets

Raimund Gross

Raimund Gross

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