Handling for Mobile Devices Made Easy

Feature Article | November 29, 2006 by admin

SAP NetWeaver Mobile

SAP NetWeaver Mobile

SAP NetWeaver assists companies in aligning IT with business requirements. It helps to create applications using enterprise services, organize business processes and events, manage enterprise information, and deliver applications and content to users more quickly and cost-effectively. SAP NetWeaver Mobile is the technical basis for enterprise mobility within SAP NetWeaver. The component, formerly known as SAP Mobile Infrastructure (SAP MI), provides a “future-proof” mobile run-time environment based on open and flexible technology standards and a development environment for creating integrated mobile solutions with local or browser-based user interfaces.
SAP NetWeaver Mobile consists of a server, technically embedded in SAP NetWeaver Application Server (SAP NetWeaver AS), and a client. The mobile clients are installed on mobile devices, which store the data locally. Data recorded on the mobile device is processed on the client using middleware components before being transferred to the backend and vice versa. For data changed in the field, SAP NetWeaver Mobile provides a synchronization and replication layer that resolves enterprise level data redundancy by using a middleware server to synchronize mobile devices with backend systems.

Composing processes flexibly

SAP NetWeaver Mobile administrator

SAP NetWeaver Mobile administrator

SAP NetWeaver addresses the strong need for business process evolution, a continual process which has to be made possible by an organization’s IT infrastructure. Using the new administrator features of SAP NetWeaver Mobile, system administrators can now manage mobile clients and mobile devices easily, instead of using a web console, as was necessary before. Various functions have been integrated in the mobile administrator. In some cases these functions are also available as direct ABAP functions such as creating device configurations for mobile devices or monitoring the data transfer and time taken from Mobile infrastructure client to server and vice versa. Therefore, the system administrator can monitor data in one browser window of SAP NetWeaver administrator and does not have to switch between hundreds of ABAP transactions. He gets an overview of how much and what kind of data is transferred to a client during a synchronization cycle. The new features include an ABAP synchronization service, parameter sets, new grouping mechanisms, new monitoring functions, and setup packages.

Faster communication

Compared to the old SAP mobile infrastructure world, where Java SyncServlet was used for the synchronization process, SAP NetWeaver Mobile administrator uses the new ABAP synchronization service. This service ensures improved performance in the synchronization mechanism, and it is much faster to communicate messages than with Java SyncServlet.

Transferring configuration parameters easily

The enterprises can use parameter sets to define various parameters for the client for mobile devices and for drivers installed on the mobile devices. They can, for example, configure parameters to monitor the battery capacity of the mobile device or use the “time agent” parameter set to monitor and change the time and date settings on the mobile device. All parameters defined in a mobile configuration file, for example, can be modified. New ones can be added for the client for the parameter type “mobile configuration” – such as “trace on or off,” “define the trace level,” “data packaging,” “repetitive synchronization activated or not,” or “host name”. Either SAP or customer-specific parameters can be used.
SAP NetWeaver Mobile configuration parameters are now available in one parameter set and transferred to the mobile device simply. Without this option, administrators had to configure the “mobile configuration” parameters in the mobile engine configuration file. For other types, such registry or storage agents, they had to define the parameter values on the ABAP stack.
One of the various types of standard parameters is the battery agent, which is used to monitor the battery capacity of the mobile device. If it has been configured to do so, the battery capacity is logged on the mobile device and transferred to the server at regular intervals during the synchronization period. Another standard parameter is the time agent. It helps monitor and change the time and date settings on the mobile device to a particular time zone. Administrators can use another standard parameter, the storage agent, to monitor a mobile device’s storage media and storage capacity. This is a useful feature for enterprises that handle large amounts of data or companies working with PDAs.

Defining business processes precisely

The new administrator features include a hierarchy to map a customer-based business structure. Customers can define their business processes very precisely using device configurations, parameter sets, and hierarchy groups.
An example: an organization has two locations – one in the north and one in the south. The northern employees work with PDAs, the southern employees with WinXP. In such a case, administrators define the organization as the main hierarchy group in the SAP NetWeaver Mobile administrator and the locations as sub-hierarchy groups. The device configurations for these hierarchy groups are defined using this system.
Device configuration is a bundle of mobile components and mobile settings that helps to configure mobile devices. In device configuration, administrators can specify the mobile components and define conditions. With these, administrators can control the deployment of a device configuration and specify, for example, CPU (central processing unit) as ARM, XScale or x86, Database such as File I/O, MaxDB or DB2e, or operating systems such as WinXP, Win2000, PPC03 or PPC02. After device configurations have been defined, they can be assigned to a mobile device. This can be done by assigning the device configuration to a mobile device directly, by using roles, or by assigning it to a hierarchy group, in which case the administrator specifies the users who belong to this hierarchy group.
Device configuration simplifies the grouping mechanism, as customers can use it to configure mobile devices and assign mobile components without having direct access to them and can assign the configurations to various mobile devices, users, user groups, or roles. Consequently, the users’ devices receive the new configurations during the next synchronization. The configuration is performed on the mobile device automatically. The maintenance technicians or sales representatives who are on site don’t have to perform any other additional steps. Administrators can create and change business processes rapidly before sending them on to their technicians without interruption.

Simplified monitoring functions

Furthermore, the administrator functions available in SAP NetWeaver Mobile provide new, simplified monitoring features with the help of different monitors. such as the generic synchronization queue monitor, technical synchronization monitor, smart synchronization replication monitor and SyncBO processing statistics. SyncBOs are synchronizer business objects contained in each application-specific data model. The SyncBOs are the foundation of all synchronization processes initiated in smart synchronization.
Administrators can use the diverse monitors to check, for example, how much and what kind of data is transferred to a client during synchronization, or how long the container has already been in the queue to determine devices that are no longer used. They can identify problems with regard to performance, bandwidth, or data volume, and get an exact picture of the entire synchronization process from when the technician initially triggers synchronization to the completion message on the client.

Setup packages reduce administrative effort

Earlier, when technicians suffered problems with their mobile devices or applications, they had to send them back to their administrators. The applications had to be implemented again and were then sent back to the technicians, which was very time-consuming. These processes are simplified by setup packages. They are used to reduce the administrative effort during the rollout phase or in disaster recovery. The packages contain installation files that can be installed on mobile devices by end users. They include, for example, SAP NetWeaver Mobile framework, applications, and data. The user obtains a setup package from a CD, DVD, a Secure Digital Memory Card (SD Card) or via the network and can start work immediately. Depending on the platform – Win32 or PPC – administrators receive a “setup.zip” file for Win32 Platform or “XXX.CAB” file for PPC at the end of “creation of setup packages”. By extracting the zip file, for example, they get a setup folder containing a setup.exe file. They can then execute this file to install a mobile client.
Depending on the setup package installed, this mobile client, also known as the client image, contains a mobile application with or without data. These client images are created for either a single user with user-specific data, or mass installation in which one client image can be delivered to hundreds of users. This client image contains the SAP NetWeaver Mobile framework and, for example, an application such as SAP xApp Mobile Asset Management (SAP xMAM). A setup package contains an installation file. Administrators have to configure the J2EE system to enable setup packages to be created. When users synchronize the client image for the first time they receive a distinct device ID, and with the further synchronizations they receive user-specific configurations on their mobile devices. The process is thus particularly suitable for firms in which the users or technicians are mostly on site.

Purnima Walle

Purnima Walle

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