E.ON Ruhrgas monitors and controls gas flow centrally. The company operates a sophisticated system of pipelines, underground storage facilities and compressor stations to ensure customers receive their gas as and when required. In 2001, the Essen-based company decided to install an IT landscape based on SAP NetWeaver – including the components SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence (SAP NetWeaver BI), SAP NetWeaver Portal, SAP NetWeaver Application Server (SAP NetWeaver AS) and SAP NetWeaver Exchange Infrastructure (SAP NetWeaver XI). “SAP NetWeaver lets us adapt our business to the open gas market flexibly and with little input,” explains Rüdiger Erbe, team leader SAP Financial Systems at E.ON Ruhrgas AG.
Keeping information under control
The open market policy meant that E.ON Ruhrgas had to merge its technical and commercial worlds and establish fully integrated processes and transparent information flows. SAP NetWeaver XI plays an important role here because it connects processes from several applications. “We are using SAP NetWeaver XI to connect different systems used at the company, making it easier to design processes in the future. Consequently, the system landscape is less complex and operating costs are lower,” confirms Erbe.
In 2004 as part of the ramp-up project, E.ON Ruhrgas performed a proof-of-concept for SAP NetWeaver XI 3.0 based on SAP NetWeaver AS. The Application Server is the basis for all SAP NetWeaver components, providing a scalable Java and ABAP runtime environment. “SAP NetWeaver AS allows us to implement our specific requirements. Furthermore, the shared infrastructure for the SAP and Java environments means that we can use existing knowledge,” explains Erbe. In summer 2005, E.ON Ruhrgas implemented an XI system based on an existing system landscape with three levels. Even at this early stage, E.ON Ruhrgas began to replace the first interfaces, with the future aim of working exclusively with SAP NetWeaver XI as the data platform.
As with SAP NetWeaver XI, the company decided to gradually implement the SAP NetWeaver platform for other company areas too. For example, NetWeaver BI was implemented in 2002 to make the company’s information flows transparent, allowing employees in cost-related departments fast access to company figures. “As a result of this implementation, we are in tune with today’s markets,” says Frank Schülke, departmental manager SAP Portal Systems at E.ON Ruhrgas AG. Data Warehousing – a function of SAP NetWeaver BI – has proven to be particularly useful in creating standardized or industry-specific reports based on data from SAP R/3 and other source systems.
Taking the plunge into a “unique” system landscape
“Next, we had to make sure that the relevant members of staff received the right information in real time,” remembers Ulrich Velling, divisional manager SAP Application Development and responsible for trans-sectoral tasks at E.ON Ruhrgas AG. Therefore, we decided to integrate SAP NetWeaver BI in a portal solution, provisionally using SAP NetWeaver Portal version 5.0. This solution allows all users to access data relevant to their tasks. In addition to employees using SAP NetWeaver BI to perform analyses and evaluations, this portal enables a further 750 project managers and employees working in cost-related departments to access relevant data as and when they need it. Today, instead of having to work through stacks of paper each month, employees can monitor costs electronically, right down to the document level – and can take immediate countermeasures in case of cost overruns.
Additionally, the Unifier available with SAP NetWeaver Portal offers one clear advantage – the unification technology allows data from different applications to be linked using Drag & Relate before being analyzed in SAP NetWeaver BI. As Erbe points out, “This solution gives us scope for scenarios that either could not be implemented before, or only with a lot of programming work.”
At the end of 2004, as part of its portal strategy, E.ON Ruhrgas upgraded to SAP NetWeaver Portal version 6.0. The company was given the go-ahead to change to the new platform in spring 2005. “As the portal landscape is designed as an enterprise portal, the development of the technical infrastructure – with firewalls, protected computer system between the networks and the cluster technology – proved especially demanding,” revealed Ulrich Velling, head of application development. In the course of the project, existing Web applications were integrated in the portal, for example applications from the transport business, supplier assessments, e-procurement or the sport and health portal for employees and their families. Existing SAP solutions such as SAP R/3 and mySAP Supplier Relationship Management (mySAP SRM) were also integrated. E.ON Ruhrgas now plans to make data available to external companies, such as business partners and suppliers, who will be able to access information and applications quickly and efficiently via the portal.
Creating added value with Enterprise SOA
E.ON Ruhrgas plans to stick to its strategy of gradual transition as it prepares the way towards installing enterprise SOA. The architecture lets employees work in a process-oriented and model-driven environment and makes it much easier to program applications. The company intends to continue using SAP software. Erbe sums up the situation succinctly: “SAP NetWeaver enables us to handle legal directives and challenges from the competition resulting from the deregulated gas market and to do so quickly and efficiently. The platform provides a solid basis for enterprise SOA, making our IT landscape more flexible in the long term and allowing us to integrate business processes much more easily in the future.”