What is SAP NetWeaver?
SAP NetWeaver is the technological platform for all SAP business applications. What does that mean? In simple terms, it provides the technological environment or runtime to run the business solutions offered by SAP. The way Java web applications need a Java web server (e.g. Apache Tomcat) for hosting themselves, similarly SAP business applications need SAP NetWeaver. But wait, its not only this much. SAP NetWeaver, not only caters to SAP business applications, instead it provides the platform to manage the needs of the entire IT landscape of its customer companies.
In present times, most of the large enterprises have a very complex IT landscape comprising of best in breed business solutions from different vendors to suffice the needs of different business processes. For example, a company can choose Financial Accounting solutions of SAP, CRM from Oracle and so on. In order to achieve the most out of this complex IT landscape, all this applications need to work in an integrated manner. SAP NetWeaver achieves this task by virtue of its various components which offer different levels of integration.
What are different integration levels and components of SAP NetWeaver?
The first and foremost component of SAP Netweaver is Application Platform which provides both ABAP stack & Java stack to support ABAP based and Java based applications present in SAP product portfolio.
This level of integration is focussed around the people i.e. the end users of the business solutions. Using different sub components, this component provides different kinds of integration for people.
- Enterprise Portal: This is the first kind of integration provided to people using which all SAP and Non-SAP applications can be accessed from a single dashboard. Just imagine a situation where an end-user has to visit multiple applications for different business needs with each application providing its own way of accessing it. How time consuming and non-user friendly situation is this. Enterprise portal provides the capability to integrate different SAP and Non-SAP application to a common browser-based frontend.
- Collaboration Functions: This is the second kind of integration which facilitates the integration of multiple end-users. It provides tools for collaboration such as sharing and access of common resources, real time interactions and discussion forums for exchanging information.
- Multichannel Access: SAP Applications not only could be accessed using desktop client application (SAP GUI) in the conventional way, it can be accessed through web browser using ITS (Internet transaction server) as well as on your mobile devices using SAP MI (Mobile Infrastructure).
Another level of integration needed in a company’s IT landscape is the integration of the business processes, which means different business applications supporting these business processes need to seamlessly exchange information with each other. Take an example, where the customer orders are being captured in a CRM application (can be SAP or non-SAP). Now, this order information needs to be passed on to Procurement department (uses SAP Matarial Management application) as well as to Production department (uses SAP Production Planning application). None of these application can really help the end-to-end business of the customer company until they exchange information with each other. To provide this integration of business processes, SAP NetWeaver provides a component named SAP PI (SAP Process Integration). SAP PI provides capabilities of connecting different SAP and non-SAP application to exchange information mainly based on open standard e.g. XML.
- Business Intelligence: Different business applications (both SAP & non-SAP) supporting different business processes at an enterprise, collectively form the OLTP (Online Transaction Processing) system. These business applications capture large amount of transactional data from day to day business. But what’s the use of this data, if it can not be used to take the business forward. To enable the analysis of captured transactional data in OLTP systems, we need OLAP (Online Analytical Processing) systems. SAP NetWeaver provides this capability through its component SAP Business Intelligence (known as SAP BI or SAP BW) and thus constitute the OLAP system.
This component gets input data from OLTP systems comprising of business applications from different vendors, carry out the cleansing and homogenization of the input data and finally provides different meaningful reports which trigger the formation of future enterprise strategy. The formed enterprise strategy then again becomes the input to OLTP systems.
- Master Data Management: Every business application involves the creation and usage of large amount of master data. Some common example of master data are customers, vendors, bank accounts etc. There could be many business applications which make use of the same master data e.g. CRM, SD and FI, all these applications deal which customer master data. Usually, each of these applications maintain their own set of master data, which gives rise to data redundancy and variations in each application. In order to get rid of these problems and to manage master data centrally at one location, SAP NetWeaver provides SAP Master Data Management (known as SAP MDM). All the master data is managed centrally in SAP MDM and then distributed to each of the business applications needing it.
- Knowledge Management: This component of SAP NetWeaver provides content management services. It also offers powerful text search functionality, using search engine TREX, to search and classify contents.
So, we just had a brief overview of each of the integration levels and components of SAP NetWeaver. As a part of SAP ABAP Certification Course (TAW12_70), we are just expected to know briefly about individual components of SAP NetWeaver and their purposes.
Please feel free to suggest any enrichment or correction needed in the post.
Goodbye, till we meet next time.