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SAP Web Application Server — What It Is...and What It Is Not

by Dr. Franz-Josef Fritz | SAPinsider

January 1, 2003

by Dr. Franz-Josef Fritz, SAP AG SAPinsider - 2003 (Volume 4), January (Issue 1)

What SAP Web Application Server Is

  • SAP Web Application Server (“SAP Web AS” for short) is an industrial-strength application server product and the next generation of Basis. It delivers all the functionality that Basis did, and then a lot more. Think of it as a superset of Basis. Think of it as enveloping Basis with tremendous web capabilities, chief among them the ability to run Java/J2EE applications alongside ABAP applications. And I want to state for the record that the addition of Java/J2EE to this application server in no way compromises support for ABAP. All your investments in ABAP-based solutions are well protected. The difference is that now both ABAP and Java/J2EE development and runtime environments reside on one platform, on one common infrastructure. This unified ABAP/Java system landscape minimizes developer learning efforts and cost of administration.

  • SAP Web AS is able to run on a single laptop machine, on high-powered multiprocessor machines, on multiple servers in a LAN, and on server clusters for high availability — and it will also run on upcoming blade servers.

  • SAP Web AS is a platform that provides an abstraction layer between applications and the underlying operating system. This means that you can choose operating systems according to your corporate strategies and needs, and that you can change your operating systems without any porting effort for your applications.

  • SAP Web AS is a platform that is database-independent. Applications can be written in a way that makes them portable across multiple database systems, like Oracle, DB2, Microsoft SQL Server, and SAP DB. Among SAP customers, roughly 200 database migrations are performed per month, so we know that customers need the flexibility to change their database system.

  • SAP Web AS is a platform that delivers a full set of software development tools for Java and ABAP application development. While our ABAP development tools have remained a bastion for SAP and its customers, mainly serving developers who build SAP-centric applications, our Java development tools are wide open. They have been designed to address the typical needs of enterprises to develop, run, and maintain server-based Java solutions.

  • SAP Web AS is a robust and scalable application server. On the low end, it can be run on a single laptop machine. On the high end, it can be run on a cluster of dozens of application server boxes in combination with the largest database servers available. Recent benchmarks have shown that up to 45,000 (yes, forty-five thousand) concurrent R/3 SD users can be supported.

  • SAP Web AS is embedded in SAP R/3 Enterprise, SAP CRM, SAP BW, SAP Exchange Infrastructure, and other mySAP components, providing the critical, underlying technology base for these SAP solutions. The embedded version provides a runtime license for the specific SAP solution in which it runs, as well as for customer extensions of that solution. The runtime license fee is included in the user pricing for each of these SAP solutions, or in the overall license.1

  • SAP Web AS is an application server that can be licensed as a standalone product. In this role, it can serve as a platform for custom software development and operations, which go beyond SAP solutions and simple extensions or modifications. There is a separate runtime license fee, which can be CPU-based or user-based. Developer seats require an additional user license.

  • SAP Web AS is also a platform for third-party applications developed and marketed by SAP partners. A certification program especially for complementary Java software offerings is in the preparation and pilot phase.

What SAP Web Application Server Is Not

  • SAP Web AS is not just a new name for the SAP Basis technology. The SAP Web AS is a markedly enhanced successor to the former Basis technology. Function-wise, it provides everything the Basis system has provided, and then infuses all the new Internet and web service-enabling technology and a full-featured J2EE engine. SAP Web AS is, in fact, a superset of the former Basis.

  • SAP Web AS is not just a technology for building and running web pages in ABAP. Business Server Pages (BSP) were introduced as one of the many innovations in SAP Web AS 6.10. Compared to earlier approaches, the BSP approach provides a fast and easy way to build web applications with ABAP technology. But SAP Web AS is much more than that — Business Server Pages are just one feature of the new web application development capabilities. They provide a first subset of the new Web Dynpro technology, which comes bundled in the newer versions of SAP Web AS.

  • SAP Web AS is not just a J2EE engine, nor is it just an ABAP engine. It is both. In 2001, SAP acquired a J2EE company, InQMy, and integrated the company’s J2EE technology into SAP Web AS. This in no way obviates the ABAP support provided by SAP Web AS, which is designed to fully support both ABAP and Java applications. SAP Web AS can be configured to run just Java, just ABAP, or both. The choice is yours.

  • SAP Web AS is not just a technology component inside R/3 Enterprise. SAP Web AS is the technology foundation for R/3 Enterprise,2 but it is also the technology foundation built into most other SAP products as well, like CRM, BW, SRM, Exchange Infrastructure, and so on.

1 Note that the license fee does not cover full-fledged custom-developed software.

2 See my article "SAP R/3 Enterprise — What Does Your Enterprise Stand to Gain from This New Technology?" in the October-December 2002 issue of SAP Insider.

Franz J. Fritz has a Ph.D. in mathematics and 30 years of experience in all areas of IT. Workflow and business process management have been particular areas of interest for much of his life. He has worked for SAP since 1993 as Program Director and Vice President with responsibility for the Business Process Technology and Internet-Business Framework departments. Recently, he took over the responsibility for technology architecture and technology product management within SAP AG.

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