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8 Ways to Save Time and Money with SAP Web Application Server

by Franz J. Fritz | SAPinsider

July 1, 2003

by Franz J. Fritz, SAP AG SAPinsider - 2003 (Volume 4), July (Issue 3)

SAP NetWeaver, SAP’s application and integration platform, is the technology stack for all SAP applications and solutions. Think of it as a superset of the former mySAP Technology.1 It encompasses SAP Enterprise Portal, SAP Exchange Infrastructure, Mobile Infrastructure, SAP Business Information Warehouse, Master Data Management, and a lot more.

These building blocks of the SAP NetWeaver application and integration platform run on SAP Web Application Server. So does R/3 Enterprise, so do SAP solutions such as mySAP CRM and suites like mySAP Business Suite — and so will our future offerings. Since SAP Web Application Server forms the application layer for all these SAP offerings, most of you already have SAP Web Application Server or soon will. In fact, more and more customers are adopting SAP Web Application Server (starting with release 6.10) as a standalone component for their custom development activities.

As an integral part of all these SAP components, and capable of operation as a standalone component as well, SAP Web Application Server forms a unifying technology layer that offers no less than eight ways to save time, money, and IT resources:

  1. With a unified application layer, your higher-level application components (such as XI or CRM) do not interact directly with the particulars of your DBMS or operating system. This platform abstraction is not only a TCO benefit when running your SAP applications, it’s clearly a benefit when running your custom applications, too. It makes for a far more adaptable upgrade environment, a necessity nowadays when the latest generation of hardware can require entirely new operating systems. What’s more, it is also a business imperative, with mergers, acquisitions, and changing marketing conditions that can thrust dramatic IT infrastructure changes on an IT department.

  2. You’ll find greater support for multiple operating systems and database ystems compared to R/3 and SAP Basis. With the SAP Web AS, you have broad freedom of choice when combining operating systems and DBMSs, and you can run all SAP NetWeaver application components and services on your choice of infrastructure.

  3. Often customers find that their applications and solutions have a much longer life than the underlying technical infrastructure. But with a unified application platform layer, you have the freedom to move to another OS or DBMS without expensive and time-consuming migration efforts for the applications and solutions residing on top of these systems. Many SAP customers have already experienced this during upgrades or migration of their R/3 systems — and now they have the same freedom and choice for the whole SAP NetWeaver platform.

  4. If you have worked on a native HTML and server-page level, you’ve likely found yourself in tricky browser (or even browser release) dependencies. Web Dynpro technology, available as part of the SAP Web AS, provides for easy and powerful definition of user interfaces and a “unified rendering” layer above the physical HTML data stream — which brings similar benefits for a host of browsers and devices. As long as applications and portal services use the Web Dynpro abstraction layer, they can be run on a variety of browsers and browser releases, without rewriting!

  5. This application platform provides common services for system installation, upgrade, management, and monitoring. It also provides corresponding system management tools that are unified (or will be unified in the very near future), so your whole SAP NetWeaver platform will benefit from these innovations and advances.

  6. For some enterprises, high availability is business-critical; the costs of unplanned downtime of a particular application can even threaten the bottom line. A common application platform makes establishing high availability for an entire solution much easier. All essential parts of the application platform can be configured so there is no single point of failure; whenever one technical component breaks down, another can take over. High availability also requires support from the hardware and operating system layer, and the appropriate best-practice operating procedures. SAP helps here by providing such guidelines.

  7. This common application platform provides the basic Web services technology used heavily throughout the SAP NetWeaver stack for open integration with Java and Microsoft .NET. Compared to earlier integration approaches like EDI and specialized Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) packages, Web services technology is much simpler, costs less, and is easier to learn and use. The business intelligence, Exchange Infrastructure, portal, and collaboration layers in SAP NetWeaver all make significant use of Web services technology for integration.

  8. The SAP Web Application Server provides complementary ABAP and Java execution environments. The ABAP runtime environment provides what has been long-regarded as the industry’s highest levels of robustness, stability, reliability, and performance for production environments, while the Java/J2EE environment provides openness, full standards compliance, and all the opportunities that come with this dynamically evolving technology. In particular, Java skills, which are broadly taught these days, can be leveraged. Existing Java standards-compliant applications can be brought onto the SAP Web Application Server without porting efforts, which can help to simplify the system landscape and reduce the number of server types.

Of course, the full value of the SAP NetWeaver application and integration platform comes when you exercise all the components in the stack (shown in Figure 1) — not just SAP Web Application Server. If you want to achieve interoperability among SAP solutions and IBM WebSphere or Microsoft .NET solutions, or tap into the new breed of applications known as “xApps,” you would traverse the length of the SAP NetWeaver platform. Rest assured, SAP is rapidly moving toward a synchronized delivery and installation for all SAP NetWeaver components.

Figure 1 SAP Web Application Server Creates a Unified Application Platform and System Landscape

1 Whereas mySAP Technology, which was announced in 2001, covered the application platform (SAP Web AS), people integration (Portal Infrastructure) and process integration (Exchange Infrastructure), SAP NetWeaver goes beyond that to comprise information integration with business intelligence, knowledge management, and master data management capabilities. SAP NetWeaver not only supports SAP solutions, it is also ready to support custom application and integration needs.

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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