When developers and administrators seek “better” ways
for end-users to access business intelligence, it’s usually not
that the reports and data aren’t already there — they’re
actually looking for easier access to information that already exists.
They may talk of better “content management” or “knowledge
management,” but it simply boils down to providing faster, more
efficient access to the reports users need — no matter what systems
they might be located in.
For scenarios like these, take advantage
of the Unification possibilities SAP offers with SAP Enterprise Portal
(SAP EP) and SAP Business Information Warehouse (SAP BW).1
“Unification” is SAP’s term for the exchange of data
between various applications and information sources through the portal
interface. It essentially enables user-directed, context-based navigation
across multiple applications. Unification is driven by the Unification
platform — technology provided by SAP Enterprise Portal —
and features Drag&Relate functionality, designed to help users access
information more efficiently.
This article provides a brief overview
of how you can bring Drag&Relate and cross-system information access
to SAP BW reports.
When Users Drag&Relate, the Unification
Platform Is At Work Behind the Scenes
SAP Enterprise Portal offers users a single point of access for various
backend systems. Users gain easy-to-use integration via a collection of
toolbars and Web components, requests, and queries set up by the portal
administrator in the Enterprise Portal iPanel (see Figure 1),
along with Drag&Relate features.
||Portal Interface Displaying BW Report with Drag&Relate Capabilities
Drag&Relate involves dragging and
dropping an icon from one report (source) into
another (target) query or application, for
context-specific access to information within
either a single application or across systems
and platforms. With Drag&Relate,
users can bring up data “on the fly” — they
do not have to open multiple programs and
run separate queries to get the needed results.
And all this occurs through the portal front
We’ll explore some of the technical
requirements and processes for enabling a cross-system Drag&Relate
scenario — one that takes data from a BW report to access related
customer information from R/3.
In our example, a user viewing a BW report
within the Portal shown in Figure 1 would like to view the customer master
record, which is located in a remote SAP R/3 backend system.
Once the source link in the SAP BW report
and the target in the SAP R/3 system are set up, the user can simply drag
the source link
next to the customer listed and drop it onto theicon
for the Display Customer R/3 transaction query, listed in her
iView. The resulting Display Customer screen is shown in Figure
2 — which appears without a separate login or a separate
search for the customer’s master data.
the Unification Platform Supports
our example, the source link is provided
by the SAP BW system within the
BW report. Once the user drags the
BW link onto the R/3 link in the
iView, a source link URL is generated.
This URL is re-routed from the portal
to the Unification Server, and then
into the BW Unifier,2 where
it is resolved to the correct backend
system (in this case, R/3). The correct
Unifier is identified within the
portal by the logical system name
provided in the source link URL:
This all works seamlessly because
during the mapping, the InfoObject name (e.g., ØSOLD_TO)
and the logical system name (B3TCLNT800) from BW are automatically
replaced by, respectively, the BOR name and logical system name
from the R/3 system. In this process, the Unification Server translates
the Drag&Relate request for the DQP Server. The DQP Server then
translates the SQL query to the R/3 system language, which in turn
makes a Remote Function Call (RFC) to the R/3 system.3
The R/3 system runs the query it
was sent and returns the result data back to the DQP Server via
ITS.4 The DQP Server takes the returned
data and passes it along to the Unification Server, which in turn
forwards the data to the end user as formatted data.
Consider these good starting points for adding cross-system Drag&Relate
to your SAP BW reports:
- To display what a specific customer has ordered: Drag
a customer from R/3 onto a sales order in a BW query.
- To see what a colleague has published lately: Drag
an employee from a BW HR web application onto “Author search”
on the Internet.
- To find out if an order has reached its destination:
Drag a sales order from a BW Query onto delivery status in R/3.
Make Sure All
the Elements Are in Place: Prerequisites
this scenario works with SAP BW 3.0B/3.1
(with SAP EP 5.0) and higher. In the BW
system, you must first install the Enterprise
and enable Drag&Relate for
BW queries. This will allow the BW queries
and Web templates to be launched from
BW via Drag&Relate.
||Components Required in the Unification Architecture
The platform that supports this kind of
seamless access is shown in Figure 3. It includes the
portal client, remote and local backend application servers (here, R/3
and BW), a DQP Server6 (a third-party server
whose function is to send queries to applications and databases), and
the Enterprise Portal’s Unification Platform, which includes:
- Unification Server: The engine driving unification
of databases, legacy systems, and enterprise applications in SAP Enterprise
- Unifiers: Applications that provide for advanced
integration of a particular environment into SAP Enterprise Portal.
In our example, the BW Unifier is mandatory, but the R/3 Unifier (or
any other third-party or database Unifiers) is optional.
- Unifier Repository: Metadata from the backend systems
are stored here. In our example, InfoCubes are extracted from SAP BW
when the source links are set up. This eliminates the need for any backend
modification during the Drag&Relate event.
Once the BW Unifier is installed and requirements are in place, the
administrator creates the source link in the BW report by creating a “BW
Unifier project,” the interface displaying the Drag&Relate-enabled
report. Each BW Unifier project represents a different role within the
SAP BW and SAP EP system.
If the project is a remote BW or R/3 Unifier project (that
is, not on the same machine as the local machine) then a linked server
must be defined. Although a linked server is created automatically
when you create a Unifier project, the different machines will not
be able to see the linked server that belongs to a remote project.
A new linked server must be created on the local machine for the new
Create the Interface and Source Link: Unifier Project
Step-by-step instructions for creating a Unifier Project are covered in
the documentation (see references at the end of the article), and wizards
and tools in SAP EP administration tools will guide you through the creation
of your BW Unifier project.
Once you’ve activated your project, it appears in the iPanel.
From there, users can Drag&Relate an object from a remote
or local component onto a local component. To take your Unifier
project to the next level — where users can Drag&Relate from
a local component (in our example, SAP BW) to a remote component
(SAP R/3) — requires correlation.
Add the Cross-System
BW and SAP R/3 objects are great candidates
for cross-system Drag&Relate
functionality, simply because, in most cases,
a BW InfoObject (like “Sold-to
party”) already has an equivalent in
the R/3 BOR7 (like “Customer”). Because much
of your SAP BW data is downloaded from SAP
R/3, if you want to access an R/3 Unifier project,
there is a good possibility that some components
from the two projects match up. Objects like
these form the “bridge” between
different Unifier projects.
Once you’ve created your BW Unifier
project, you can correlate the project with any other SAP or non-SAP Unifier
project. (Again, tools and wizards guide you through this.) Within each
Unifier, you must activate the Correlator tool, and then define the bridge
between the correlated information sources. Once projects are correlated,
you define bridges between local projects and remote projects. (The BW
Unifier even supports multiple bridges within correlated projects.) Then,
from the iPanel, the user can potentially Drag&Relate between any
— remote or local — Unifiers available via the portal.
After correlation is complete, the administrator
can return to the administration tools and add more connections using
the project’s relationship editor.8
The Unifier always searches for the shortest path between the projects.
By correlating Unifier projects, you can provide your users with a wealth
of options for using Drag&Relate.
and Drag&Relate allow the user to enter
and maintain data in various backend sources
with ease. Users will no longer have to bounce
back and forth from various GUI applications.
In fact, Drag&Relate nicely complements
traditional BW report-to-report interfacing. With report-to-report interfacing,
users could select key figures like a ledger balance on a report, and
drill down to a predetermined set of information. Now, users have access
to context-specific, master-data driven, ad hoc queries where InfoObjects
are mapped to potentially any number of business objects in SAP or non-SAP
sources. A single BW query might lead to any number of related information
requests, fulfilled via the portal interface. With Unification in place,
you now have a convenient way to provide users access to the business
intelligence that is ready and waiting within your system landscape.
For more information on the SAP Unification
Platform, see the “Unification Guides” for SAP Enterprise
Portal 5.09 at http://help.sap.com.
this article focusses on the integaration
possibilities of SAP BW and SAP EP, there
are also unification scenarios for third-party
and SAP R/3 backened systems as well.
the ISAPI (Internet Service Application
Programming Intergace) filter.
requires the Portal Plug-In in R/3.
5.00. See SAP Note 440447.
Query Processing Server — most commonly
this is an SQL Server.
the BW project is on another machine from
another correlated project, you may have
to make some changes within the Data Access
tool after correlation is achieved.
Braker comes from a traditional coding
background, which he began in 1985 at HBO
in New York. Scott entered into the e-commerce
arena in 1995 by working on one of the
first online stores available to the consumer
In 1996, he was asked to build a real-time
e-commerce store for the country’s
largest privately owned computer wholesale/reseller
(Comark, Inc., now Insight). Scott spent
1996 through late 2000 building a team
and a state-of-the-art real-time Web-to-R/3
environment for Comark. He joined SAP in
2001, where he is now a Senior Technical
Consultant for the Portals/BW Regional
Implementation Group (RIG).