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Getting Started with Enterprise Services Architecture: Beyond Integrating Systems to Enabling Growth and Innovation

by Ravi Swaminath | SAPinsider

October 1, 2005

Enterprise Services Architecture (ESA) is recognized as the way to transform tasks working across disparate solutions into coherent, streamlined business processes. This article introduces you to the ESA Adoption Program and additional resources offered by SAP, helping you create a roadmap to successfully implement and operate Enterprise Services Architecture in your organization.
 

Taking individual tasks that are working across disparate solutions and transforming them into coherent, streamlined business processes has proven to be a costly exercise. It is also one that is becoming only more critical with increased infrastructure complexity and inherited legacy applications due to mergers and acquisitions, not to mention the competitive pressures to integrate customers and partners into these processes.

A services-oriented architecture (SOA) is recognized as the way to resolve these challenges. At the same time, this Web-services-based architecture can also accelerate new business functionality and avoid many of the costs of building and maintaining new processes. SOA is a distributed software model that uses independent Web services to integrate current business processes and act as the building blocks for entirely new business processes as needed. The beauty of this architecture is reusability — Web services can be reused in sequences, as defined by the business logic, to form applications that enable specific business processes.

Some Quick Facts About ESA

Enterprise Services Architecture (ESA) is a services-oriented architecture (SOA) that merges SAP's enterprise application content with the open composition platform, SAP NetWeaver, to support flexible business processes across the extended enterprise and across technical and organizational boundaries, enabling the integration of people, information, and processes.

  • Key benefits of SOA include its adaptability, flexibility, and openness, which are all needed to update and adopt processes while keeping development costs down. SAP's ESA approach differentiates itself as a comprehensive blueprint for services-based, enterprise-scale business solutions. Enterprise services are the backbone ofESA; these are Web services specifically intended to provide the robustness, security, manageability, and supportability needed at the enterprise level.

  • The SAP NetWeaver platform is the technical enabler of Enterprise Services Architecture. Because SAP NetWeaver is a single product that includes an integration platform (see Figure 1), companies that use SAP NetWeaver as the primary general technology platform are able to mitigate the costs of implementing different integration technologies, whereas other competitors will require additional costs to have their technologies communicate with each other.

Figure 1
The SAP NetWeaver Platform Combines Applications and Technology Capabilities

SAP has enhanced and extended this concept with its own flavor of SOA, Enterprise Services Architecture (ESA). By combining the openness of Web services and technology standards with SAP's business process and industry solution expertise, ESA doesn't stop at integrating your current legacy solutions using Web services. It also focuses on how Web services can work to create fully integrated IT environments that meet the demands of enterprise-scale scenarios, built entirely on services-based business processes that extend across systems and business boundaries.

With ESA in place, you have a blueprint for building, using, and sharing Web services to create composite applications (see sidebar above). The end result is a number of processes, all derived from Web services, that connect and communicate with multiple applications. Imagine a composite application that is an aggregation of Web services like "cancel order." Canceling an order requires more than deleting an order record in, say, the sales management system in mySAP CRM. It may require halting production processes in mySAP SCM, canceling invoices in the mySAP ERP financial system, and altering other tasks as defined by the business. Another process may reuse particular Web services from this composite application to cancel an order from a newly external application. An ESA-enabled enterprise can confidently move forward, knowing that all of these processes and systems are working in lockstep with each other to seamlessly manage this business change.

However, before the promise of Enterprise Services Architecture can be realized, you must first understand where you can best use your existing IT systems and technology with Web services, and how to weave together the old and the new to help meet new business requirements. This article focuses on this evaluation or "Roadmap" process — and the steps to take as you prepare to implement all the necessary elements of an Enterprise Services Architecture.

The Origins of Your ESA Strategy

In order to reap the benefits of ESA, companies must consider the interdependency of systems, processes, organization, and culture. As each company differs in size, industry segment, and business requirements, the paths to ESA are likewise different. Each customer adopts an individual path depending on their business needs, existing IT landscape, relevance of the targeted business process, and goals of the company.

Creating an ESA architecture can be done in small steps, and in a way that suits your particular business, technology, and solutions (see Figure 2). But no matter what your needs or industry, every enterprise needs to evaluate some common key points before installing all the elements of ESA:

  • Operational: Understand and inventory your current technology, systems, applications, processes, asnd personnel. Then identify all the contingencies needed to Web service-enable a business process and arrive at the resulting composite applications.

  • Strategic: Identify specific processes that would benefit most from being Web-service-enabled. A risk analysis might be undertaken to determine the impact of Web-service-enabling a particular process and its impact on the organization.

  • Technical: SAP NetWeaver provides SAP Web Application Server, a Java- and ABAP-based application platform to develop and run Web services. This platform features both openness and expandability with multiple technologies supported, including Microsoft .NET and IBM WebSphere, and incorporates interfaces to third-party systems.

Figure 2
Many Roads to ESA

To address each of these perspectives, SAP customers can access a number of resources:

SAP Consulting: SAP Consulting can prepare an overall architecture blueprint, which, as new technologies emerge, provides high-quality mapping of business and IT strategies to the Enterprise Services Architecture.

ESA Adoption Program: SAP has developed the Enterprise Services Architecture Adoption Program, a formalized yet flexible methodology that simplifies the journey toward a services-oriented architecture by turning it into a series of relatively easy, logical steps. The program offers SAP customers a pragmatic path to implementing Enterprise Services Architectures, providing all the information, services, tools, and expertise that organizations need to craft a Roadmap to ESA adoption. Guided by key business objectives, each customer first adopts core functionality of SAP NetWeaver, like SAP Web Application Server, SAP NetWeaver Exchange Infrastructure, and SAP NetWeaver Portal, in incremental phases. Organizations can then implement the Roadmap in stages, addressing their immediate business needs within a sustainable cost structure, since the platform's components are tightly integrated.

SAP Service Select packages: SAP Service Select is a portfolio of packaged consulting services with a bounded timeframe and cost. For those customers who need to implement SAP NetWeaver before they can proceed with the rest of their ESA Roadmap, Service Select packages help speed up the process with packages specifically for SAP NetWeaver components.

An Overview of the SAP ESA Adoption Program

The ESA Adoption Program breaks down the ESA adoption process into a series of logical steps: discovery, evaluation, implementation, and operations (see Figure 3). Each step is supported by a compact portfolio of field-tested "enablers" — support services that include tools, templates, samples, services, and workshops. The program's flexibility allows customers to select one or two enablers on an as-needed basis. This article focuses on building your Roadmap (phase 2). However, the entire program covers four phases to help customers determine where ESA holds value for their particular organization and how to put it into action:

  • Phase 1: Discovery — Participants including IT and business process owners gather to explore the valueand cost of various implementation alternatives. Tools used in this process include "opportunity workshops" — interactive sessions used to identify how Enterprise Services Architecture might enhance a customer's business processes. An organization's ITand business leaders work togetherto brainstorm the ways and areas in which a services-oriented architecture could foster innovation and lower costs.

  • Phase 2: Roadmap or Evaluation — In this phase, SAP works with customers to design a customer-specific Roadmap (in the next section).

  • Phase 3: Implementation — This phase is designed to help customers put ESA to work. SAP offers support services to aid with the planning, building, and running of an Enterprise Services Architecture. SAP can ensure a speedy, secure implementation while minimizing risks and costs. SAP NetWeaver, of course, is the underlying technical platform.

  • Phase 4: Operations — SAP provides a number of enablers to help customers govern their applications and maintain a consistent strategy over time. There is a close focus on return on investment (ROI) during this stage, with SAP providing tools that help measureand quantify results derived from Enterprise Services Architecture.

Figure 3
Building a Roadmap Is Phase 2 of the ESA Adoption Program

An In-Depth Look at the Roadmap Phase

Just as you would never start building a house without a detailed set of architectural plans, you'd be hard-pressed to support the ESA adoption process in your company without a specific Roadmap to guide you. The second phase of the ESA Adoption Program is dedicated to creating a Roadmap tailored to your company's business processes.

Note!
In the ESA model, a services-oriented architecture relies on SAP NetWeaver to provide the platform and tools necessary to implement ESA. For those SAP customers who have not yet implemented SAP NetWeaver, you'd start with SAP's NetWeaver Roadmap services, then move at a later time to the ESA Roadmap and Implementation processes.

Within phase 2 of the Adoption Program, the ESA Roadmap Workshop service consists of a procedural model that describes the execution of an ESA Roadmap Workshop in detail. This also includes accelerators like content, tools, and templates to support the execution at the customer site, laying the foundation for that service. The ESA Roadmap Workshop is executed based on the five-step ESA Roadmap Workshop Procedural Model and provides a set of deliverables (see Figure 4) that contribute to the Implementation phase.

Figure 4
Deliverables Through the Five Steps of the Roadmap/Evaluation Process (Phase 2)
click here to view a larger version of this image

Step 1: Inventory Your Current Strategies and Applications
The first thing a company must do is mesh its own business and IT strategies with the ESA concept. In doing so, an organization learns about the underlying layers of business solutions and technology, and can take advantage of those layers in an Enterprise Services Architecture.

Step 2: Identify the Potential Web Services
A team from the company works with SAP consultants to analyze — quite closely — the firm's business processes and IT landscape. This analysis ranges from the organizational model, to the specific IT systems, to the structure of the business processes. In step 2, by identifying enterprise service candidates, SAP Consulting provides comprehensive lists to categorize and validate services holistically on the layers of business model, solution, and technology.

Step 3: Select the First Enterprise Services to Activate
Here, the focus is on determining the value of activating and leveraging specific enterprise services. In this step, company and senior consultants help select the best initial candidates for enterprise services derived from step 2. These choices are based on an informed analysis of the potential value each such service may yield, taking into account all relevant factors. SAP consultants work closely with SAP technology developers, so they know firsthand what will be delivered and what software concepts are most in demand.

Step 4: Detail the Integration Contingencies
At this point, the company is able to see the first outlines of the overall Enterprise Services Architecture, showing in some detail the people, processes, and information integration that are involved (see Figure 5). The company will have a concrete plan in hand for moving forward, including information showing the optimal sequence of enterprise services to be created one after the other. For the planning in step 4, because of SAP's development and unique holistic view on Enterprise Services Architecture, SAP consultants know about the dependencies within and between the three layers of business model, solution, and technology.

Figure 5
Example of Integration Plan Resulting from the ESA Adoption Program

Step 5: First Rollout Strategy Complete
At this point, the first version of the Roadmap is ready. Based upon the analysis undertaken by the company with guidance from the consulting team, the Roadmap navigates through and around all important constraints and logical dependencies. It details the preparation work that may need to be done before certain enterprise services can be created, implemented, and brought into production. And the Roadmap puts all of this together in a single, well-structured document that can serve as a central point of reference for the company (see Figure 6).

Figure 6
Example of the Final Roadmap Resulting from the ESA Adoption Program
click here to view a larger version of this image

SAP Service Select — Building a Foundation for ESA

ESA relies on SAP NetWeaver to provide the platform and tools necessary to implement an enterprise-scale services-oriented architecture. For those SAP customers who have not yet implemented the components of SAP NetWeaver, SAP Service Select includes a set of packaged services, including some focused upon SAP NetWeaver, for accelerated implementation of the pieces that support an Enterprise Services Architecture:

  • SAP NetWeaver Service Select for SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence — Uses predefined business content and a rapid implementation process to reduce risk and accelerate the benefits you receive from your SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence implementation

  • SAP NetWeaver Service Select for SAP NetWeaver Master Data Management — Accelerates the implementation of SAP NetWeaver Master Data Management and delivers abusiness case for ongoing value management

  • SAP NetWeaver Service Select for SAP NetWeaver Exchange Infrastructure — Offers a risk-free technique for launching application-to-application integration projects that yield fast results

  • SAP NetWeaver Service Select for SAP NetWeaver Portal — Offers prepackaged content on a secure, scalable infrastructure as a low-cost, low-risk way to initiate a portal project and achieve a quick return on your investment

For more on other SAP Service Select offerings, see the sidebar below.

Set the Pace for Your ESA Adoption

Whether you are taking a fast-track approach to ESA, or are planning to move one step at a time, the combination of SAP NetWeaver and the ESA Adoption Program allows you to implement an ESA Roadmap at the pace you set. Companies can address their immediate business needs in stages and within a sustainable cost structure, since the platform's components are tightly integrated. Through successful execution of the Adoption Program, customers will benefit from a pragmatic path toward an Enterprise Services Architecture.

For more information on the ESA Adoption Program, and for additional information on how Enterprise Services Architecture can help your business increase in flexibility, visit www.sdn.sap.com and head to the ESA Developer Area. Additional information on SAP Service Select is available at www.sap.com/usa/serviceselect. For more information on SAP NetWeaver, please visit www.sap.com/netweaver.

A Sampling of SAP Service Select Offerings

The SAP Service Select portfolio of packaged services allows you to achieve rapid results, reduce risk, start with a realistic and defined scope, stay on schedule and budget, effectively respond to business dynamics, and innovate now, investing in new growth as needed. With SAP Service Select, you count on proven solutions, predictable results, and personal commitment from the SAP Services team.

SAP Service Select Workshops and Assessments Business Benefit
SAP Service Select for upgrades Delivers expert advice, assistance, and a proven methodology to help you plan and execute your SAP system upgrade
SAP Service Select for SAP RFID Allows you to jump-start your RFID initiative, accelerate your RFID implementation, and develop a comprehensive project plan
SAP Service Select Accelerated Implementations Business Benefit
These offerings include the SAP Service Select packages for SAP NetWeaver discussed in this article, as well as:
SAP Service Select for sales force automation Enables your company to rapidly take advantage of the sales force automation (SFA) capabilities of mySAP Customer Relationship Management (mySAP CRM)
SAP Service Select for SAP E-Selling Helps you quickly implement an Internet-based sales solution in mySAP CRM
SAP Service Select for Business Planning and Simulation Offers an accelerated implementation approach that lowers the overall cost and risk of delivering a planning system
SAP Service Select for SAP Demand Planning Offers an accelerated approach to implementing SAP Demand Planning based on best practices; the scope of this package covers the entire demand-planning process
SAP Service Select for mySAP ERP Provides a focused implementation approach for mySAP ERP with built-in content, tools, and methodologies that ensure cost-effective, turnkey deployments for mid-market companies (also available with industry-specific content)


Ravi R. Swaminath has 15 years of experience in IT and has worked at SAP since 1996 as a technical consultant and technical manager. At present, he is a practice manager in the SAP Consulting National Competency Center, responsible for delivering ESA Roadmaps. He has a B.S. degree in Computer Science and an M.S. degree in Systems Management.

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