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How mySAP ERP 2005 Supplies Core Ingredients of Consolidation and Innovation: SAP NetWeaver 2004s, Enterprise SOA and xApps

by Dr. Franz-Josef Fritz | SAPinsider

October 1, 2006

by Dr. Franz-Josef Fritz, SAP AG SAPinsider - 2006 (Volume 7), October (Issue 4)
 

Every organization faces its own distinct set of barriers to innovation. But almost every enterprise tells us that the costs of maintaining vast networks of legacy technology, systems, and processes are cutting into resources that would otherwise support the innovation for competitive advantage and higher productivity.

For this very reason, companies are carefully examining their landscapes and asking: How can we make the most of available functionality to enhance user productivity? Where can we consolidate systems and processes? Where can we simplify our architecture? How can we get better views of the information we already have? How can Web services, service-oriented architectures, and open platforms help free us up for innovation? With all the shifts in technology, methodology, and tools, where should we start?

For companies considering these issues, SAP has a number of good reasons why you should plan for an upgrade to mySAP ERP 2005 in the very near future. SAP's enterprise software leverages the power of SAP NetWeaver 2004s for better user productivity, enterprise information management and analytics, process integration, and landscape consolidation.

At the same time, mySAP ERP supports the next set of technologies for innovation: Enterprise SOA and xApps. With mySAP ERP 2005, you can:

  • Establish the basis for process innovation and flexibility by upgrading to a rich, services-enabled business backbone1

  • Accelerate innovation by leveraging additional SAP offerings on top of mySAP ERP

Here we'll focus on the new benefits of the integration of mySAP ERP and SAP NetWeaver. We'll also look ahead briefly to the services-based capabilities of mySAP ERP 2005.

Roles in mySAP ERP 2005

The long list of roles provided in mySAP ERP 2005 includes:

  • HR Administrator

  • Business Unit Analyst

  • Internal Sales Representative

  • Buyer

  • Invoicing Clerk

  • Production Supervisor

  • Maintenance Technician

  • Plant Manager

  • Development Collaboration

  • Quality Inspector

Four Areas Where mySAP ERP 2005 Leverages SAP NetWeaver

mySAP ERP 2005 provides new and immediate business benefits by leveraging SAP NetWeaver in four main areas:

  • User productivity, with role-based access and innovative forms technology

  • Leverage of enterprise information through new applications and techniques in the business intelligence and analytics space

  • Business process integration advancements and consolidation opportunities

  • System landscape consolidation by integrating industry solutions into a joint shipment and maintenance cycle

User Productivity: Roles and Forms

Role-based access to mySAP ERP applications via SAP NetWeaver's portal capabilities makes end users much more productive. They can find their applications in one place, grouped according to their role in the company (see the next page for some of the roles mySAP ERP supports).

Role-based access is mainly provided by work centers, which bundle applications based on specific roles, eliminating the complex navigation between systems and applications (see Figure 1). Work centers make it easier to learn and understand the applications end users need. In addition, control centers offer more generic functions and link to all work centers relevant to each role.

Figure 1
Role-based access through a work center

This role-based approach actively pushes applicable information out to users. Work centers concisely summarize the most relevant information for users. When users choose a process from the work center, they get a guided, step-by-step roadmap of process information, some context information to help them determine how to proceed, and intuitive buttons that make it easy to carry out a process. In Figure 2, this functionality is provided through guided procedures.2

Figure 2
Roadmaps and guided procedures provide context-oriented navigation within mySAP ERP 2005

Along with these new role-based interfaces comes the direct integration of Interactive Forms by Adobe into mySAP ERP roles and applications. mySAP ERP 2005 comes with around 1,000 print forms and supports more than 100 interactive forms across many different roles and business scenarios. Figure 3 is an example of an interface based on Adobe Interactive Forms technology incorporated into SAP Manager Self-Service.

Figure 3
Adobe Interactive Forms technology integrated into mySAP ERP 2005

Adobe Interactive Forms technology simplifies implementation and administration by encouraging reuse of the forms themselves. It also leverages technology that, for many companies, is already prevalent throughout the organization. Other user productivity benefits of Adobe Interactive Forms include:

  • Tools and form layout familiar to both designers and end users

  • Ability to treat forms as documents so users can easily save them, distribute them via email, and so on

Interactive Forms not only give mySAP ERP users a market-leading forms technology, they also support integration of real-time data into the forms. The data integration fills in various parts of the form automatically, and enables prefilled values and help through the use of dropdown list boxes and other controls.

Leverage Enterprise Information: Analytics, BI, and the BI Accelerator

Greater user productivity is also fueled by the integration of analytics in all user roles. Using a new model-based design environment (SAP NetWeaver Visual Composer3), SAP has created and delivered more than 100 predefined composite analytic applications including innovative and high-value analytic applications, such as product design cost estimate, express planning, and compliance management (see Figure 4).

Figure 4
A compliance management composite analytic application, designed using Visual Composer, that helps users analyze internal controls

In addition, mySAP ERP 2005 comes with a very strong new Business Intelligence (BI) release as part of SAP NetWeaver 2004s technology.4 Some highlights of the new BI version are:

  • The BI accelerator, a preconfigured and easy-to-add appliance (a bundle of hardware and software) that reduces query response time by factors of 10 and more

  • A fully competitive front end with great enhancements in Excel and Web reporting

  • An integrated planning environment and information broadcasting

  • Formatted reporting capabilities

Business Process Integration and Consolidation

Process integration — that is, integration between and beyond SAP systems, based on SAP NetWeaver Exchange Infrastructure (XI) — has enjoyed many improvements and enhancements since the release of SAP NetWeaver 2004.

But more importantly, mySAP ERP 2005 has embraced process integration and now uses XI instead of SAP Business Connector for most integration scenarios. In fact, mySAP ERP 2005 is no longer dependent on SAP Business Connector in any way. Customers can now consolidate process integration on just one kind of technology, eliminating the need for additional interfaces and components and achieving simpler and more consistent end-to-end administration of integration processes.

System Landscape Consolidation with the Switch Framework

Further investment has been made in SAP NetWeaver 2004s and mySAP ERP 2005 to harmonize and consolidate the various industry extensions SAP offers, make implementation easier and more flexible, and synchronize the release cycles of these industry extensions. Industry solutions shipped in mySAP ERP 2005 are now delivered:

  • In the cross-industry application's core

  • As mySAP ERP Industry and Enterprise Extensions to be activated via the Switch Framework;5 this applies to most industry solutions that were formerly provided via add-ons or extension sets (no more modifications to the core!)

  • As add-ons; only a few remaining industry-specific applications are shipped separately and carry their own release

The Switch Framework allows your IT team to maintain the software of different industry solutions in one SAP system landscape. The benefits to administrators are:

  • Reduced TCO because of fewer maintenance systems

  • Synchronization of release cycles and planning for cross-industry and industry- specific functionality — industry solutions are available when the core functionality is delivered

  • Easy sharing of business functions between industries

  • Faster and easier deployment of support packages — conflict resolution transports are no longer needed

  • Timely provision of legal requirements

Looking Ahead to Process Innovation and Services with mySAP ERP

mySAP ERP is also a stepping stone toward the wider adoption of a services-based approach for SAP customers. This means supporting access to predefined services that can be reused to build business processes, as well as enterprise services, xApps, and composite application designtime and runtime tools.

SAP customers will see Enterprise SOA at work in mySAP Business Suite, particularly in mySAP ERP 2005, in three important ways:

  • mySAP Business Suite service provisioning, with benefits such as the flexible addition of new user interfaces, the composition of new processes, or the creation of new composite applications on top of mySAP Business Suite in a nonintrusive way.

  • Additional composite applications — and tools for building these applications — provided by the Enterprise SOA appliance (see sidebar). Composite applications offer new opportunities to SAP partners and customers for "going the last mile" to truly differentiate themselves from the competition.

  • The xApps Hub, for accessing the more than 200 services-based composite applications (SAP xApps), provided by SAP today, plus many more xApps from SAP partners (see sidebar).

How mySAP ERP Supports the Enterprise SOA Roadmap

In addition to the Enterprise SOA-enabled mySAP ERP and mySAP Business Suite, two new service-oriented offerings will be made available in the near future:

Enterprise SOA Appliance

One key ingredient for building and running composite processes and xApps will be the Enterprise SOA appliance (working title). Similar to the recently released BI accelerator, the Enterprise SOA appliance will be a separately delivered and managed box that sits right next to your Business Suite so you can keep the Business Suite on a more stable track, with infrequent and carefully managed upgrades. At the same time, you can manage fast and ongoing innovation cycles with little effort and at a very affordable cost. You can deploy xApps from SAP and partners and build and configure custom xApps, all against a stable and reliable business backbone.

The Enterprise SOA appliance will also be a vehicle to deliver new and innovative tools and techniques for rapidly modeling and developing xApps. In fact, modeling will be more and more the essence of development, and writing code in a programming language will decrease accordingly.

xApps Hub

The xApps Hub will be an online marketplace for xApps delivered by SAP, and it will also be opened up to SAP partners. From this hub, customers can pinpoint the appropriate xApps for any given business purpose, retrieve them from the xApps Hub, and deploy and configure them on the Enterprise SOA appliance. SAP will announce more details in the near future.

Conclusion

mySAP ERP 2005 leverages SAP NetWeaver 2004s for some immediate benefits: a focus on user roles for better productivity, greater insights into BI and other enterprise information, and big opportunities for landscape consolidation and improved process integration across systems. It also provides the entry point to a services-based landscape and a more flexible approach to implementing and continuously enhancing business processes.

For customers wondering how to take the next step toward broader use of services across the business, upgrading to mySAP ERP 2005 is a key step in getting your most critical business solutions ready to integrate service-enabled applications.

For more on the benefits of mySAP ERP 2005, SAP NetWeaver 2004s, Enterprise SOA, and xApps, please see "Additional Resources."

 

Additional Resources

mySAP ERP 2005
http://service.sap.com/erp
http://service.sap.com/erp-upgrade

SAP NetWeaver 2004s
http://service.sap.com/netweaver

Enterprise SOA
http://service.sap.com/ESA
www.sdn.sap.com

xApps
ES Workplace:
https://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/sdn/developerareas/esa/esapreview
xApp Development:
https://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/sdn/developerareas/xapps


1 For more on the benefits of adopting a service-oriented architecture in your landscape, see "Getting Started with Enterprise Services Architecture" by Ravi Swaminath in the October-December 2005 issue of SAP Insider (www.SAPinsider.com).

2 For more on guided procedures, see Karl Kessler's Under Development column in this issue of SAP Insider (www.SAPinsider.com).

3 For more on Visual Composer, see "Visual Composer or BEx? Pick the Right Tool for the Right Application" by Scott Cairncross, Prakash Darji, and Derek Johnson in the July-September 2006 issue of SAP Insider (www.SAPinsider.com).

4 For more information on new BI and analytics features as of mySAP ERP 2005, please see the July-September 2006 issue of SAP Insider (www.SAPinsider.com).

5 For more on the Switch Framework, please see "A New and Improved Approach to SAP Industry Solutions" by Karl Kessler in the July-September 2005 issue of SAP Insider (www.SAPinsider.com).


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