Today’s technology trends — cloud computing, in-memory technology, and mobile solutions — require comprehensive platform capabilities that go beyond a database or mobile infrastructure. Not only does a technology platform need to support what you’re doing now, it needs to be agile enough to serve as a bridge between existing on-premise infrastructures and upcoming on-demand environments.
The SAP NetWeaver technology platform enables SAP customers, partners, and the wider technology community to take advantage of the innovation opportunities offered by these technology trends. It provides a simplified development approach that can support mobile consumption, and a deployment model that reduces operational costs and brings innovation into existing landscapes without disrupting business processes. To fully understand the SAP NetWeaver roadmap for supporting these endeavors, you should first be familiar with what it already provides.
SAP NetWeaver: The Engine That Drives Your Solution Landscape
SAP NetWeaver is the foundation and integration platform for all SAP solutions. It runs productively in more than 70,000 customer installations, and serves as a development and runtime environment for ABAP and Java. In addition to supplying the ABAP and Java application server stacks, SAP NetWeaver includes a variety of tools for composing and managing your environment. For example, it provides SAP NetWeaver Portal for connecting people and increasing productivity, along with SAP NetWeaver Identity Management and SAP NetWeaver Single Sign-On for managing user access across solution landscapes while preserving transparency, governance, and compliance throughout business processes. It comes with lifecycle management tools and infrastructures for managing software updates and changes, including software logistics tools that are decoupled from the underlying stack, enabling you to implement innovations, such as security enhancements, without updating the complete stack. SAP NetWeaver also provides information management capabilities for SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse (SAP NetWeaver BW), and SAP NetWeaver Process Orchestration for improving business process efficiency, integration, and flexibility (see Figure 1).
Version 7.31 of SAP NetWeaver added a range of enhancements to help customers improve their system architectures and take advantage of new technologies. It includes a platform update with a focus on process modeling and integration, enabling customers to run SAP NetWeaver Business Process Management and SAP NetWeaver Process Integration as a single stack deployment to reduce TCO and simplify landscape design.
The 7.31 release also includes the full implementation of the ABAP in Eclipse development environment, which provides native Eclipse editor support for most ABAP artifacts, such as classes, programs, and function modules. For those not yet natively supported, it includes an SAP GUI session within the Eclipse context, eliminating the need to work with different environments in parallel. For custom development, it also supports the use of SAPUI5 (SAP’s adaptation of the HTML5 standard) and Web Dynpro, which are the dominant user interface (UI) technologies used by SAP Business Suite.
Note: Some of the innovations available for the SAP NetWeaver 7.31 platform are applied as add-ons or separate products that can be used on an as-needed basis. Some innovations are delivered in a controlled fashion via the support package channel.
SAP NetWeaver 7.31 also laid the groundwork for moving SAP technology into the cloud, providing virtualization innovations in lifecycle management and system operations, as well as integrating in-memory capabilities into SAP solutions. SAP NetWeaver Landscape Virtualization Management, for example, uses virtualization and cloud technologies, serving as a central console for capacity management and load balancing with transparent access to hardware and system resources. Additionally, SAP Cloud Appliance Library enables customers to run preconfigured SAP Business Suite content as software appliances in the Amazon cloud. Release 7.30 already included the enablement of SAP HANA-based SAP NetWeaver BW deployments to boost query performance, lower TCO, and simplify modeling.
SAP NetWeaver 7.4: Native, On-Premise Support for SAP HANA
This sampling of the new features available with SAP NetWeaver demonstrates that many innovations can already be consumed on the existing 7.31 platform. The SAP NetWeaver 7.4 release, which is planned for the first half of 2013, builds on this foundation with additional optimized access to SAP HANA. SAP HANA offers real-time processing that can greatly accelerate business processes, improve analytics, and simplify system landscapes. Its success with customers and partners has made it clear that all existing SAP solutions can benefit from SAP HANA’s speed and power.
SAP NetWeaver 7.30 enabled the ABAP stack to provide basic, native access to the SAP HANA database for SAP NetWeaver BW. With the release of SAP NetWeaver 7.4, SAP delivers a new SAP NetWeaver enhancement package that optimizes programmatic access to native SAP HANA artifacts, such as SAP HANA analytical views and database procedures written in SQLScript, enabling customers to implement SAP HANA functionality natively in their ABAP-based SAP solutions. The enhancement package approach to enabling access to SAP HANA functionality is similar to the approach that SAP has followed with updates to SAP Business Suite — it allows existing customer ABAP code to run without change, enabling customers and partners to decide which programs to optimize for SAP HANA in a step-by-step fashion.
Using these native SAP HANA artifacts speeds existing programs and enables the development of new programs that leverage SAP HANA. To help customers take advantage of these benefits, SAP provides guidelines and best practices on the SAP Community Network (http://scn.sap.com/community/abap and http://scn.sap.com/community/netweaver) for making necessary modifications to existing programs and for creating new programs that implement SAP HANA.
For instance, SAP HANA will optimize many queries by default, but developers must partly revise the traditional program pattern used to load data from database tables into internal ABAP tables and process them on the application server to push code to the database level. In addition, in the past, all SAP logic was expressed on the ABAP level. With modern HTML5-based browsers and mobile devices, parts of the UI logic move to the front-end layer while some of the data-driven logic moves to the SAP HANA database layer.1
SAP doesn’t intend to limit the benefits of native, on-premise support for SAP HANA to the ABAP side. We’re also analyzing the use cases of Java-based SAP NetWeaver hubs, such as SAP NetWeaver Application Server Java and SAP NetWeaver Portal, running directly on SAP HANA. SAP is working with user groups to evaluate the need for this support and add it to the SAP NetWeaver and SAP Business Suite roadmaps.
Next we’ll look at how SAP NetWeaver and SAP HANA can expand the reach of your applications with the cloud.
A Bridge Between On-Premise and On-Demand with SAP HANA Cloud
To support the advent of cloud technologies, and to keep pace with customers’ need for fast, lightweight mobile applications, SAP provides a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offering for Java development — SAP HANA Cloud (previously called SAP NetWeaver Cloud) — that fully embraces standards and open source technology for fast, simplified application development and deployment. Released for productive use at SAP TechEd 2012, SAP HANA Cloud offers an on-demand development and runtime platform for Java to enable customers to build, deploy, and manage innovative cloud applications. The platform is managed by SAP and provides developers with Eclipse-based tools and full access to predefined services such as database persistence based on SAP HANA and classical SAP databases and identity management.
To use SAP HANA Cloud, a developer simply installs a local Eclipse release, such as Juno, and refers to SAP’s update site (https://tools.netweaver.ondemand.com), which provisions the on-demand tool plug-ins. The tools include a lean Java server based on open source components that can be used for local testing. Once the newly developed application is ready, the developer can deploy and run it in SAP HANA Cloud, where a corresponding virtual machine instance is created to execute the application.
SAP HANA Cloud is self-contained, and enables you to remain in the cloud when developing and executing your applications. However, bridging the on-premise and on-demand worlds is critical in cloud-based SAP scenarios to allow access to data in back-end systems. SAP NetWeaver enables seamless access to back-end systems from SAP HANA Cloud via Eclipse-based development tools for integrating SAP NetWeaver Gateway runtime components into both the SAP NetWeaver 7.4 on-premise stack, as well as the SAP NetWeaver Gateway service on the cloud (see Figure 2).
There are many cases in which you may want to connect to existing on-premise landscapes from the cloud. For instance, while SAP NetWeaver 7.4 runs on the database of your choice, SAP HANA Cloud offers persistence services, such as schema access to SAP HANA (additional planned services include mobile infrastructure-as-a-service, integration-as-a-service, and gateway-connectivity-as-a-service). These persistence services are available both for SAP HANA and classical on-premise relational databases from SAP. The cloud environment makes it possible for on-premise SAP solutions and cloud consumers to access services as they are made available, without needing to wait for the next release as they would with an exclusively on-premise landscape.
SAP HANA Cloud does not require a complex development and runtime environment; it helps with faster adoption of innovation since cloud communities can share new technologies much faster compared to on-premise landscapes. The cloud also offers new ways to facilitate collaboration that are not present in on-premise environments. This is enabled by the SAP HANA Cloud integration infrastructure, which mediates between on-premise and on-demand solutions from SAP and external providers based on integration standards. This means it can connect the Employee Central offering from SuccessFactors with SAP ERP Human Capital Management or provide standard banking services to existing SAP customers via SAP HANA Cloud integration, for instance. It is easy to see the power and flexibility of SAP HANA Cloud.
SAP is dedicated to keeping pace with the needs of its customers to reduce the costs of development and operation and to bring innovation into existing landscapes without disrupting business processes. To that end, SAP has invested significantly in the cloud market, in in-memory technology, and in innovative mobile apps.
SAP NetWeaver 7.4 and SAP HANA Cloud form an application infrastructure and technology platform that provides powerful support for these investments. It enables customers to optimize applications for SAP HANA and, using tools based on the Eclipse development environment, easily build lightweight applications that not only run on the cloud, but integrate with SAP Business Suite back-end systems, bringing innovation across your landscape to your mobile users’ fingertips.
Karl Kessler (email@example.com) joined SAP AG in 1992. He is the Product Manager of the SAP NetWeaver foundation — which includes SAP NetWeaver Application Server, Web Dynpro, the ABAP Workbench, and SAP NetWeaver Developer Studio — and is responsible for all rollout activities. Currently, Karl’s work centers on how SAP NetWeaver powers SAP ERP and SAP Business Suite software, with a focus on lifecycle management.
1 Regardless of the extent to which the separation between UI logic and data-driven logic is carried out, the application layer of SAP Business Suite remains in the ABAP layer. [back]