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Take Your SAP Solutions to New Heights with the Latest Release of SAP NetWeaver 7.4

How SPS 05 Lifts Your Landscape with Innovation

by Karl Kessler | SAPinsider, Volume 15, Issue 2

April 1, 2014

Support package stack (SPS) 05 for SAP NetWeaver 7.4 is much more than a collection of bug fixes. It is a milestone in the SAP technology journey that takes full advantage of innovations such as SAP HANA, for which SAP NetWeaver 7.4 is fully optimized. This article provides an overview of the major features SPS 05 for SAP NetWeaver 7.4 and demonstrates the value this latest release is designed to deliver to SAP customer landscapes.

 

In December 2013, SAP delivered support package stack (SPS) 05 for SAP NetWeaver 7.4 to customers. Generally, a support package contains a collection of bug fixes. SPS 05, however, is much more than that — it is a milestone in the SAP technology journey.

SPS 05 delivers new features for SAP NetWeaver that take advantage of innovations such as SAP HANA, for which SAP NetWeaver 7.4 is fully optimized,1 including simplified data modeling and integrated data access for SAP NetWeaver BW, mobile and HTML5 support for SAP NetWeaver Portal, and new devel­opment tools for SAP NetWeaver ABAP.

In addition to these enhancements, SPS 05 includes another major step forward, namely enabling for the first time full support of all SAP NetWeaver usage types and corresponding SAP Business Suite content, without any limitation, and opening up the deployment of SAP NetWeaver 7.4-based hubs for all major SAP Business Suite versions.

This article provides an overview of the major features SPS 05 for SAP NetWeaver 7.4 delivers for SAP NetWeaver BW, SAP NetWeaver Portal, and SAP NetWeaver ABAP — the usage types with the most significant enhancements — to show you the value this latest release is designed to deliver for your own SAP implementation.2

Why Upgrade Now?

There are many compelling reasons to upgrade to the latest version of SAP NetWeaver 7.4 sooner rather than later. In addition to the benefits provided by the new and enhanced features included in SPS 05, and its optimization for SAP HANA, 7.0-based SAP NetWeaver hubs will run out of maintenance in 2017, because SAP NetWeaver 7.0 is based on Java Development Kit (JDK) 1.4, which is very old and only supported by SAP’s Java virtual machine (JVM). Partner JDKs are no longer available.

There are no technical limitations to upgrading your existing SAP NetWeaver landscapes to 7.4. SAP Business Suite content for SAP NetWeaver 7.4 hubs is fully available for the newest SAP Business Suite release (i2013, delivered in August 2013) as well as the existing core releases (7, i2010, and i2011).

From a lifecycle management perspective, SPS 05 is a service release to which customers can immediately upgrade instead of applying support packages individually (the generally available version delivered in May 2013 was based on SPS 02). The service release approach also accelerates and simplifies new install deployments of SAP NetWeaver 7.4.

Innovations for SAP NetWeaver BW and SAP NetWeaver Portal

SAP NetWeaver BW on SAP NetWeaver 7.4 SPS 05 combines the power of SAP HANA with the robustness of an integrated enterprise data warehouse solution.

SAP NetWeaver BW is a widely adopted usage type, with more than 12,000 productive customers. SAP invested an enormous amount of development effort into supporting the hub usage of SAP NetWeaver BW, and based on customer feedback, many will adopt the 7.4 release of SAP NetWeaver because of its inherent BI capabilities. SAP NetWeaver Portal has also become an integral usage type for customers. With the advent of mobile devices and increasingly sophisticated user experiences, demand continues to grow for ways to translate these trends into SAP solution functionality that can help customers capitalize on new opportunities.

To meet customer needs, SPS 05 includes enhancements for these two integral usage types, including SAP NetWeaver BW data modeling and processing capabilities powered by SAP HANA, as well as new SAP NetWeaver Portal features for mobile enablement, including the ability to integrate dynamic UI content based on HTML5.

SAP NetWeaver BW

SAP NetWeaver BW on SAP NetWeaver 7.4 SPS 05 combines the power of SAP HANA with the robustness of an integrated enterprise data warehouse (EDW) solution. The key benefits of this approach are:

  • Dramatic simplification of data modeling processes in a common Eclipse-based modeling environment
  • Significantly increased agility of the classical warehouse solution, meaning that InfoProviders can be freely combined
  • Reduced complexity of the EDW landscape due to reduction of primary persistence layers such as a traditional OLTP database
  • Faster processing of large amounts of data
  • Reuse of SAP NetWeaver BW services for data management and analysis, so that BW consumer tools can be used in a non-disruptive fashion
  • Seamless consumption of data

Figure 1 shows the underlying architecture of SAP NetWeaver BW 7.4 with SPS 05. Enhanced data modeling is facilitated by integrated Eclipse-based modeling tools.3 The logical EDW is represented by a smart data access layer that enables unified access to all data providers. External models, such as external tables or views, can easily be integrated with the open operational data store layer so that, for example, composite providers can be defined easily. Former layers, such as BW transformations, analysis, and planning processes, have been pushed down to the SAP HANA layer. This results in converged planning solutions and SAP NetWeaver BW content that is particularly optimized for SAP HANA, allowing you to build new types of agile data marts intended for line-of-business use cases.

With SPS 05, SAP NetWeaver BW 7.4 combines the power of SAP HANA with robust enterprise data warehouse capabilities

Figure 1 — With SPS 05, SAP NetWeaver BW 7.4 combines the power of SAP HANA with robust enterprise data warehouse capabilities

SAP NetWeaver Portal

While SAP NetWeaver Portal was enabled for SAP HANA with SPS 03, which was released in July 2013, SPS 05 includes several additional new features for portals, particularly in the areas of mobile consumption and the integration of HTML5-based content:

  • With SPS 03, traditional portal content, business applications, and analytics can be easily aggregated via the web page composer.
  • Portal content is now available for smartphones and tablets, empowering mobile users to access their roles on their preferred device.
  • SAP Fiori apps come integrated into the portal pages out of the box, showcasing the tight integration of SAP’s adaptation of HTML5 (known as SAPUI5) and SAP NetWeaver Gateway technologies to enable access to back-end systems.
  • The long-awaited browser-based tool Theme Designer helps customers implement their own branding in a consistent fashion by maintaining elements such as colors and fonts specified in cascaded style sheets.

A trial version of SAP NetWeaver Portal is available through SAP Cloud Appliance Library, a tool that runs on SAP Cloud and enables customers to test drive SAP solutions in the cloud. Using SAP Cloud Appliance Library, customers and partners can use their existing SAP NetWeaver licenses to run SAP NetWeaver Portal in the Amazon Web Services infrastructure.4

Innovations for SAP NetWeaver ABAP

Since SAP NetWeaver 7.4 became generally available in May 2013, the underlying ABAP application server stack has been heavily optimized to provide access to native SAP HANA artifacts, such as analytical and calculation views, so that ABAP programs can consume these artifacts seamlessly. In addition, transparent optimization for SAP HANA was implemented to support the SAP Business Suite on SAP HANA product — for example, the SELECT FOR ALL ENTRIES statement, which is often used in SAP ERP to fetch full records that have keys present in an ABAP internal table. SPS 05 builds on these SAP NetWeaver ABAP enhancements by delivering new features for a seamless developer experience, including powerful new approaches, abstraction layers, and tools.

ABAP-Managed Database Procedures

SAP NetWeaver 7.4 SPS 05 introduces a new programming approach, known as ABAP-managed database procedures, which are executed on the database layer but defined on the ABAP layer.

Core data services, introduced with SAP NetWeaver 7.4 SPS 05, provide a common data abstraction layer that unifies the different data models present in SAP platforms and solutions and enables the data in those models for use in SAP HANA.

With SAP HANA, database procedures are used to push down data-driven logic to the database layer. Initially, these procedures were created with a bottom-up approach. A developer would define a stored procedure in the SAP HANA studio and later consume it on the ABAP layer via a database proxy, meaning that the developer had to manage and transport the SAP HANA artifact — the analytical or calculation view, for example — together with the corresponding usage in the ABAP context. This approach is an adjustment for ABAP developers, who are accustomed to having full access to their development artifacts without leaving the ABAP layer.

With ABAP-managed database procedures, the procedure is defined on the ABAP layer with a corresponding editor tool in ABAP in Eclipse.5 The underlying SAP HANA artifact is then created, managed, and transported to the consolidation system implicitly. By managing database procedures on the ABAP level, the full control of the development artifacts remains on the ABAP level.

This approach is available for all database platforms. For SAP HANA, database procedures are written in SQL script. It should be clear that these database procedures are targeted toward a specific database to gain the full optimization potential of the underlying database architecture.

Advanced View Building with Core Data Services

Core data services (CDS), introduced with SAP NetWeaver 7.4 SPS 05, provide a common data abstraction layer that unifies the different data models present in SAP platforms and solutions — such as SAP Business Suite based on the ABAP stack, SAP BusinessObjects tools and server-side infrastructures, and the application platform for SAP HANA, as well as new applications on top of that platform — and enables the data in those models for use in SAP HANA.
 
Each supported platform provides an implementation of the CDS concept, similar to the OData protocol, where each stack provides an OData implementation to support SAPUI5 consumption. The advantage of the CDS semantic layer is uniform access across all the supported layers, and access to powerful tools that understand these layers and provide easy consumption and composition capabilities, such as the SAP River development environment, which is a new way of developing native applications on SAP HANA.6 
 
Think of CDS as an infrastructure for defining and consuming semantically rich data models in SAP HANA. These models are expressed in data definition language (DDL), a query language for accessing the data of these models and defining views on top of these models, and an expression language for calculating fields automatically, default and constraint handling, write operations, transaction logic, and so on. Similar to ABAP-managed database procedures, a CDS view can be defined on the ABAP level using the CDS editor in ABAP in Eclipse and then managed and transported implicitly to consolidation. All underlying SAP HANA artifacts are generated automatically on successful completion. Figure 2 provides an overview of how CDS works.

Core data services enable the definition of SAP HANA views in the ABAP layer

Figure 2 — Core data services enable the definition of SAP HANA views in the ABAP layer

Figure 3 shows the source code of a CDS view that is based on the open items analysis example delivered with SAP NetWeaver 7.4.7 The view is defined as a SELECT clause using JOIN operators, built-in functions, aggregate operators (GROUP BY), and procedural logic (CASE statement), and can be accessed as a standard view in ABAP. The CDS editor in ABAP in Eclipse supports view creation with syntax coloring, code completion, and “quick fix” functionality in an incremental fashion. A graphical tool is also available to display the inner workings of the CDS view definition.

Source code for an SAP HANA view built in the ABAP layer using core data services

Figure 3 — Source code for an SAP HANA view built in the ABAP layer using core data services

Open SQL

New concepts such as CDS have made it necessary to rethink the traditional approach to Open SQL in ABAP. Historically, Open SQL has been introduced as a statement in ABAP that is aligned to ABAP syntax and semantics with keywords, additions, variants, and links to the ABAP execution context, such as ABAP fields, structures, and internal tables. In this way, the syntactical and semantic approach for Open SQL corresponds to the ABAP coding style that has evolved over the years.
 
CDS offers a new abstraction layer that requires a more declarative coding style with a syntactical convention that is closer to the actual implementation on the SAP HANA layer. As a consequence, a new SQL parser has been introduced with SPS 05 that uses elements such as comma separated lists, expressions, and the definition of host variables in a more standard fashion that is not only well suited for use in CDS view definitions, but can also be used in traditional procedural ABAP coding.

Code Analysis Tools

Performance improvements are integral to a successful database environment. Static checks and dynamic monitoring of the execution environment are key. SPS 05 delivers an enhanced SQL monitor that provides easy-to-use snapshots of your system performance that enable you to analyze bottlenecks and critical SQL commands that affect the system’s responsiveness. In addition, the new SQL Performance Tuning Worklist tool (transaction SWLT) helps you to find and identify SQL code that has the potential for performance improvement in productive business processes.

ABAP in Eclipse

ABAP in Eclipse is a well-established toolset that has essentially replaced the ABAP Workbench in SAP NetWeaver 7.4. It is a fully featured set of editors as well as a test and debug environment based on the proven Eclipse tooling platform. The ABAP Workbench is still supported, but SAP HANA-related plug-ins are provided only through ABAP in Eclipse.
 
In SPS 05, the ABAP in Eclipse tooling environment has been enhanced in a multitude of ways. You can:

  • Create function modules and includes on the fly while in the source editor with the quick fix functionality of ABAP in Eclipse
  • Generate constructor methods (both class and instance) using a similar pattern
  • Easily create attributes and parameters for ABAP classes, again via the quick fix functionality
  • Create bookmarks in the editors for accelerated navigation
  • Display enhancement implementations in a separate window by hovering over the enhancement point
  • Use watchpoints, which are now supported in the ABAP Eclipse debugger, to specify conditions to be evaluated if a watchpoint variable is accessed
  • Edit internal tables in the ABAP debugger
  • Search the ABAP source repository within seconds, supported by SAP HANA text-searching capabilities, to find snippets, templates, and reusable code, for example, which was not possible in the classical ABAP Workbench
  • Use newly added editors for CDS views and ABAP-managed data procedures, and a new data preview tool, which is similar to the ABAP Workbench data browser (transaction SE16)
Summary

SAP NetWeaver 7.4 SPS 05 is a major milestone in the SAP technology journey. The SAP NetWeaver BW usage type is now fully supported, with a significant move toward simplified data modeling and integrated data access powered by SAP HANA. SAP NetWeaver Portal comes with new capabilities for mobile consumption and integration of SAPUI5 content. The ABAP stack delivers powerful abstractions for ABAP developers with new tools for a seamless developer experience.
 
SAP NetWeaver 7.4 is designed to bring innovation into existing customer landscapes. Take the next steps in your own journey with trial access to SAP NetWeaver 7.4 solutions for training and proof-of-concept activities through SAP Cloud Appliance Library. Learn more at http://scn.sap.com/docs/DOC-47930.

 

1 For more on how SAP NetWeaver 7.4 is optimized for SAP HANA, see my article “How SAP NetWeaver 7.4 on SAP HANA Is Transforming Customer Landscapes — And What It Means for You” in the January-March 2014 issue of SAPinsider. [back]

2 This article does not cover other SAP NetWeaver usage types because the Java codeline and process orchestration functionality — such as SAP NetWeaver Process Integration (SAP NetWeaver PI) and SAP NetWeaver Business Process Management (SAP NetWeaver BPM) — in 7.31 is equivalent to 7.4. If you are running an SAP NetWeaver PI 7.31 system, for example, there is no need to upgrade to 7.4 unless you want to migrate to SAP HANA. [back]

3 For more on the Eclipse-based modeling tools, see my article “End-to-End Development Scenarios from SAP: Bridging the On-Demand and On-Premise Divide with SAP Tools for Eclipse” in the October-December 2013 issue of SAPinsider. [back]

4 This is available for other SAP NetWeaver usage types as well. [back]

5 For an introduction to the ABAP in Eclipse toolset, see my article “Turbocharge Your ABAP Development with Innovation from Eclipse” in the October-December 2012 issue of SAPinsider. [back]

6 The SAP River development environment is available with SAP HANA SPS 07 under an early adoption program (www.sap-river.com). [back]

7 This example is also included in the trial SAP NetWeaver 7.4 landscape hosted in SAP Cloud Appliance Library. [back]

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Karl Kessler, SAP
Karl Kessler

Karl Kessler (karl.kessler@sap.com) joined SAP SE in 1992. He is the Product Manager of the SAP NetWeaver foundation — which includes SAP NetWeaver Application Server, the ABAP Workbench, and the Eclipse-based ABAP development tools for SAP NetWeaver — and is responsible for all rollout activities.



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