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How SAP NetWeaver 7.4 on SAP HANA Is Transforming Customer Landscapes — And What It Means for You

by Karl Kessler | SAPinsider, Volume 15, Issue 1

January 1, 2014

SAP HANA introduces a completely new layer of programmatic access and enables a modern user experience whether on a desktop or mobile device. To take advantage of these innovations, SAP has transformed its solutions to integrate with SAP HANA. This article helps customers understand what these transformations mean for their own landscapes, by answering questions that often come up in three key areas.

 

SAP HANA lies at the heart of SAP’s innovation strategy, both for its technology platform and solutions, such as SAP Business Suite, that run on top of the platform, enabling customers to bring innovation into existing landscapes. For instance, SAP HANA can transform a customer’s data management layer with in-memory database technology that provides analytical insight into traditional online transaction processing systems in real time.

But SAP HANA is not just another database system. It introduces a completely new layer of programmatic access that was not previously available to SAP applications, and enables a modern user experience whether on a desktop or mobile device. SAP HANA also leverages cloud technology to provide a competitive development platform suited for applications that extend beyond SAP’s traditional solution platform.

To take advantage of these innovations, SAP has transformed its solutions to integrate with SAP HANA. This article helps customers understand what these transformations mean for their own landscapes, by answering questions that often come up in three key areas:

  1. The role of SAP NetWeaver when transforming landscapes to SAP HANA
  2. How SAP HANA is changing the traditional programming model
  3. How SAP HANA Cloud Platform helps ease the transition to the cloud
The Role of SAP NetWeaver 7.4

With the SAP technology platform now centered on SAP HANA, the SAP NetWeaver hubs and layers — such as SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse (SAP NetWeaver BW), SAP NetWeaver Gateway, and SAP NetWeaver Portal — play an important role when transforming existing customer landscapes. SAP NetWeaver acts as the foundation for SAP Business Suite, and as an integration platform offering SAP NetWeaver Portal, SAP NetWeaver BW, SAP NetWeaver Business Process Management (SAP NetWeaver BPM), and SAP NetWeaver Process Integration (SAP NetWeaver PI) usage types.

Which Version of SAP NetWeaver Works with SAP HANA?

SAP NetWeaver 7.4, generally available since May 2013, is the version that is currently fully optimized for SAP HANA. It also facilitates the development of modern browser-based and mobile applications because of its integrated UI development toolkit for HTML5 (SAP’s adaptation of the HTML5 standard, known as SAPUI5) and SAP NetWeaver Gateway capabilities. The current support package stack (SPS) is SPS 05, released in December 2013.

SPS 02 for SAP NetWeaver 7.4 was also shipped in May 2013. Optimized for SAP HANA, SAP NetWeaver 7.4 SPS 02 was the basis for SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA, which was delivered in parallel and provided customers with the option to use SAP HANA as the database for SAP ERP, SAP Customer Relationship Management (SAP CRM), and SAP Supply Chain Management (SAP SCM). In August 2013, SAP Business Suite i2013 was delivered with further optimizations for all core SAP Business Suite applications, as well as SAP HANA enablement for SAP Supplier Relationship Management (SAP SRM).

Which SAP NetWeaver Hubs Can Run on SAP HANA?

As of SAP NetWeaver 7.4 SPS 05, which is delivered as a service release, all SAP NetWeaver hubs can run on SAP HANA. The first of the SAP NetWeaver hubs to support SAP HANA was SAP NetWeaver BW with the release of SAP NetWeaver 7.3 and 7.31. With SAP NetWeaver 7.4, SAP NetWeaver Application Server (SAP NetWeaver AS) ABAP was optimized to directly consume native SAP HANA artifacts, such as analytical and calculation views, providing significant benefits for SAP

Business Suite, including new analytical insights and optimizations for many existing reports, such as speeding quarterly closings. The SAP NetWeaver Gateway software components are now delivered as integral parts of SAP NetWeaver AS ABAP 7.4, and thus enabled for SAP HANA.

On the Java side, most of the SAP NetWeaver hubs — including SAP NetWeaver AS Java, SAP NetWeaver Portal, SAP NetWeaver BPM, and Adobe Document Server (ADS) — were enabled for SAP HANA with SAP NetWeaver 7.4 SPS 03, which was released in July 2013. SAP NetWeaver PI (Java implementation only1) was enabled for SAP HANA with SAP NetWeaver SPS 04, released in October 2013.

With all of the SAP NetWeaver hubs running on SAP HANA, SAP customers can simplify their landscapes with homogeneous SAP HANA deployments (see the sidebar “Effective, Flexible Deployments with SAP HANA”).

Effective, Flexible Deployments with SAP HANA

In contrast to SAP NetWeaver co-deployments — where, for example, SAP NetWeaver Portal and SAP NetWeaver BW run on the same box, potentially in combination with SAP ERP — SAP HANA-based deployments are more governed; that is, co-deployments are not supported by default. The goal is to avoid unmanaged co-deployments because they limit the flexibility required to effectively apply innovation. SAP NetWeaver BW, for instance, comes with major innovations and enhanced capabilities for simplified modeling, reduced TCO, and significantly improved performance. To support the deployment of multiple applications on a single SAP HANA system, SAP listens carefully to customer needs, then validates the combinations and documents the approved combinations in SAP Notes. See SAP Note 1661202 for permitted combinations.

Which Releases of SAP Business Suite Content Are Available for the SAP NetWeaver Hubs on SAP HANA?

Interoperability between SAP Business Suite releases and different versions of the SAP NetWeaver hubs is a common customer requirement. Rest assured that SAP supports interoperability between the hubs and SAP Business Suite releases, meaning that customers can decide whether to innovate on the application side by moving to a higher enhancement package and keep their existing SAP NetWeaver hub version, whether to upgrade the SAP NetWeaver hub and keep the existing application back-end version, or whether to upgrade both. This way, customers have the option to stay on their existing database platform, since SAP NetWeaver 7.4 runs on all database platforms supported by SAP.

Maintaining this interoperability, however, requires additional integration and testing effort for both SAP and the customer. To minimize this effort, interoperability is limited to SAP Business Suite i2013, and in particular to the latest enhancement package (EHP7) for SAP ERP, which requires that the SAP NetWeaver hubs run on at least 7.3x (a release many customers have already moved to since maintenance ends for 7.0x in 2017). This restriction substantially simplifies both the landscapes and the codelines. The ABAP codelines were merged as of 7.31, resulting in a single ABAP 7.4 codeline, and the Java codelines are (feature-wise) identical in 7.31 and 7.4. Keep in mind, however, that 7.4 (both ABAP and Java) is required if you want to move to SAP HANA.

How SAP HANA Is Changing the Traditional Programming Model

In traditional SAP implementations, the ABAP stack plays the dominant role in expressing the application’s code and behavior on all levels, particularly in the business logic in the middle tier, and the UI logic — be it Dynpro, business server pages, Internet Transaction Server (ITS) templates, Web Dynpro, or Floorplan Manager — is executed and rendered on the server side and represented by artifacts managed on the ABAP server. Likewise, the data-centric layers are represented by data dictionary artifacts and update function modules that fully abstract from the underlying database system.

This means that in traditional implementations, the DNA of SAP applications is fully expressed in ABAP terms. This architecture has the clear advantage of developer efficiency (a developer simply logs onto this integrated environment and never has to leave it) and platform independence (the developed applications run on all supported platforms due to the database abstraction layer in ABAP). However, the ability to explore the database layer and build highly sophisticated browser applications (both mobile and desktop) is limited with this approach. With the advent of the in-memory capabilities offered by SAP HANA and innovative browser technologies that embrace the HTML5 standard, this picture has changed (see Figure 1).

Figure 1 — The SAP HANA programming model

How Is Application Development Different with SAP HANA?

SAP HANA offers a database layer for content developers that is independent of the application or application server used — meaning that instead of writing complex ABAP SQL logic, code and logic can be delegated directly to the database layer (SAP HANA). This allows direct and efficient execution on the database layer itself, rather than requiring the transfer of huge amounts of data between the database and the application server level.

There are consumption artifacts in the ABAP layer that access the corresponding artifacts — such as analytical views, calculation views, and stored procedures — in the SAP HANA database. These new content types are represented and expressed with SQL and SQL Script, independent of the consuming application, so that they can be encapsulated and tested in the SAP HANA studio (the Eclipse-based integrated development environment [IDE] for SAP HANA development), without the need for programming interaction.  In addition, a new innovation — core data services, included with SAP HANA as of SPS 06 and SAP NetWeaver 7.4 SPS 05 — simplifies coding even further by generating necessary SQL code automatically (see the sidebar “Simplified SQL Coding with SAP HANA”).

Simplified SQL Coding with SAP HANA

The next major innovation for SAP HANA application development is “core data services,” which are a higher-order SQL that relieves application developers from low-level SQL coding for adding referential navigation by generating the required code automatically, and also forms the basis for unified data models in the SAP HANA context. The intention is for SAP HANA to be able to consume various data sources on the same semantic level regardless of whether they are delivered by an ABAP program or SAP BusinessObjects model, for example. Core data services are included as part of SAP HANA extended application services, an application server that is shipped with SAP NetWeaver 7.4 SPS 05 and SAP HANA as of SPS 06.

At the top layer, the UI logic is written in JavaScript, which is flexible and can execute quickly with just-in-time compilation techniques, using SAPUI5. The UI logic is delegated to the client side, instead of the server side, and is executed directly inside the browser. The SAP back end is accessed via well-defined services that are facilitated by the OData protocol.

This architecture clearly distinguishes between the UI logic on the front end and the corresponding application or business logic running on the back end, enabling the UI layer to move from one stack to another — including SAP NetWeaver AS ABAP, SAP NetWeaver AS Java, and SAP HANA Cloud Platform — which was not possible with previous frameworks such as Web Dynpro. This separation between the UI and the underlying application server stacks, combined with support for HTML5 and SAP HANA real-time analysis capabilities, allows developers to build modern, high-performing applications that both desktop and mobile users can consume like any other app downloaded from an app store.

How SAP HANA Cloud Platform Eases the Transition to the Cloud

The cloud’s strategic importance to business continues to increase, and SAP provides a full range of cloud deployment models, from simple evaluation, test, and training or proof-of-concept use cases hosted on Amazon Web Services, to fully productive implementations hosted in the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud infrastructure. But what about customers that want to take their applications to the cloud, yet don’t have the time, resources, or need to invest in a full client-side installation for SAP HANA or additional external servers?

Are There Any Options for Lightweight, Cloud-Based SAP HANA Development?

SAP supports these customers via SAP HANA Cloud Platform — a standards-based development and runtime environment that enables developers to use SAP’s data centers and infrastructure to execute Java-based applications in the cloud. This approach allows developers to use cloud-based services to build application extensions that leverage SAPUI5, mobile, and portal, for instance, and potentially integrate those extensions with back-end persistence or with other cloud offerings. SAP offers a variety of development models and extension frameworks through SAP HANA Cloud Platform, including two new models that support lightweight, cloud-based SAP HANA development: SAP HANA extended application services (also known as XS) and a new browser-based IDE.

SAP HANA extended application services is a lightweight application server that resides inside SAP HANA. Delivered with SAP NetWeaver 7.4 SPS 05 and SAP HANA as of SPS 06, it builds on JavaScript-consuming native SAP HANA artifacts by providing access to the SAP HANA database using a consumption model that is exposed via HTTP-based services (such as OData). Using SAP HANA extended application services, developers can create applications with SAPUI5-based UIs that run on SAP HANA without the need for dedicated application servers. In that sense, SAP HANA extended application services offers the development of two-tier applications, which is a direct approach to a new class of analytical applications, and is the model SAP Business Suite uses for its SAP Fiori applications. SAP HANA extended application services can be tested in the trial landscape of SAP HANA Cloud Platform. 

The new browser-based IDE (see Figure 2) is available with SAP HANA SPS 06. It offers a complete development environment in a web browser, enabling customers to develop and test all artifacts — including UI, business logic, and database-oriented artifacts — in an SAP HANA development scenario in a seamless fashion in the browser, and eliminating the need to install, set up, and configure a tooling platform such as Eclipse. All that is required to begin development is access to SAP HANA extended application services. Eclipse-based tools still have their place when heavy coding is required, but for use cases such as extensions of predelivered applications, many common integration issues can easily be averted by using the web IDE.

Figure 2 — The new browser-based web IDE for SAP HANA development

 

Summary

Traditional SAP customer landscapes are undergoing an SAP HANA transformation. The high-performance and analysis capabilities of SAP HANA drive new insight from SAP solutions, SAPUI5 enables a modern application experience for desktop and mobile users, and SAP HANA Cloud Platform provides a natural way to extend existing solutions using cloud infrastructures. By understanding how SAP HANA is transforming system landscapes, programming models, and cloud-based development approaches, you can begin to bring these innovations into your own landscapes with confidence, and start realizing the benefits of SAP HANA.

 

1 Dual stack deployments on SAP HANA are not supported at all, meaning that SAP NetWeaver PI is supported only as a single-stack Java deployment. [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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