Implementing the Refrigerator
In the last couple of months I have spoken at two technical conferences – SAP TechEd and the ASUG Technical Forum – on the topic of SAP NetWeaver Landscapes. It was a topic that I had submitted internally to our TechEd planners because I was interested in attending the session and learning more about how to implement NetWeaver -based systems. Well, as often happens with things like this, the reply was “Great idea! Why don’t you put that together?”
Well, learn I did. I learned how difficult it can be to make sure you have the right information. I also learned that I am not the only one interested in the topic. The NetWeaver message is being understood more and more by decision makers in a company and that leads to more and more implementations of NetWeaver . Eventually, though, somebody actually has to install it. It is a near certain probability that the somebody or somebody’s that have to install it are technical people.
So I began to put the presentation together. Almost all of the information we have on NetWeaver involve “the refrigerator”. The refrigerator is nice to help begin to explain what NetWeaver is and all, but it really doesn’t show anything to tech types. I am a former basis consultant myself and I wanted to begin to explain “the refrigerator” to the technical side. Many of us have seen the NetWeaver refrigerator by now, in many different presentations. But the refrigerator tells me nothing about how to install NetWeaver . That is, questions like what am I installing? What do I need to install? Do I have to upgrade everything? Help?
The best way to start answering the burning questions about implementing NetWeaver , is to think long term. Obviously there has been some sort of decision to implement NetWeaver in the company; otherwise you wouldn’t need to install it. Certainly, then, you need to know exactly what it is you need to install so the project can get started. But, to most effectively install NetWeaver , it is best to take a step back and consider where it is you are trying to get to with NetWeaver . There is the current implementation, but also consider the next two, three, or even five years and beyond. NetWeaver , and the Enterprise Services Architecture it begins to activate, gives tremendous flexibility to implement different scenarios and that means tremendous flexibility in the ways to install it and manage its lifecycle. Not only flexibility of the software itself, but all the other parts of an IT infrastructure like the hardware, databases, and so on, as well.
Then, d epending on the scenario(s) or specific feature(s) you require, you only need to install or upgrade the components required by that scenario. That sounds simple, but let’s look at an example to show its complexity and the need to spend time on planning. Say you’re upgrading your R/3 4.6C system to mySAP ERP 2004 and wondering if you must also upgrade your BW 3.0B system to 3.5. The simple answer is no, it is not mandatory. As usual, that is a qualified no though! There are no compatibility problems in designing a landscape in this manner. However, the ERP system wouldn’t then be able to take advantage of the functionality that is only provided by a BW 3.5 system. If you don’t need this functionality, no problem, and no need to upgrade the BW system. If the scenario does need the functionality, however, then there are also many options. You could 1) upgrade the current BW system; 2) activate the BW system that is already contained in the ERP system (yes, you read that correctly, but that is an entirely different landscape discussion); or even 3) install another BW system (3.5) and connect it to the ERP system. And that’s just the beginning.
That is why it’s such a great idea to spend time mapping out the future use of NetWeaver and the Enterprise Services Architecture before beginning the first installation. In short, though, you can pick and choose when to implement the SAP NetWeaver ‘04 components. SAP’s Recommendation is to start with a scenario/feature based approach. All NetWeaver components and SAP Applications such as mySAP ERP, SAP CRM, etc can also define scenarios. These scenarios are defined in the application master guides.
For the technical team, one of the best places to begin is the SAP NetWeaver ’04 Master Guide . Here you will find descriptions and diagrams of all the individual NetWeaver component scenarios and the pieces necessary to install for each scenario.