In my previous WebLog (The story of MDM5.5 The Story of MDM5.5 ) I have introduced you with SAP MDM evolution, and provided an overview of SAPs MDM5.5 product. Now I want to share with you my thoughts regarding the MDM5.5 current/future integration to the NetWeaver platform.
When will the MDM5.5 will be integrated to NW ??
Almost every customer that starts now an MDM implementation project with MDM5.5 asks the questions regarding the NetWeaver integration, and what will be the future consequences for the early adapters of the product. The major issue that troubles customers is the fact that the MDM5.5 server does not run under the NW WebAS but run as standalone C++ server. During this WebLog I will try to explain how I see the integration to NW and why I think that even though the MDM engine does not run under the WebAS the product is NW integrated.
NW Integration aspects
When you ask your self whether a certain product is integrated to NW platform you need to tackle the question from different aspects of integration and according to the matching aspects you can evaluate the degree of integration. Lets try to see what the important aspects when talking about integration to the NW platform are:
Running on the same technology the first aspect that come into mind is whether the product is implemented in the same technology, in our case the question is whether the MDM5.5 is developed in Java or ABAP and runs under the WebAs the second question is whether the product will be migrated in the future. Well the answer to those question is no, the reason for that is that the MDM product is developed in C++ (the engine) and win32 application for both the console and client, this will not be changed because the following reasons:
o The MDM5.5 engine is very sophisticated and high performance and implemented a special RAM mechanism. The java and ABAP languages are more limited in the sense of Memory handling and therefore do not meet the requirements for such a product. That is why there is no sense in migrating the MDM5.5 engine to run under the WebAs and hurt one of the most important and crucial capabilities.
o Both the client and console applications are rich UI that meant to provide advanced capabilities in optimal response time and those types of applications do not fit the Web programming model.
Using each other services in a native way here we need to determine in what way the MDM5.5 interacts with the NW platform and also in what way application running under the WebAs interacts with the MDM5.5 product. From that perspective the MDM5.5 product is well integrated in the following ways:
o WebAs integration the importance of integrating into WebAs does not have to be written in Java/J2ee but provide the possibility to interact with the MDM solution natively from within WebAs applications. For that we have three important ingredients:
MDM standard Connector this connector is compliant to our NW connector framework that is based on JCA (j2ee standard for connectors).the connector enables any application running inside the WebAs to interact natively with MDM capabilities.
MDM Java API full-blown API that exposes every single capability the MDM product provides from java. You can use this API inside the WebAs (using the above connector) or in any other standalone java application.
MDM ABAP API – full-blown API that exposes every single capability the MDM product provides from ABAP (running under the WebAs by definition).
o EP integration MDM is well integrated into EP because of the fact that EP is running under the WebAs and uses the connector framework mentioned above. What it means is that any portal application (iviews) will be able to use the information and capabilities come with the MDM product. SAP will also provide some out of the box iviews that will be able to present information from the MDM.
o XI integration the MDM product is well integrated with XI in terms of splitting the reasonabilitys between the two products, XI will be in charge of all the tasks performing complex data transformation, enrichment from other sources and connectivity to source and destination systems.
Completion Vs overlapping this aspect determines whether there is an overlapping relationship between the products or completion, usually when products are not integrated you will see overlapping functionality meaning same functionality is done by both products in different ways, from that perspective the MDM5.5 is well integrated with the NW platform, the product has no overlapping functionality and they complete each other. The MDM provides the Master Management and Catalog management capabilities to the platform and the platform provides the application connectivity (connector framework, portal, XI) capabilities, and the data source connectivity and data transformation capabilities (XI).
Development environment an important aspect of integration is whether you need to have different development environments in order to develop one application that uses both products (runs under the NW platform and uses the MDM5.5). from that perspective the integration is good with room for improvements, it is good because in order to develop the application you only need the NW Development Studio, there you will find all you need (including the MDM API), but if you look at the MDM environment setup as part of your development then here you will need to use different environment (the MDM console) for creating and maintaining the data model. Maybe there is room for developing Eclipse Plug-in that will provide the console capabilities (Im not aware of such plans but )
Runtime environment readiness an important aspect is how hard do I need to work in order for the runtime environment to be ready, in our case how hard do I need to work in order for the WebAs to be able to host applications using MDM5.5, here the answer is almost nothing, the MDM5.5 will supply the connector you would only need to deploy it (in the standard way) to your WebAs environment and you are ready to go.
Installation process one of the external facing aspects of integration is the installation process, one of the benefits coming with NW is the fact that you have a unified way of installing the different components and they can be standalone but also built on each other, from that perspective the MDM5.5 does not comply to the NetWeaver installation process (currently the MDM5.5 is a standalone installation). Im not aware of concrete plans for changing that but Im guessing that in the future the installation will be complied with the NW standard.
All of the above proves that the MDM5.5 is well integrated to NW from technical point of view, indeed it is important but one of the strong points SAP brings to the table is its business experience and its result content, with MDM5.5 we can expect SAP to provide additional value to Master Data Management solution implementation in the following ways:
Out of the box SAP Enterprise Portal components that will provide a typical view for Master Data.
Business Processes scenarios (via XI) that combines MDM activities.
Out of the box MDM data model schemas.
Part of the above is already here (like the SAP enterprise Portal iviews, and MDM data model schemas) but you can expect this content offerings to grow and bring extremely important value to the MDM solution.
The MDM5.5 integration to NW is more then just running on the same platform/technology, as we can see the product is well integrated from technical point of view even though it runs on different technology and yes there is always room for more improvement that Im sure will come in the future. Personally I have two important conclusions regarding MDM5.5 integration to NW and SAP:
The first important conclusion I have in the technical aspect is that I can start implementing MDM solutions with MDM5.5 today without being worried that NW integration issues will affect it in the future. The reason Im drawing that conclusion is that the core of MDM5.5 is already NW integrated and the future changes that might come (development environment, installation process, etc) will not affect the core functionality of my solution.
The second important conclusion is that I can expect to see more benefits coming from SAP in the business content area of MDM, and that gives me a tremendous added value for the future.