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Connect SAP R/3 4.6C and SharePoint 2003 – Part I: Prepare Environment

Our company is using SharePoint Portal Server 2003 as our intranet. We are also using SAP R/3 4.6C to run their business. There are huge amount of important data in SAP database. There ere are business needs to present SAP data on SharePoint pages which are easier and more friendly to be accessed by users.

The top concern for IT people to meet this challenge is DO NOT CHANGE/UPGRADE THE EXISTING SAP SYSTEM which is so far run smoothly and stably. We cannot accept any risk to make big changes on SAP. I read some articles and I thought we may need install SAP WebAS 640 plus SAP XI components to meet my requirements. As I know, SAP team will not accept such a change.

So is there any way to add new web applications without making big changes on SAP system, specially the SAP architecture itself?

Thomas Jung, an experienced SAP expert gave us a clear positive answer when I requested his help on above requirements, “Really though there is another solution you should probably consider – the .Net Connector. It sounds like the .Net Connector would meet the requirements you have specified. It would require no additional server components. Your .Net Applications would communicate directly to R/3 46C via RFC with the inclusion of a single Assembly DLL.

In other words, there is no change on our existing SAP R/3 4.6c. What we need to do is to install some SAP .net connector related assembly dlls on our SharePoint portal server and then deploy the SAP web parts on Sharepoint sites. The development environment has one more need to add Java Run Environment.

The key componment Thomas mentioned is the SAP Connector for Microsoft .NET. “It is a programming environment that enables communication between the Microsoft .NET platform and SAP Systems. It supports SAP Remote Function Calls (RFC) and Web services, and allows you to write various applications, for example, Web form, Windows form, and console applications within Microsoft Visual Studio .NET.” and then, “You can use all Common Language Runtime (CLR) programming languages such as Visual Basic .NET, C#, or Managed C++.” (See Ref 5). SAP web sites read, “The SAP connector for Microsoft .NET allows developers to expose BAPIs and remotely-enabled function modules to any .NET application (inside-out). Now you can also access .NET components from any mySAP.com application (outside-in). ” In other words, with SAP .net connector, you can use your familiar MS .net language to quickly access SAP data to write your web application such as web parts in Sharepoint.

Here is the physical architecture and prerequisites of connecting SharePoint as front end and SAP as back-end are shown as below figure.

Figure 1. Connecting SAP 4.6C and SharePoint 2003

The official technical architecture of SAP .net connector is shown as below figure (selected from SAP .net connector version 1.0 , Nov 2002).

Figure 2. SAP .Net Connector

The physical architecture and logic architecture of connecting SAP and SharePoint are shown as below figure (selected from Technical Guidance for Connecting Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003 to mySAP™ ERP).

Figure 3. Physical Architecture of Webparts Connecting SAP

Figure 4. Logic Architecture of Webparts Connecting SAP

In my case, I have a testing server which has installed:

1. Windows 2003
2. SQL 2000 SP 3
3. SharePoint Portal Server 2003 SP1
4. Visual Studio 2003

In order to set up a testing environment to connect SAP, I installed:

1. SAP .net connector 2.1.
2. the latest Java Runtime Environment (JRE)

On SAP side, I requested SAP admin to create a developer-right user on IDES for our .net developer. No other change to existing SAP system.

So now the testing environment is ok for me to start exploring SAP-SharePoint world.

In next tip, I will explain step by step to develop webparts to present SAP data on SharePoint pages.

Reference

1. Technical Guidance for Connecting Microsoft® Office SharePoint® Portal Server 2003 to mySAP™ ERP http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=4a581c05-4a3f-4daf-b96d-804b83f34868&displaylang=en , accessed in Oct, 2005.
2. Calling WebServices from ABAP via HTTPS, Thomas Jung, Calling WebServices from ABAP via HTTPS , accessed in Oct, 2005.
3. SAP Interoperability with Microsoft http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserversystem/interop/resources/sap.mspx , accessed in Oct, 2005.
4. SAP Developer Forums, SAP http://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/sdn/collaboration , accessed in Oct, 2005.
5. SAP Connector for .NET, http://www.microsoft-sap.com/overview_sap_connector.html , access in Oct, 2005.

Download

1. The SAP Connector SAP Connector for Microsoft .NET is an SAP Product and can be downloaded at http://service.sap.com/connectors – You will need to log on to SAPNET Please use your SAP ID and Password to logon
2. Java Runtime Environment (JRE) You can download JRE version 1.3 or higher from http://java.sun.com/j2se/1.3/jre

Next tip:http://ms.mblogger.cn/tedteng/posts/18470.aspx, Connect SAP R/3 4.6C and SharePoint 2003 – Part II: Define SAP Proxy

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