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Building the Bridge – From IT Practices to Usage Types

Part I — Introduction

Implementing a service oriented landscape can be very challenging for the IT department.  There is the question of where to start?  What systems should be service enabled?  What systems need to be installed and what systems need to be upgraded?  Understanding how to answer the questions can be just as challenging for the business.  The business may be sold on the benefits that Enterprise Services Architecture (ESA) can provide, but they do not speak the systems language of IT to be able to describe what must be done.

In earlier blogs, I have written about helping administrators understand how to implement “The Refrigerator”.  The Refrigerator is the famous slide that shows all of the capabilities of SAP NetWeaver: People Integration, Process Integration, Information Integration and so on.  The Refrigerator gives a good, first understanding into the capabilities of SAP NetWeaver, but it does not, by itself, provide the bridge between the business and IT view of the ESA world.  Why is this bridge important?  Well, if the CEO and CIO can view the business and business processes in the same way, then they can both spot opportunities for business process efficiency – and thus competitive differentiation – within the landscape. 

One of the values that service architectures can provide – and, thus, is a key feature of SAP NetWeaver – is agility.  If a company can rapidly change their business processes, then presumably they can rapidly take advantage of newly recognized market opportunities.  The shortcoming of The Refrigerator view of SAP NetWeaver, though, is that is does not directly align business processes to the underlying technology components.  A process may wind its way from the Enterprise Portal, gather information from BI, and send a message with the Exchange Infrastructure.  For a company to take advantage of SAP NetWeaver, they need to adapt the IT view of technology (systems and hosts) to the business requirements (which are ever changing).  In other words, cross-capability and cross-organizational views of the SAP NetWeaver Refrigerator are needed.

In this four-part blog series, I am going to build the bridge.  I am going to describe the new concepts introduced by SAP with SAP NetWeaver 2004s that are the pieces of the bridge: from IT Practices to IT Scenarios to Usage Types.  We are even going to see how it relates to food and talk about my favorite: beer.  By the end we are going to have business and IT on the same page, talking the same language and building a successful ESA for the company.

Building the Bridge – Part II…IT Practices, loaves of bread, and beer…

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