- with a watchful eye on how the integration is done (to verify that the API is used in the way we anticipate and not to perform all manner of skullduggery) and
- if necessary to adjust or enhance the API before it is made generally available and
- to ensure that the connector is a success and does not fail due to lack of a good communications link to the SAP developers when if the interim documentation is ambiguous.
Interested? As a customer or a partner or a third-party software vendor supporting an SAP customer just consult SAP Note 921758 for the exact details. A brief summary is
- fill in a form to submit the basic project details
- wait for an SAP expert to be assigned as bonafide contact
- write the connector code (the SAP API is written in Java so Java skills are needed)
- health check and go-live
If you’ve read this far you can pat yourself on the back because you now know everything that you need to know. If you are curious to know more, here is a brief FAQ to help. 1. Is the SAP NetWeaver Portal a prerequisite?Yes. You will need an SAP NetWeaver Portal Release 2004 or 2004s (still unfamiliar with the NetWeaver terminology – that means EP 6.0 and above). 2. Is this API BPEL4People compliant? Although BPEL4People has excited the world in terms of being a vital piece of the whole BPM foundation, it is still nothing more than (a) a white paper describing the goals and approach to human-to-process integration (b) many hours of commuting back and forth between SAP and IBM (c) days and evenings deep in passionate think-tanking about how best to reach the goal (d) an emerging specification paper that has not yet been published. So this API cannot be BPEL4People compliant (the specification has not been published yet) but it is a big step in the right direction. Treat this API as a very practical sign of SAP’s committment to this upcoming standard. 3. When will the API be made available to everyone (general availability)? Now where’s that crystal ball? 4. Is this part of the long term SAP NetWeaver strategy? Yes. The SAP NetWeaver strategy is about being an open platform. It is no coincidence that the universal worklist is becoming well and truly open and is embedded in the heart of SAP NetWeaver (not an add-on). 5. Is this of any business value whatsoever? Yes. Not even taking into account such cost factors, as maintenance, help-desk manning, users’ speed and ease-of interaction – it enables the different disjunct tasks to interact with one-another in a common context – as close to the ERP business objects behind the activies as you can get. This opens up all sorts of new possibilities, and creates new simpler and more transparent processes at every level of granularity and independent of the software vendor used. I hope you like it.