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The Enterprise Architect’s World – Episode 56


ESOA, being looked upon being enabled by SAP NetWeaver requires a much greater depth of understanding of the current situation. Not just from a business perspective, but in terms of the clear overarching vision that SAP is putting forth in terms of driving a business context driven world, going beyond developers who believe that XML can solve all issues around interoperability. The sun will continue to rise in the east, irrespective of whether SOA is a success or not. But more importantly, for businesses who are eagerly embracing SAP NetWeaver as the platform of choice, my workshops give me one single conclusion. There is a life after upgrade, we see so many of them taking place now. The point is – why are SAP asking customers to do so – beyond just licensing and de-supporting of lower versions after a stipulated deadline? The answer lies in the fact that in order to drive an organization and cross-business services meta-model, it is a means to enable true interoperability in terms of A2A and B2B.

I’ll jump ten steps ahead and presume that the enterprise services have been created – outside-in or inside out and it is all hunky-dory with the standards. And I fast forward my life and get transported to a world of only enterprise service bundles.

The Bourne Lunacy : Year 2015

Every single SAP object which is “SOAble” becomes a web or an enterprise service. These get logically clumped up to define a small business logic like a “cancel order”. Really, that’s old hat. What now becomes of es-bundles is – every module and related entities within, say, the SDO module now starts making a different sense to me. The SD Module is now an enterprise service bundle. With specific sub-bundles (for lack of a better name) like pricing, shipping, transportation and others comprising the same. Back in the ’90s, I had to resort to customization and user-exits and other z-objects to extend these applications, and relying heavily on ABAP. Now, to come up with say, a pricing procedure, which I start treating as a sub-bundle, I extend the same to make it a custom prricing procedure, pull up the condition types, access sequences, condition records, do the SPRO configuration in a different way. And now, I will not be using user-exist, instead, I could look at creating these as enterprise services and creating my composite to include this additional step for any validation.

And I now choose to decline the option of customizing anything in ABAP, rather treating my ECC installation as my organization’s BPP and refuse to do any customization (that too in a module like SD!). New processes, defined as composites with new services built out-side in and populated in a hosted ESR – somewhere in Bangalore. I get my updates to my ECC installation not as service or hot packs, but as online updates, the same applies to my set of desktop tools – which is more like a Facebook that runs rich UI interfaces and provides me my space of social and business computing. SAP Logon pad be hanged. Muse is the next Lotus Notes. Now, with my ECC installation in place without customization and swept under th carpet, the installation of it all was as simple as that of a Microsoft office Implementation. No more downtime, no more SP installs. And yes, it is 2015 and Microsoft and SAP are still two different organizations!

Grapes & Wine:

One would be foolish to presume that any customer would be only working his business with SAP and SAP applications alone. A dangerous proposition even if considered as a hypothetical situation. To make service orchestration a reality, let’s forget SAP for a while, but rather looking at it from a technology perspective, the underlying systems have to support communication based on the Web Services standards stack which could be web based or custom. From a business application perspective, the underlying systems would have to be in a position to provide meaningful services to existing and new custom composite applications based on XML. And from a Business perspective, the initiatives have to make business and financial sense, else why contemplate SOA at all. Of course, a single source of truth for Master data has to exist – not that it is a mandatory proposition as many would like us all to believe, with MDM being the silver bullet. A single source of truth for master data may be beneficial; it will go a long way in defining enterprise-wide services meta-model from SAP & non-SAP applications.

That’s for the master data. But the true essence of Enterprise SOA lies in the fact that there has to be Organization-wide services meta-model that brings about the true interoperability that is driven by business semantics operating in a context-free world. Services meta-data has to exist – Enterprise wide.

More often than not, the grapevines are abuzz with some key points that often get discussed post my ESOA workshops in informal discussions are follows:

  • Why and how do we approach enterprise wide services meta-model?
  • What should be our target future SOA Platform?
  • Are we geared up sufficiently in terms of our current state on SOA readiness?
  • How do we create a SOA governance model that will work?
  • How much are the standards & methodologies being built-in?
  • And how do we ensure that we are in a position to create a set of standards-based application in the future, whether we build it on ABAP or on Java?
  • How do we influence the vendor to do our bidding? Is the ecosystem really so powerful?
  • How are the market dynamics influencing our reality?
  • What about the speculations that Analysts so profusely propagate in terms of vendor direction?
  • How do we go forward with a heterogeneous environment?
  • What is our SAP footprint today? What’s our plan? Is it 40% today moving to 60%? Or what?
  • How much influence do the processes covered in SAP yield in the overall scheme of business users who control the IT budgets and Purchase Orders?
  • What is it that we want to outsource?
  • How do the existing and traditional execution models of engagement change with the course taken with Enterprise SOA?
  • What is our mindshare around composition versus customization? Is SAP killing ABAP?
  • Is there an Application Retirement strategy in place with SOA? For reverse & forward engineering?

Outro: Clearly, there is much more to Business Networks and ES-Bundles than meets the eye. In the next edition of the Enterprise Architect’s World, let’s explore the world of a UI-less environment where SAP will have major challenges to address. The ecosystem rocks!

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