The Q&A session after my ‘Introduction to SAP NetWeaver CE 7.1’ lecture at the SAP NetWeaver BI/Portal Conference in Orlando was very informative because it showed where there was some confusion and misunderstanding. In this blog I will revisit the topics that came up since SDN members may have similar questions.
SAP NetWeaver Composition Environment 7.1 (referred to as CE from here on) is an innovation platform. It delivers the latest Java EE 5 stack and a host of SAP tools (CAF, VC, GP, Web Dynpro) to enable you to build composite applications. CE is on its own release cycle for that very reason – SAP wants to continuously provide you with the ‘latest and greatest’ without impacting your core ERP or other SAP systems. CE is deployed and runs alongside your other SAP systems – also referred to as a ‘sidecar’, to borrow a term from motorcycling. This allows you to update and upgrade CE separately from ERP, for example.
In conjunction, since CE will be another instance in your SAP landscape, the same design considerations as for any other SAP system apply – i.e. you will in all likelihood have at least a DEV, QA, and PROD CE system to mirror your other SAP systems.
The intention and design of CE is for it to run in a heterogeneous landscape. That’s all well and good, but you may ask yourself, how do I actually make the applications that I develop on CE available to the business users? Can I deploy CE applications into a SAP NetWeaver 7.0 portal? The answer is ‘no’ – anything developed on CE also requires the CE runtime! Hence, the primary mechanism to make CE applications available is portal federation via SAP’s federated portal network (FPN). I will not go into FPN details here since you can read more about it in the excellent Content Sharing in SAP NetWeaver Portal on SDN
In the following section I will discuss three scenarios that you may encounter at your company when using CE. These are not mutually exclusive and there is a high probability that multiple scenarios will exist at larger companies.
Scenario I: Your corporate portal is running on SAP NetWeaver 7.0 with SP9 or higher and thus meets the minimum requirements for FPN. Configured as a consumer, it can integrate content from other portals. Since CE comes with its own light weight portal (no KM or collaboration), it would be the producer portal, hosting the composite applications you develop. Your users would continue to use the corporate portal as their central entry point. From an end-user perspective it all looks the same, they don’t know (or care) where the new CE applications are running. More information is available here.
Scenario II: You don’t have a corporate portal or it doesn’t meet the minimum release requirements. Not a problem, you can still use CE to innovate and build composite apps for your end user because…CE comes with its own portal which means you can use it to provide access to your end-users. The CE portal is a full-fledged portal sans Knowledge Management and Collaboration. The standard portal functionality you expect — authentication, roles, pages, iViews are all there.
Scenario III: This is a hybrid of scenario I and II. If you do some reading on FPN you will notice that a portal can be both a producer and a consumer of content. Confused yet? It’s actually pretty simple – your CE system can provide content to the corporate portal while at the same time allow users to log on directly to the CE portal.
Hopefully, this short blog helped to answer some questions on how to integrate and deploy CE in your company. If you have additional question, feel free to ask them in the comments section.