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While I was writing my SOA to take on BPM for BPX, I discussed about the SOA and BPM struggle spread across various organizations. While thinking that a hybrid of both would be the best solution, I wondered what part of NetWeaver roadmap SAP would be focusing to provide these solutions. And guess what – the first technical thought that whacked my mind was the use of SAP Process Integration (that’s my primary skill :)). After a little exploration, I was sure that I am on a correct track. SAP Process Integration (PI) along with the Composition Environment (CE) is what SAP put forward for technical implementation of these giant concepts.

The latest version of PI, i.e., PI 7.1 and CE 7.1 EhP1, offers numerous functionalities that may help an organization to move towards its SOA initiative and BPM implementation.

BPM with SAP NetWeaver

Earlier NetWeaver BPM capabilities were delivered as a component of SAP PI incorporating the executable version of BPM called as the cross component BPM (ccBPM). ccBPm used to be System centric concentrating primarily on System to System communication. However, there was a growing requirement for a human-centric approach too. This human centric approach has been further enhanced by SAP NetWeaver CE 7.1 capabilities. Few components of SAP NetWeaver business process management solution comprise the following:

  1. The latest version of ccBPM delivered with SAP PI 7.1 captures the much awaited human-centric approach accommodating System to human communication and vice-versa. ccBPM being a central component could be used for A2A and B2B communications. Additional to this, it provides a convenient interface with SAP Core Application Processes like SAP Business Workflows.
  2. SAP joined hands with IDS Scheer for utilizing their popular ARIS Business Process Management tool to incorporate the demand for a single enterprise wide BPM tool. This tool is available as a component of CE 7.1.
  3. Universal Work List is the medium which when utilized as a part of end-to-end business process, realizes the human interaction requirement. Herein, the portal based user could get the action items in its inbox.
  4. Apart from these new capabilities, SAP ensures the ability to leverage the existing core application processes e.g. SAP Business Workflows. These workflows could communicate seamlessly with the SAP PI or CE.

Have a look at a simple example incorporating few of these capabilities at my wiki on leave approval scenario. Along with these there are various other tools available with NetWeaver CE to handle the business process lifecycle across an organizational landscape.

SOA with SAP NetWeaver

When SAP would have designed the Composition Environment and SAP PI, they must have thought about the futuristic market aberration towards SOA (atleast I think so :)). The roadmap of these technologies seems to have one eye fixed at SOA and the other eye guiding a gradual development towards it. It would have been realized that ABAP could not only be the supportive structure across the organization and for overall benefit, there is a need to involve the group which themselves are not very SAP proficient. This would have lead to incorporating various technology independent functionalities in SAP NetWeaver. The major bearers are the following:

  1. First task is to manage the services at a central pool where the service metadata along with its references is stored. This central location is termed as Service Registry. It helps is defining classifications of organization wide services. Both SAP PI 7.1 and CE 7.1 provide Service Registry installation.
  2. The modeling support and integration capabilities to this registry are provided by Enterprise Service Repository (ESR). ESR could maintain global data types, service interface and various business process models. ESR is also available both with SAP PI 7.1 and CE 7.1.
  3. Generating services for all the business processes could be cumbersome and inefficient. Therefore SAP provides some pre-delivered set of Enterprise Services categorized based on the business processes. Such a set of services are termed as Enterprise Service Bundles. These bundles could be imported into ESR and could be readily used.
  4. For the administration of these Enterprise Services, SAP has NetWeaver Administrator (Java based) or SOA Manager with transaction SOAMANAGER (ABAP based) could be used.  SOAMANAGER replaces WSADMIN and WSCONFIG transactions for web services.
  5. SAP’s collaboration with Amberpoint would help to leverage their SOA Management System (SMS) through NetWeaver.  This would further enhance the SOA Management capabilities of NetWeaver.

It seems to be a vast ocean of tools and technology lying ahead insisting its exploration. In my point of view, the organizations now have a lot to exploit from these rich set of products delivered with SAP NetWeaver and improve their business processes.

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