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SAP NetWeaver CE for Dummies – what, why and when

SAP NetWeaver CE is a recent product in the SAP Netweaver platform from SAP. In this blog, I provide the basic understanding on what is SAP CE, why to use SAP CE, when to use SAP CE and other basic information from my direct experience in using SAP CE for customer projects.
I come from ABAP background where I am acquainted with the classic R/3 package of SAP, better known as SAP ECC, which contains the so called modules viz. FICO, SD, MM, HR, PP, PM, etc.
In the last couple of years, I have also heard (and seen quite a few) various other products of SAP viz BI, CRM, SRM, XI (Now called as PI) etc.
Recently, I stumbled upon SAP CE and began wondering what it was and where does it all fit in the net of SAP Netweaver, the technology platform provided by SAP. Questions started boggling my mind – “Is CE a concept or just one another product of SAP?”, “Is it a server to be installed separately like BI/CRM?”, “What is the role of ECC ERP in conjunction with SAP CE?”, “What it is used to compose, as the name suggests?”, “Who will use CE – the normal users of ECC or somebody else?” etc.
Below are some points to get an initial feel of SAP CE, commonly known as “Composition Environment”:
  • SAP CE is a separate server/instance, just like BI,CRM etc. Yes, the basis team needs to install it separately.
  • It does not have any inherent business functionality of its own unlike ECC, BW, CRM etc. Rather, it is used to use functionalities residing in separate servers of ECC, BW, CRM, etc.
  • The business functionality/logic residing in separate servers should be available in the form of webservices / RFC function module. e.g. in ECC, we have ME21N t-code for creating a purchase order. In order to use this through CE, we need to have a RFC enabled function module with the logic of creating a purchase order, and we need to wrap this RFC with a Webservice. Note this Webservice only has the logic, and not the required screen.
  • The screens of the business process/transaction (in our case ME21n) are developed in Java Webdynpro and they are supposed to run on CE. (Note – To develop Java Webdynpro, we need to separately install NWDS in our local machines. We cannot develop it using SAP GUI as we do for ABAP Programs)
  • If the user screens are running and available on CE, then where does the user login to? ECC / BI / CRM. Nope – He logs into CE. But how? Not via SAP GUI but rather via a browser URL which points to CE.
  • SAP CE is equipped with a Webserver/Portal functionality, which allows users to perform the transactions. Remember – the screens of the transaction are developed in Java Webdynpro and are active on CE, and the actual logic (saving a purchase order in our case), is written in ABAP and active inside ECC in the form of a RFC.
  • But why do we do all this if we already have ME21n inside ECC. The simple answer is – We use SAP CE particularly if we want some business process/transaction to be available to users on a browser. We also provide a simplified and a richer interface through WebDynpro where we fetch information from ECC, BW, SRM and even non-SAP backends into a single screen.
Well… this is just to get a naïve feel of SAP CE. There are other questions unanswered and few which may have come up. There is much more to it. Thanks in advance for waiting for the next blog.
Amit Mittal

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      Author's profile photo Sanu Sugathan
      Sanu Sugathan
      It is an informative blog about SAP CE. I had the same doubts in mind when i started reading the blog.
      Thanks
      Sanu