WebServices to do “lookups” into SAP or to send data from or into SAP is a rarely used process within SAP.
Having attended many ASUG or TechED/Sapphire conferences in the past and after having interacted with many industry peers, I have come to realize that WebServices which is a very good process/technology/feature in which instantaneous synchronous transactions can be achieved with SAP is a seldom used process.
Why do companies avoid using WebServices:
There could be many reasons for this – Idocs, RFC calls, BAPI calls etc. are the most popular methods for synchronous and asynchronous means of communication and have been around for a long time. WebServices wherein a webservice with a URL makes a call to SAP or out of SAP is relatively new and companies with deep SAP experience are generally loathe to try something that is new and generally prefer to stick to existing proven technologies.
A lack of awareness within the developer and architecture community generally slows down the adoption of this new technology.
Advantages of using WebServices:
- Synchronous and fast means of communication.
- Avoids duplication of data across multiple environments and keeps SAP as a “system of record” thus eliminating future complications of data duplication.
- Ease of maintenance – no need to update an Idoc segment or field – simply add or remove fields as per your requirement and you are good to go.
Potential usage of WebServices:
- WebServices can be used for real time ‘lookup’ wherein a GL Account, Cost Center or any other master data can be quickly looked up from a calling system – this eliminates data inaccuracy and keeps data accurate. The call made from the 3rd party system can be setup so that any criteria can be fulfilled.
- For medium to small enterprises that do not have a heavy flow of data, WebServices and the instant nature of a synchronous transaction means that a document or a master data item is immediately available without worrying about nightly jobs or failures etc. – solve your problems as you go along.
- In my current company, WebServices are the defacto means of communication to and from SAP – we have over 25+ webservices that have been working since the last 30 months and that too the results have been fantastic and with minimum errors.