For my second blog in this series, I want to focus on one of the key connectivity capabilities of SAP NetWeaver 7.4 – that is, the automated setup and configuration of complete applications across multiple ABAP systems.
Imagine you are someone with an interest in a business, but not in the technical details of the underlying system landscape. You know your business entities – for example, sales offices, regional offices, warehouses, and so on – and what they are called and what they do in the real world. You also have a business scenario that somehow requires the various business entities to communicate with each other. Now imagine that you are part of a large organization with several hundred systems and thousands of administrators and/or persons responsible for individual systems.
Maybe this business scenario of yours runs over several ABAP systems/clients and is implemented entirely with asynchronous Web services. That would mean configuration has to be done in all systems and that means making changes to the productive systems (What! – Did you not know that you cannot transport configurations?).
The Manual Way is Hard
Now you have a problem or two. Who do you talk to? Does anyone understand you – you speak “business”, they speak “technical”. What systems are affected? How do you fill out system-specific spreadsheets so that changes will be allowed and then correctly implemented? Somehow you have managed to identify and persuade all the right people to make the necessary changes. How do you know that each manual step has been done correctly? The process depends on so many people. These people are not necessarily specialists for the changes that have to be made and have, almost certainly, no overall perspective about the end result.
Central Management makes it Easy
Now it is almost magical. What you need to know is vastly reduced. You need to know that an integration scenario definition exists that matches your needs and you need the names of the business entities that are to be connected. You need to find the relevant person responsible for handling the scenarios in the central system. The information you provide is understandable to you, and it is understandable to the administrator because all the necessary information is available in the central system through SOA Manager (transaction SOAMANAGER). When the scenario is configured and the changes released to the landscape, the status of the changes is available in the central system.
It is almost magical, but not quite. The integration scenario definition that is found in SOA Manager is something that has to be developed. There is a dedicated perspective in the Eclipse-based ABAP Development Tools for integration scenario definitions and related objects (it is also possible in SE80). That is a topic for a future blog.