Recently one of my friend who is also an ABAP developer , corrected me saying that SAP BI is a ‘system’ not an ‘application’. We debated about two minutes and finally I gave up admitting to his demand, since there wasn’t any point in winning an argument . His demand was that I should agree it is a system not an application. I got into thinking why we have a different view about it. I am a SAP Netweaver administrator and consultant. Both of us come from the engineering background in our education, me being an engineering degree in IT and my friend in Electronics. In unix concept a system software and application software is different. A system software is essential programs to run system,eg a kernal. Application software is application run on top of system eg: firefox. But I am aware that the sense of system is different in  our day to day life.

I think SAP BI is an application not a system.When I install it into a computer and make it ready to use for business it becomes a “system” . My friend think SAP BI is a system because it is not application server like Jboss or SAP NW webAS. SAP BI contains SAP webAS as well, but SAP BI is more than SAP NWAS. In my view, it is like this

Question Answer
Is SAP BI a system? No if it is not installed in a computer (server) . Yes if it is installed on a computer.
Is SAP BI an application ? Yes
Is SAP BI an application server? No. But SAP NW web APPLICATION  server is a part of SAP BI

Let me know your views.

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  1. Juan Reyes

    Let’s see…. BI is a SAP NW usage type. Basically BI is just a plain flavored SAP NW system with Add-on BI_CONT running on top.

    I believe you can see it either way… Yes BI is just an application running on NW, and Yes once BI is installed it can only have one usage type so it behave like a system.

    Ohhh and yes… its a pretty pointless debate 😀

    Regards, Juan

  2. Jelena Perfiljeva

    Not sure about BI but if someone asked me whether ECC 6.0 was a system or an application, my first response would be “system” just because it seems too complex to be called an application (I also have mainframe background where we routinely called our ERPs “systems”). But if you ask a Basis admin, you’ll get a totally different (and likely much longer 🙂 ) response.

    Although no offense but you guys should just get a life IMHO. 🙂 Application… system… Pain in the back, that’s what it is! 🙂

  3. Typewriter TW

    ECC 6.0 – When I started off,  I heard Development system, Quality system, Production system.

    Therefore I stuck to system and it has been serving me well.

    Sometimes, with non-SAP professionals, during integration projects, I throw in the word : environment. Let people know that SAP analysts know and can dare to use big words!

    In meetings sometimes when I am on a roll, I throw – from one side: environment and from the other side: requirement. 😉


    added: God help those who want to make sense of it…during these meetings 😉

      1. Typewriter TW


        I will practice the use of “solution” in my core group and when confident, arm myself with the three musketeers – environment, requirement and solution / solutioning

        (This time let alone others) I hope that I can make sense or keep track of my inputs in meetings…. 😉


  4. Reagan Benjamin

    Individually you can call them as application layer, database layer but as a whole I would say it is a system and it is not just for BI, it applies to all (ECC, CRM, etc). When I say whole, it is the server, DB and the application. Also I have only seen system copy guides and not application copy guides. So your colleague is right but his claim does not just apply for BI but for all other systems.

  5. Mahendran K

    Dear All,

    A system(sever-Hardware) is a collection of elements or components that are organized for a common purpose.

    An application is a program, or group of programs, that is designed for the end user.
    Application software can be divided into two general classes: systems software and applications software

    BI is a application..BUt funtcional people called systems like BI SYSTEM, HANA SYSTEM, ecc system   :Dev system, QAT system, PRD system.

    But all the people will call by Bi system/ HANA system/DEV system like that.

  6. Martin English

    My introduction to SAP BW was a couple of BW 2.x a projects, staffed by people from an SAP background and people from Data Warehousing backgrounds. What SAP meant when they used common data warehousing terms was completely at odds with what the traditional DW people were used to.

    Even now, I still see the language barrier, especially when designing / discussing architecture;

    • One netweaver instance can be on one server or (for some high availability scenarios) multiple servers; In the later case, the servers can be on the same or different physical hardware,
    • Two netweaver instances can be on the same server (or not), with the same caveat about server location as above,
    • A netweaver system is a collection of netweaver instances….
    • ….
    • To cut a long story short, is a production Netweaver system just the collection of instances that make up the production ECC system, or should we include all production instances ?
    • Given that bests practice says we should have at least a two tier landscape, should we include non production instances and systems when discussing ‘the SAP system’ ?
    • Since they are so interrelated (from the businesess point of view, anyway), should we include the non netweaver products as well ? They have their own naming issues. For example one single BOBJ ‘system’ requires the installation of multiple components (web clients, web servers, web application servers, platform servers) on one or more pieces of hardware (which may or may not be virtualised).
    • Redundancy requires multiple instances of one or more components, so do we discuss these components individually or as a sub-system (or a subsystem of a (sub) system) designed to make sure at least one of the components (or sub-systems) is available ?
    • Of course, Netweaver or not, some of the components are themselves made up of a number of ‘servers’ (in CompSci terms, they’re processes on a server, or threads running in the process on the server….  did i mention that its turtles all the way down ?)
    • And I haven’t even touched on the NON SAP parts of our “systems” ….What about interfaces ? Are the tools and processes that control input to our SAP systems called applications or systems, or are they part of a larger system ?
    • Are the SCADA / IOT devices that feed data into SAP part of the application or the system ?
    • etc etc

    So we get the situation where people can talk about The SAP system and The Business System and The System all in the same sentence, sometimes (but not always) meaning exactly the same thing, while excluding major necessary components.

    It doesn’t really matter, so long as everyone knows what everyone else means when they say something….. Maybe you and your colleague need an SE11 🙂



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