Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Use SAP NetWeaver BI as an ESA-Oriented Data Source

You can go beyond the traditional use of SAP NetWeaver BI for strategic reporting on aggregated and historic data. Learn how one company created a composite application using a second SAP BW instance as a consolidated data source. The resulting application uses the SAP BW data embedded in a transaction.

Key Concept
Enterprise Services Architecture (ESA) is a service-oriented architecture (SOA) that merges SAP’s enterprise application content with the open composition platform SAP NetWeaver. It enables the building of flexible business processes by SAP systems, partners, and stakeholders by making the linking of software components possible.

Company X, a leading US company, wanted to improve its current manual fax- and email-based process because it took several days for changes to appear in the back-end systems such as mySAP ERP. Company X designs and brands its products and sells them globally. It outsources the production to several hundred contract manufacturers around the world. After creating purchase orders (POs) in mySAP ERP with several dozens of line items, company X issues the POs to the manufacturers. The manufacturers receive the POs to confirm the items. Once they confirm the POs, the manufacturers report the status of the work in progress. The company’s current setup slowed production because internal employees and manufacturers could not see updated data in the back-end systems for several days, or didn’t have access to the information directly.

After preliminary research, company X found no packaged solution that completely fulfilled its requirements. The company decided to combine its existing functionality (mySAP ERP and SAP BW) with SAP Supply Chain Event Management (SCEM) by building a custom composite application. The project team decided to use SAP BW for more than reporting and analyzing. It created a separate SAP BW instance to serve as a direct data source for applications.

Company X’s composite application updates the back-end systems through a Web application via SAP Enterprise Portal. It allows its employees and manufacturers to view updated PO data in near real time. This creates an improved and efficient collaborative process with its contract manufacturers.

Like company X, many organizations today face the challenge of integrating existing applications and composing them into new applications. In many cases, businesses are satisfied with their existing system but want to update it to fulfill changing business needs. When you link existing pieces of applications, you can consolidate data from different sources. Enterprise Service Architecture (ESA) allows you to keep current IT software while building composite applications. Many companies have switched from a traditional buy and build approach to a buy, compose, and build approach (Figure 1).

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