Driving Business process innovation with service- orienteD ...

Text-only Preview

enterprise resource planning: sap
Driving Business process
innovation with service-
orienteD architecture
anD sap netweaver
By Michael Bechauf
Enterprise service-oriented architecture (SOA) can help
reduce IT costs and increase flexibility, but successful
deployment depends on the broad adoption of industry
standards. SAP is committed to standards development
and the integration of standards into the SAP® NetWeaver®
platform, the foundation of SAP enterprise SOA.

Standards are essential to the efficient develop- Utilizing standards as the foundation
ment and adoption of information management
of enterprise SOA
technologies—hardware, software, and services.1
Enterprise SOA is the blueprint for the latest generation of
Accordingly, many commercially successful technologies
SAP software—the business applications and underlying tech-
have undergone some process of standardization before
nologies that form a business process platform. Enterprise
achieving mainstream adoption.
SOA elevates the design, composition, and deployment of
Consider the standards that make up the foundation of
Web services to an enterprise level through the use of enter-
the World Wide Web, such as HTTP, HTML, and TCP/IP. These
prise services, standards-based ways of encapsulating
Related Categories:
standards, and the cost-effective systems and software they
enterprise functionality and exposing it as a reusable busi-
Enterprise Resource
allow, enabled the rapid development and success of the
ness service. A combination of granular Web services and
Planning (ERP)
Internet, and were remarkably effective in making its tech-
business logic, enterprise services form the building blocks
nology available to millions of users. Conversely, a lack of
needed to automate complex business processes and allow
Service-oriented architecture
standards can significantly impede broad adoption of IT.
cost-efficient development of composite applications.
Before the World Wide Web, the lack of a standard network
Enterprise SOA reverses the concept of integration.
Visit DELL.COM/PowerSolutions
for the complete category index.
stack resulted in a highly fragmented market, where inter-
Traditionally, organizations purchased large enterprise
operability problems meant that many software applications
systems and then spent tremendous amounts of capital
could only be deployed on a specific LAN and that IT orga-
on integration. With enterprise SOA, integration starts
nizations were burdened with supporting disparate network
when it should—at the beginning. Organizations first
acquire services—from SAP or SAP partners, for example,
To help address these chal enges and increase enterprise
or by developing them internally—and then integrate them
value, standards are a prerequisite for the widespread adoption
into composite applications to help address a specific set
of many technologies. Enterprise service-oriented architecture
of challenges.
(SOA) is no exception. Openness—the foundation of enterprise
However, the business process flexibility enabled by
SOA—and a holistic approach to standards are essential to SAP
these composite applications requires services from diverse
co-innovation with its partners and customers.
sources, which is why standards—technical specifications
1 A version of this article originally appeared in the “SAP Ecosystem in Action” special feature in SAP Insider, April–June 2007, www.sapinsideronline.com.
Reprinted from Dell Power Solutions, November 2007. Copyright © 2007 Dell Inc. All rights reserved.

adopted to allow products from different sources
high levels of process and development flexibil-
Standards (OASIS). These standards are
to work together—are critical. For organizations
ity. The technical underpinning of the SAP enter-
reflected in the core Internet connectivity and
using SAP software, standards allow both SAP
prise SOA is SAP NetWeaver, a comprehensive
Web services interoperability capabilities of
and non-SAP applications and services to inter-
platform for the provisioning, production, con-
SAP NetWeaver. This interoperability is also
operate, meaning they can exchange informa-
sumption, and management of services and
rigorously tested in the Web Services
tion as seamlessly as possible without
service-enabled business processes. This plat-
Interoperability Organization (WS-I), chaired by
introducing unnecessary costs and risks.
form helps ensure that critical processes are
SAP. WS-I promotes consistent and reliable
secure, reliable, and scalable.
interoperability among Web services across
Creating standards for technology,
SAP NetWeaver is built on an enterprise SOA
platforms, operating systems, and program-
languages, and business semantics
that utilizes Web services standards. These stan-
ming languages. SAP NetWeaver is already
SAP takes a holistic approach to the relation-
dards are important for efficiently deploying
compliant with WS-I Basic Profile 1.1 and WS-I
ship between standards and the business pro-
enterprise solutions, and are often created
Basic Security Profile 1.0.
cess platform, which SAP classifies into three
within international standards development
Enterprise SOA is much more than just a
layers, as shown in Figure 1: technology stan-
organizations with business experts, systems
technology platform, however: it integrates SOA
dards, languages for defining business seman-
architects, and other thought leaders. SAP leads
with business semantics. Accordingly, the lan-
tics, and business semantics standards.
and participates in these organizations and the
guages in which business semantics for services
Utilizing standards within each layer allows the
development of these standards. For example,
are defined must also be standardized.
efficient assembly of interoperable composite
SAP is part of the World Wide Web Consortium
applications. (For more information on the
(W3C) advisory board, which defines the techni-
Languages for defining business semantics:
common standards that cut across all three of
cal standards for the World Wide Web, including
Promoting a common vocabulary
these layers, see the “Building common stan-
HTML, XML, and core Web services specifications
For an organization to create composite applica-
dards” sidebar in this article.)
such as Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP),
tions using enterprise services, it needs a
Web Services Description Language (WSDL),
technology foundation of relevant Web services
Technology standards: Building security,
Web Services Addressing (WS-Addressing), and
standards that help ensure secure, reliable mes-
reliability, and scalability
Web Services Policy (WS-Policy).
sage exchange. But it also requires common
Technology standards provide the foundation for
SAP also leads multiple SOA standards
languages that can be understood by all parties
the openness and interoperability of the SAP
critical to enterprise SOA at the Organization
when designing, provisioning, composing, and
enterprise SOA, which is designed to provide
for the Advancement of Structured Information
consuming enterprise services.
Such languages are used to create formal,
standardized definitions of business informa-
tion, processes, and services. For example,
Model-driven composition tools
WSDL is a services definition language that
provides a technology-independent way to
SAP business process platform/enterprise SOA
describe Web services. These types of lan-
guages provide a bridge that allows technology

and business semantics to evolve indepen-

m standards
Process definitions
Service definitions
Message definitions
dently of one another. They also allow the
Languages for defining
expression of the business contract that defines
business semantics
Process definition languages
the obligations of an enterprise services pro-
Service definition languages
vider. Rigorous contract specification helps
Message definition languages
ensure the business integrity needed to develop
and integrate composite applications.
hnolog standards
Metadata infrastructure
Component frameworks
Business semantics standards:
Foundation (transport, core languages)
Crossing industry borders
Source: SAP Insider, April–June 2007, www.sapinsideronline.com.
Business semantics standards enable the pre-
cise, efficient use of information across different
Figure 1. Enterprise SOA standards
technologies, markets, industries, and locations.
Reprinted from Dell Power Solutions, November 2007. Copyright © 2007 Dell Inc. All rights reserved.

enterprise resource planning: sap
industries to encourage the adoption of this
building common standards
Establishing common business semantics
is an enormous investment, but success can
Common standards apply to all layers of the standards taxonomy and are critical to a successful enter-
facilitate the high level of interoperability crucial
prise SOA strategy. SAP is leading the way in its adoption of industry-accepted common standards:
to enabling organizations to efficiently compose
applications in an enterprise SOA. Industry
• The SAP NetWeaver development environment is built on the open source Eclipse platform. By
standards and SAP enterprise services are
using Eclipse, SAP has adopted the de facto industry-standard development environment, and
already helping increase semantic interopera-
organizations using SAP software can benefit from the large Eclipse ecosystem.
bility as a result of these efforts.
• SAP became a leader in enterprise Java when it announced early compatibility with Java Platform,
Enterprise Edition 5 (Java EE 5).
Enhancing flexibility through industry
• SAP is a key participant in the Open SOA Collaboration, providing developers with a simple, powerful
way to construct composite applications. This collaboration defines a language-neutral model that
Industry standards defined by organizations
exploits SOA characteristics and benefits. Currently, the collaboration is working on the Service
such as W3C, OASIS, WS-I, and UN/CEFACT are
Component Architecture (SCA) and Service Data Objects (SDO) specifications.
critical to realizing the benefits of enterprise
• SAP is also a key contributor to the Web Services Business Process Execution Language Extension
SOA. With SAP NetWeaver and enterprise SOA,
for People (BPEL4People) specification, which provides missing process definition capabilities for
SAP has enhanced business process flexibility
human interactions as one of the key SOA building blocks.
so that organizations can develop, build, and
manage business applications on a foundation
of open standards—flexibility that, in turn, helps
For example, a purchase order can be correctly
as well as numerous customer focus groups and
them use IT to increase the responsiveness and
processed only if each field in the message is
industry value networks.
profitability of their business.
correctly understood in the proper context.
The proliferation of vertical-industry stan-
Business semantics standards provide the
dards organizations, however, has become a
Michael Bechauf is the vice president of indus-
common understanding necessary to execute
serious obstacle to interoperability, particularly
try standards at SAP, where he is responsible
a business process such as order-to-cash,
when those standards cross industry borders.
for SAP participation in industry-standards
which may include messages such as orders,
For example, functionally equivalent messages
activities and for the strategy to integrate stan-
ship notices, goods receipts, invoices, and
are represented in vastly different ways in dif-
dards into SAP business process platform soft-
ferent industries and sectors. Semantically, the
ware. He currently serves as president and
Today, many organizations are helping
messages have the same meaning and function,
chairman of WS-I and as a member of the Java
define which standards are necessary for spe-
but integration efforts have become extraordi-
Community Process Executive Committee and
cific vertical industries or for cross-sector
narily expensive across industries.
the Eclipse Foundation board of directors.
uses. These organizations typically include
A convergence of methodologies and
private-sector entities seeking to establish a
semantics across vertical industries could help
cooperative relationship with national,
address these challenges. Creating this conver-
regional, and international standards
gence would require a well-positioned, cross-
industry standards development organization.
SAP, with its 30-year history of building
Accordingly, SAP has invested heavily in the
business process applications, has helped lead
United Nations Center for Trade Facilitation and
the development of business semantics stan-
Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT). UN/CEFACT
QuicK linKs
dards for vertical industries such as the aero-
standards define both basic message primi-
space and defense, automotive, chemical,
tives (vocabulary) and the methodology that
consumer goods, high-tech, mill products, oil
enables consistent naming and structuring
and gas, banking, health care, insurance, trans-
(grammar). SAP adopted the UN/CEFACT meth-
Standards and SAP enterprise SOA:
portation, and public services industries. Today,
odology in enterprise services design several
SAP is actively engaged in over 50 vertical-
years ago, and has since been active in
industry standards development organizations
standards organizations in many vertical
Reprinted from Dell Power Solutions, November 2007. Copyright © 2007 Dell Inc. All rights reserved.