Month: October 2006

SAP, SOA and a GUI

When I first learned about SAP, I was led to believe it was insular. Sharing its data or uploading data to it was possible, but expensive and discouraged. If you have SAP, stick with it. Then came XI, the SAP eXchange Infrastructure which is the SAP offering for Enterprise Application Integration (EAI), or now rather Enterprise Service Bus (ESB). With it, you can build marvellous Service Oriented Architectures (SOA). So what? Well, my experience of XI is that its used as a replacement for IDOCs, BAPI, EDI and the like. Instead of those hard to use protocols, simply subscribe to a published web service. But hang on... If SOA is in use, couldn't we go a step further? SAP isn't very good at really rich clients (GUIs), and chances are, to develop one would cost a huge amount. So what about the idea of building your business logic on top of existing SAP functionality, so that you extend it to suit your business processes, and then build that rich client on top of the SOA that SAP can offer from your business logic? An example would be the project I'm working on at the moment. We need to build a planning tool for use in Service Stations for trains. Service stations consist of a large number of platforms where trains can be serviced. Some types of service can only be done on some platforms (axle change for example). As well as planning which trains go where and when and for…

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