Some time has passed since SAP NetWeaver Gateway was released to our customers and partners in late 2011. Many, many things happened in the meantime. At SAP many areas started to use SAP NetWeaver Gateway as the communication layer for user interaction scenarios. Examples are the Productivity Apps, some HANA Solutions like the SAP Customer Engagement Intelligence, SAP Fraud Management or SAP Liquidity Risk Management, many SAP UI5 based applications, Duet Enterprise for Microsoft SharePoint integration – and still many more.
The last two years the majority of our activities and efforts went into the ABAP-based part of the SAP Solutions where we worked hard to provide the best possible developer experience and feature support required to create own OData services as easy, as fast and as sustainable as possible. I can only mention a few topics as examples like the Service Builder, JSON Support, MDX / Easy Query for BW integration, Gateway Client for supportability… and many more minor or major improvements.
As the ABAP-based side is now relatively well covered, we are now evaluating the next level of OData support for SAP-related business scenarios.
Imagine the following scenario – as a customer you need in a project context a solution to include external participants for project confirmation, status updates or updating the project plan. And of course all the typical constraints apply – your IT department is busy with other projects, the requesting department needs a solution tomorrow and of course you cannot compromise on security.
For such a case the Gateway team is considering the following solution approach:
The key-users from the involved departments note down the desired process flow and already sketch down UI mockups – which is then directly the input for the new planned OData Model Editor. In this Eclipse-based tool it is now becoming very easy and comfortable to describe how the data model should look like via a graphical user interface.
The result of the OData modeling is then the starting point to create the required services inside the SAP Business Suite. This results in a mapping of the OData Model from the Eclipse-based modeling tool with e.g. the available RFCs / BAPIs from the SAP Business Suite. The tool to be used is the central Service Builder within the ABAP-based SAP NetWeaver Gateway 2.0, SP6. User Management, authorizations, logging or application logic still remains inside the SAP Business Suite.
Now via the SAP Cloud Connector the modeled services can directly be connected to Gateway as a Service inside the SAP HANA Cloud, where for example a SAP UI5-based User Interface can be used to involve the external participants. The planned productivity accelerator is then helping with the generation of the HTML5-pages based on the SAP UI5 framework.
To make it even easier one could also think of providing an Add-On for Microsoft Excel for the external participants - based on the same OData service. So the external users would then have the choice between various channels to enter the requested data. As the underlying OData Service is the same for various user-interface channels the required effort would decrease with every attached technology.
What you could already see in this simple exemplary scenario is the following:
SAP NetWeaver Gateway consists (simplified) out of two parts: the backend enablement (IW_BEP) and the Gateway Server component. The Gateway Server component is planned to be available also in the SAP HANA Cloud as an alternative deployment option. Still the implementations of the backend component (IW_BEP) can be connected via the SAP Cloud Connector to Gateway as a Service – no re-writing of the already existing content in the backend is required.
Productivity accelerators will help with the OData modeling and the generation of source code for several frontend technologies like Microsoft Outlook, Android, iOS, PHP, Java or HTML5 (jQuery or SAP UI5). Idea of the generated source code is to provide a solid and reliable connectivity layer that then allows customer-specific innovations focusing on the user-interface. Of course – similar to the already existing outside consumption tools – it will be easy to switch from supporting OData directly or using the capabilities of the SAP Mobile Platform.
Such a solution approach would allow SAP NetWeaver Gateway to grow without disruption – from SAP Business Suite-based OData enablement to an enabler of SAP HANA Cloud-based scenarios to the better support of frontend-development directly in their native SDKs.