Internet Business Framework SAP BASIS

One of the success factors for SAP was the seamless integration between applications. In SAP you can see the whole business process, no matter if it has interaction with Finances (FI), Controlling (CO), Asset Management (AM), Sales and Distribution (SD), or Human Resource (HR) modules. The ALE allows integration between applications in distributed systems. The Internet will increase the integration between processes not only inside one company but between companies, as the common media to exchange data and information. SAP evolution is the integration between systems via the Internet, and this is mainly what mySAP is for. SAP supports all the Internet standards, as we will see, and participates actively in all Internet initiatives. mySAP allows Internet process integration with new scenarios that will revolutionize the way of doing business today.

As has been mentioned several times, the Internet Business Framework is the technological foundation of mySAP.com, based on the previous SAP Business Framework Architecture and adding Web technology and standards. The following are some of these Web technologies, the protocols used, and the business standards.

  • HTML and HTTP. HTTP is the protocol used between a Web browser and a Web server to exchange documents. These documents are called HTML pages. We will see that mySAP supports complete access via a Web browser with HTTP or HTTPS (secure HTTP). You can find these and other Internet standards at the www.w3c.org Web site.
  • LDAP. LDAP (Light Directory Access Protocol) is an open protocol to define directory services and how to access them. These directories can be user directories or file directories. These services are already included in operating systems like Windows 2000. SAP supports LDAP integration with the LDAP

Connector in order to define the Web AS users or the HR employees centrally with LDAP support.

XML

The HTML language was so successful for exchanging information, between users (browsers) and machines (Web Server) that a similar method was developed for exchanging information between machines (systems). XML is a tag (meta) language similar to HTML used to describe documents in a predefined way, understandable for machines. XML and HTML are based on SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language), a formal definition on how to describe languages based on tags. The following is an example of the data part of an XML document:

XML (extendable Markup Language) defines how you can define document standards based on tags but does not define the documents themselves. The door is open in order that third parties define their own substandards for specific industries. XML is not only used for ERP systems; there are XML specifications for patients at hospitals, for exchanging information between libraries, and so on. You can find a list of the XML initiatives in different sectors at www.xml.org. Every XML document should have a DTD (Data Type Definition) at the beginning of the document. The DTD specifies which tags are allowed in the document data section and which parameters or values are allowed in the tags. The DTD could be in the document sent, or could be just an URL to a Web site where the DTD is stored, or in practice could be an agreement between both parties and is not sent.

DTD definition is based on the SGML definition and is not based on tags but on a formal language. In order to facilitate this, a new standard has arrived known as XML Schema. XML Schema is like the DTD as the definition of the allowed tags and parameters, but looks like XML as well. In the next example you can see an example of a DTD and a XML schema.

DTD
<!DOCTYPE order [
<!ELEMENT order (orderNo,
items*,>delDate)>
<!ELEMENT orderNo #PCDATA>
<!ELEMENT items (item+)>
<!ELEMENT item (description,
units,
price)>
...
<!ATTLIST price
currency (USD DEM) "USD">
]>

XML Schema

<elementType name="area">
<sequence>
<elementTypeRef name="city" minOccur="0" maxOccur="2"/>
<elementTypeRef name="country" minOccur="1" maxOccur="1"/>
</sequence>

SAP has participated in the XML world since the beginning. The SAP Business Connector allows SAP to send and receive documents via XML and standard communication protocols like HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, or e-mail. SAP has defined a SAPXML for documents based on the IDOC definition and a XML-BAPI in order to define how to call BAPIs with XML and get the result in XML (a similar initiative was done by Microsoft in order to call a COM object method via internet with SOAP, Simple Object Access Protocol). SAP has participation in xml.org, RosettaNet XML definition initiative, BizTalk Microsoft initiative, and supports also EDI ports of type XML in release 4.6.



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