SAP Enterprise Portal SAP BASIS

The SAP Enterprise Portal (SAP EP) is the core SAP NetWeaver component from the point of view of the role-based user access to a world of applications and Web services. At the time of the SAP NetWeaver '04 release, the SAP Portal solution is now being called SAP Enterprise Portal 6.0 on Web AS 6.40 (SAP EP 6.0 on Web AS 6.40). Main and basic capabilities of the SAP Portal include the Portal Infrastructure, Knowledge Management, and Collaboration.

The SAP Enterprise Portal is designed to provide standardized, role-based access to all relevant information and functions throughout the enterprise. It is the user's central point of entry into the mySAP Business Suite solutions or other applications. As it is usual with Web-based portals, the SAP Enterprise Portal is based on a conventional Web server, which can be provided by different vendor technologies, the most popular being the ones by Microsoft or Apache.

Before the SAP Web Application Server, Web connectivity for SAP solutions was achieved via SAP Internet Transaction Server (SAP ITS). As with Web AS 6.40, SAP ITS is integrated. In order to reference data from diverse sources, such as applications or databases, the SAP Enterprise Portal features a unification server, which includes a collaboration component, supporting real-time collaboration among teams and communities via virtual rooms and different collaboration tools. As one of the strategic and user centric components of SAP NetWeaver, the SAP Enterprise Portal provides key capabilities such as Portal Infrastructure, Knowledge Management, and Collaboration, all completely based on open technology and standards. After the release of the SAP Enterprise Portal 6.0, after the SP3, SAP included many new technical features to improve the management, the construction, and the performance of the Portal, such as an improved load balancing and clustering architecture, extended platform support, new connectors, performance optimization, and enhanced portal development kits.

SAP Enterprise Portal consists of the following:

  • The Portal Platform, which includes all the components and tools to build the portal:
    • iView technology
    • Unification technology
    • Users and roles management
  • The Knowledge Management Platform, which provides the mechanism to access the information repositories of a company, and whose major functional areas are as follows:
    • Content management
    • Search and classification (TREX)
    • CollaborationPredefined content and tools for creating content

The portal can be customized for different types of users by creating interfaces for the various roles. Dedicated interfaces help the users to complete both their general tasks, as well as those specific to their professional roles. To speed up the process of customizing the portal for each user, SAP provides predefined content that has been packaged, tested, and certified by SAP. This content is bundled in business packages. In addition to the business packages, SAP provides a number of tools that customers can use to enhance and customize content, including tools for end users, for content administrators, for business users with no coding experience, and for professional programmers.

Figure shows an overview of the SAP Enterprise Portal architecture in a typical example of connecting with different applications and sources of information.

Architecture of SAP Enterprise Portal In one scenario

Architecture of SAP Enterprise Portal In one scenario

Let's briefly review in the next sections the main components and features of the elements of the SAP Enterprise Portal, but let's start with the iViews.

iViews

iViews (from Integrated Views) are the basic and most important components or building blocks for the portals. iViews are defined as the logical portal content building blocks representing an application or a part thereof. There are many standard iViews, but users have the option to create new customized iViews using different technologies such as Java, .NET, XML, BSPs, and others. iViews let you build and extend the portal to many available information and applications sources, regardless of where they may be stored. The sources for iViews can be

  • ERP systems, such as SAP R/3 or mySAP ERP
  • Legacy or custom developed applications
  • Business Intelligence solutions, such as BW
  • CRM systems
  • E-mail
  • Web sites
  • File systems and intranets
  • Collaboration tools
  • iViews are not static links that retrieve data, but they also allow special links or searching capabilities for displaying related information or running related transactions or applications. iViews are generally based on portal components, which are the pieces of code (typically written in Java) that provide the iView its functionality and ability to display specific content. Each iView comprises a set of properties, which are used at run time to parameterize the portal component on which the iView is based. The properties of an iView provide the iView with its unique personalized behavior. iViews can be based on other iViews, acting as templates, and therefore inheriting properties. At design time, iViews are selectively distributed to end users through portal roles in the following manner:
  • iView are assigned to portal pages. In turn, pages can be assigned to worksets or user roles (one or many). Users will have access to all iViews contained in the pages to which they have authorization (they have been granted access).
  • iViews can also be directly assigned to a user role or workset, and not using pages. iViews assigned directly to roles are known as full-page application iViews.

SAP provides many standard and default iViews with the SAP Enterprise Portal, and there is also a large catalog of iViews provided with SAP Business Packages.

The Portal Platform

The Portal Platform includes those components and tools that are necessary to build a portal, including the following:

  • iView technology, for creating and administering iViews. You can either use standard iViews delivered by SAP or create your own iViews, either by programming them or by using the portal content creation tools.
  • Unification technology includes services for resolving relations between business objects of back-end systems.
  • User Role Management, for creating user roles that provide access to portal pages for the users or user groups.

The Knowledge Management Platform

SAP Knowledge Warehouse (SAP KW) delivers the technical infrastructure you need to set up and manage your own enterprise-specific knowledge base in the areas of documentation, training, and manuals in SAP Enterprise Portal. For project teams and end users, SAP KW streamlines training and business processes. In addition, the possibility to reuse, supplement, and continually update SAP content offers great savings potential. The Knowledge Management platform provides access to an organization's unstructured information (documents). The information may reside in various repositories that can be connected to the portal by means of components called repository managers. Some repository managers are delivered by SAP; other repository managers can be developed based on open APIs. The functions of the KM platform can be exposed to the documents in all connected repositories, given that the respective repository manager allows it. The major functional areas of KM are as follows:

  • Content Management, which supports the entire life cycle of documents, including the authoring, storage, management, and display of documents. It also manages the connection between document repositories and the portal and provides collaborative functions such as feedback, rating, and subscription. The content exchange service is also used to import documents to KM.
  • Search and Classification (TREX), which processes search queries on free-text or attributes and provides automatic classification in taxonomies and text mining. Search and Classification is also used in other building blocks of SAP NetWeaver such as SAP Business Intelligence.

Collaboration

Collaboration closes the communication gap between users, or teams of users, by providing real-time collaboration (such as application sharing, chat, instant messaging) and asynchronous collaboration capabilities (such as tasks, calendaring, discussions). Collaboration Rooms offer a virtual work environment for teams or communities. These Collaboration Rooms can be populated with predefined content and services that may already be available within SAP Enterprise Portal. As a flexible integration framework for groupware (such as Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Notes) and synchronous collaboration applications, they let customers reuse and integrate existing assets.

Predefined Content and Content Tools

Predefined content and tools for creating and managing content complete the portal offering by helping to speed up the portal implementation and support its maintenance and continued improvement. The content is bundled in business packages, and tools for creation and support are as follows:

  • Business packages based on SAP solutions that provide content for over 100 roles
  • Business packages based on industry-specific queries for inclusion in customer content scenarios
  • Business packages based on third-party vendor solutions, to leverage existing investments
  • Personalization tools for end users
  • A comprehensive environment for content managers for creating, managing, and deploying content
  • A visual modeling tool for allowing business users to create content based on SAP R/3 transactions, without the need to write codeA portal development kit to support professional Java and .NET programmers

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