For years organisations have been scratching their heads trying to figure out how to provide collaboration capabilities on data held within SAP systems.
Many have developed custom solutions and achieved mixed results. We have also seen the rise of Duet 1.x from Microsoft and SAP that provided 11 specific solutions that surfaced data residing in SAP via Microsoft Office. These were good solutions but limited due to their lack of extensibility.
Hence the excitement over Duet Enterprise and the benefits that have been realised are exactly what everyone has been looking for. InfoSys Technologies have just released a case study with Microsoft that discusses their Duet Enterprise project and it is an interesting read. Particularly the benefits realised:
- Minimal Development Effort
How can these benefits be real?
Well, to start with, Duet Enterprise provides all the relevant plumbing to blend both SAP and SharePoint “Platforms”. SAP and Microsoft position Duet Enterprise as the “Foundation” layer between the two platforms.
Architecturally speaking the Duet Enterprise Add-on’s must be installed on SAP Netweaver 7.02 Servers and the SharePoint 2010 Farm. The SAP Netweaver 7.02 Servers work as the gateway to the SAP backend systems and can actually support any version of SAP system. The Duet Enterprise is built on SharePoint 2010 and makes use of the Business Connectivity Services that enables the full Create Read Update Delete (CRUD) operations to data residing on external systems. The options for user experience are the same for any SharePoint 2010 solution; Mobile, Office or a Browser. There are no SAP or Duet Enterprise clients.
Ok, but what does this do?
This provides organisations with a jointly supported, (Microsoft and SAP) technical approach and OOB tools to address the common challenges faced when integrating SAP systems. Such as;
Authentication: Using Claims-Based authentication to ensure SSO is available between SharePoint 2010 sites and SAP backend systems.
Authorisation: Able to secure objects in SharePoint using SAP Roles, supporting concepts such a Manager seeing more than an employee.
Monitoring: Duet Enterprise SharePoint Health Rules are provided to proactively monitor your Duet Enterprise solutions. Also available are Duet Enterprise Management Pack for System Centre Operations Manager, a quick video here shows it in action.
It is also worth taking a look at the Duet Enterprise Architecture for more information.
These are just some of the behind the scenes aspects of Duet Enterprise that essentially provide a jump start in any SAP/SharePoint integration project. However, there is also another layer that exemplifies how data from SAP can be surfaced through SharePoint 2010 and Office 2010. (Office 2010 isn’t a pre-req but certainly a better experience!).
Currently included are;
- Duet Enterprise Workflow
Duet Enterprise Profile
Duet Enterprise Collaboration
Duet Enterprise Sites
Duet Enterprise Reporting
All of this provide a way to jump start development of a solution that can be used OOB or easily extended to suit specific requirements. The result here is that organisations are able to surface data typically locked away in backend SAP systems to a much wider audience and in an inexpensive way. I may blog on what each of these are in the future and how to extend them.
Once deployed, IT departments have a “Foundation” in place to support future extensibility. Once users start seeing what is possible I fully expect the flood gates to open with requests for composite applications.
What else do you get?
- Long-term product roadmap commitment from SAP and Microsoft
- Platform for innovation: broad ecosystem of ISV and service partners offering Business Pack Solutions
- Partner solutions/apps certified by SAP