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SAP NetWeaver Process Integration v7.1: a new architecture and enhanced SOA capabilities

by Jean-Jacques Dubray on Aug 09, 2007 |

SAP is ramping up for the launch of its latest version of the SAP NetWeaver Process Integration platform. Product Manager Sindhu Gangadharan said SAP NWPI v7.1 will be available next month. This platform is designed to cover all integration needs for SAP or non SAP customers.

SAP is the third major software vendor, after IBM and Oracle, that has architected a business process platform on top of an ESB or, as it is the case for SAP, with ESB like capabilities. In an interview with Paul Read, Sindhu explains that SAP does not intend to provide a separate ESB offering. A lot of the capabilities provided by an ESB come with NWPI. Interestingly, the new architecture allows “adapter” to “adapter” communication, bypassing any integration server. This confirms the current trend in the industry in “distributing” ESB capabilities onto the edges, at the services activation layer, rather than forcing all interactions to go through a central piece of infrastructure. Centralized elements of the architecture are only involved when they add value to the interaction (e.g. a Registry). Architecturally, NWPI establishes a strong coupling between BPM and SOA as services are always designed to be part of a business process. This is further reinforced by SAP's SOA methodology. Other key components of SAP's model include process components and business objects.

Sindhu details the new functionality provided by NWPI v7.1:

  • A new Enterprise Services Repository which can be used both at design time and run time. The repository is "high volume ready" and supports UDDI v3.0. The repository implements governance processes and offer a central visibility of the services and their artifacts. The repository is of course loaded with SAP’s enterprise services classification and enterprise services definitions.
  • Full support for the latest web services standards including WS-Policy, WS-TX and support for WS-ReliableMessaging (WS-RM).
  • Support for incoming message validation using XML Schema
  • Support for Events which are a key element of the product. It introduces the notion of Global Events available across all processes to be reacted upon.
  • Message bulking for asynchronous invocations has been introduced which helps throughput by a factor of 3 to 4.
  • Support for principal propagation which is a pre-requisite for building composite applications. Alexander Bunsschuh explains in his blog how this works. Another good reference on Principal Propagation using SAML can be found here.
NWPI v7.1 is built on a JEE 5 foundation which helps memory consumption. However, it appears that NWPI does not support WS-BPEL (other than as an import format), BPEL4PEOPLE, SCA or SDO just yet.

In parallel, SAP launched the NWPI site on SDN this week.

Hans Diepstraten from the CBDI Forum commented that:

“Although SAP has been talking about Enterprise SOA for years by now, one of the main challenges for SAP always was the realization of a true Process Integration Layer. It looks like SAP is currently accelerating its move into Enterprise SOA.”

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