Consume SAP

The purpose of this post is to describe the general architecture for consuming data from an SAP system and by doing that, illustrate that it could basically be any system as long as it delivers the data in an OData format.

Let's take any easy example to illustrate the ideas. Imagine that we would like to represent sales figures by business partners in different dimensions. From a VR perspective the views we would want to create would be:

  • (aggregated figures) Show sales volume, general risk and potential for business partners.
  • (specific transactional figures) Show sales volume by sales transaction.

    We could serve this data straight from an operational (live) SAP system through OData based on Netweaver Gateway, implying a direct VR view on the data as it is currently productively available (no time delay). With the recent shift to HANA, performance of the extraction should be milliseconds at most (right??). Let's draw it up in an architectural picture that is lovingly simple:

    Easy enough so far. What we need now is a definition of the OData service, describing entities and associations, attributes and cardinalities, navigational properties and … (again, IT can be so lovingly easy when looking at the solution): an EDMX model no less:

    on it's way

    Now that we have the model, the rest is down to NW Gateway to deliver the content. For the SAP boys and girls among us, that is a joy in itself. One imports the EDMX model, generates the service, implements the entity methods, addresses the API and wham!

    on it's way

    This provides us with the data and the service to get to it. Now we have to consume it, generate some objects from it and walk among it in VR (that’s what the other blog posts are about):

    on it's way

    In this case I represented the sales volume of business partners. Every bar represents a business partner, the "sales volume" is shown as the height of the bar, the color indicates the "risk". The position shows the "potential" in 3 categories. I have the bars rise from a pool because it looks really cool in virtual reality.

    For those thinking “to hell with this SAP backend!”, it’s pretty easy to come to the conclusion that we really only need the OData service to get started. Host it from any system. As long as we can address it and it gets us our data in a fast and structured way, we’re merrily on our way.

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