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Why Do We Need SAP NetWeaver Portal

One of the first few questions that needs to be answered during a portal implementation is how do we stand to benefit by implementing a portal? Is it really important to use a portal, or is it something that can be avoided? A portal provides a means by which we can improve the business efficiency of a process. For example, by implementing a portal, a company can provide the right information to the right person at the right time. Based on this information, the person can make a decision that is not only correct, but also quick.

Note : By implementing an enterprise portal, you can provide the right information in the right format to the right person at the right time.

The portal provides the required information in one place. Not only does the portal increase the productivity of an employee, it also reduces the turnaround time of a given business process. By implementing a portal, a customer service representative can quickly attend to customer complaints, or a sales representative can place an order at a customer site and answer customer inquiries regarding pricing.

Let us now discuss some of the differentiating features of an enterprise portal and why is it so important for an organization to implement it.

Increased Productivity

The SAP NetWeaver Portal tries to resolve some of the complex issues that an IT organization faces while trying to integrate its existing applications and information sources. From a purely business standpoint, the SAP NetWeaver Portal is able to provide tremendous business value by providing the right information to the right user at the right time.

By providing role-based content and by using iView techniques, the SAP NetWeaver Portal ensures that the end user sees only the information that he or she is supposed to see and ensures that the information is in the appropriate format. For example, the portal makes it possible for a sales manager to look at the sales performance of her sales reps or the sales performance for her sales territories. Or a marketing manager can look at how well his different campaigns have performed and identify potential sales opportunities or leads. In the same way, customer representatives can quickly address customer complaints because all the information is located in one place.

Info SAP NetWeaver Portal increases the productivity of employees and helps improve the efficiency of the different business processes like processing sales orders, responding to customer complaints, and so on.

Business Packages: A Jump start to Implementation

One of the distinguishing features of SAP NetWeaver Portal as compared to other portals is the concept of business packages. Business packages are collections of iViews, which are grouped together into work sets. The work sets are based on tasks that are likely to be executed by a user in his or her day-to-day job. The business packages are based on best practices and address three groups of users: users, managers, and specialists.

Tip Business packages come with ready made content and hence provide a jump start for implementing applications on the portal.

The business package for users consists of iViews that provide internal and external news, travel information, information on people, and other self services. The business package for managers consists of work sets that deal with people management and budget management. This is mainly addressed toward team leads, project leads, and department heads. Using the people management functionality, team leads can assess the performance of their teams. Using the budget management functionality, managers can make sure that the costs are managed properly. Some examples of people management work sets are team overview, compensation planning, recruiting, and so on. Examples for budget management are cost center monitors, budget alerts, and queries for training and travel budgets. Business packages also provide alert functionality, where the user can receive notifications on the portal whenever a customer’s payments are overdue or when inventory levels go below a certain level.

Portal Technology: Open Industry Standards

The technological platform on which the portal is built is based on open industry web service standards such as eXtensible Markup Language (XML), Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), Web Services Description Language (WSDL), Universal Description Discovery and Integration protocol (UDDI), Java Connector Architecture, and Java Authentication and Authorization Service (JAAS). It is a platform independent solution that can work on most of the database/operating system combinations. The fact that the portal is installed on the Java stack of the web application server helps you tap into all the potential benefits of Java. With every new version of the enterprise portal, it has also become so much easier to install due to the tighter integration of the portal software components as well as the increased sophistication and usability of the SAP inst software used to install SAP solutions.

Integration with Applications

One of the other major reasons why companies implement the SAP NetWeaver Portal is because it is very effective in integrating existing legacy and other back end systems.

Info Using SAP’s iView technology, you can literally extract data from any back end system.

Usually, over a number of years, companies implement IT solutions using various technologies, which, after some time, become a Herculean task to integrate. When dealing with IT solutions, complex issues arise due to multiple vendors, numerous point-to-point integration systems, communication protocols, and proprietary industry standards. Using SAP’s NetWeaver portal, solutions implemented using .Net and IBM WebSphere can be integrated into the SAP NetWeaver portal landscape. SAP NetWeaver Portal also provides drag and relate functionality that helps users take a piece of information from one application and drag and drop it into another iView to retrieve information from another application. For example, users can drag the customer number from a sales order iView and drop it into another iView that fetches customer information. The sales order iView could be fetching data from an SAP R/3 system, while the customer data could potentially come from an SQL database iView or a Business Information Warehouse (BW)–based iView.

The ability to integrate with multiple technologies and application components from multiple vendors often becomes a major factor when a company decides to implement a global portal system to enable end-to-end collaborative business processes.

Tip SAP NetWeaver Portal results in lower total cost of ownership because you can leverage the existing skill sets as well as the IT infrastructure that supports those solutions.

SAP’s NetWeaver Technology Stack

SAP NetWeaver is the building block for almost all SAP applications and is composed of four layers:

  • People integration layer
  • Information integration layer
  • Process integration layer
  • Application platform

The portal, along with other building blocks such as multi-channel access and collaboration, form the people integration layer. The scope of the people integration layer is to bring together all the information and the functions that an employee needs to perform his or her work very efficiently. The collaboration management piece of the portal provides collaboration rooms and real-time tools such as shared e-mail, discussion threads, team calendars, and document stores that enable teams to work together.
The information integration layer is about providing access to both structured and unstructured information in the company. The Business Information Warehouse, KM, and Master Data Management (MDM) are major building blocks of this layer

In the process integration layer, the SAP Exchange Infrastructure (XI) plays a major role in enabling business processes to run across system boundaries in heterogeneous landscapes. The application platform has both Advanced Business Application Programming (ABAP) and Java runtimes and is actually an extension of the BASIS (SAP System Administration) layer with greater focus on web-enabling applications and services. It consists of the SAP NetWeaver Application Server (AS) that comprises a Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition (J2EE) engine and a database. It provides support for standards such as Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), HTTP over SSL (HTTPS), Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), single sign-on (SSO), World Wide Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV), X.509, HyperText Markup Language (HTML), XML, Unicode, Wireless Markup Language (WML), and
so on. The SAP NetWeaver Portal, by virtue of being installed on top of the NetWeaver AS, enjoys all the benefits that an SAP NetWeaver AS provides.

SAP’s NetWeaver Product Strategy

The SAP NetWeaver Portal is one of the building blocks in making an integrated enterprise a reality. It helps to bring together all the different applications such as SAP applications, customer relationship management (CRM), supply chain management (SCM), product lifecycle management (PLM), and so on; various data sources; and even different business organizations. It is a central part of SAP’s NetWeaver product strategy.

Single Point of Access

Today’s world of e-business requires an increasing need to provide a single point of access to various business partners such as customers, suppliers, partners, and employees. It acts as an interface not only to your own company’s applications, but also to your business partners’ applications and third-party Internet services.

Portal Platform: Run time Environment

The portal platform is the main component that allows you to create a role-based portal. The portal platform is based upon the portal run time, which is made up of portal components and services. The portal components and services together form the development and run time environment for the portal.

Tip A role-based portal helps to bring together data from various applications and services for various user groups using the iView technology.

Portal Security

Let us now take a look at the various security implementations possible in the portal from an application and network standpoint. The portal allows for integrated user management by enabling the User Management Engine (UME) to store data across various repositories such as the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) and SAP R/3 systems as well as databases such as the SQL Server and MaxDB. It supports a number of authentication mechanisms such as client certificates, user ID/PW (identification and password), SAP logon tickets, basic authentication, Windows-based NTLM authentication, and header variables, as well as third-party authentication. It enables SSO for SAP as well as non-SAP applications, thus providing end users the ability to get data from back end systems without the need to log on every time a new back end system is accessed.

Tip SSO can be used in the portal to integrate both SAP and non-SAP applications.

The portal has a permission-based authorization model as well as concepts such as UME actions and security zones to implement application security. This will allow only certain users to administer data and allows data to be displayed to end users. Delegated user administration provides only certain administrators the ability to maintain user administration for a specific group of users based upon the company to which they belong.

Tip Delegated user administration is useful for managing very large portal implementations.

The portal architecture allows setting up a network architecture that takes into consideration all the security requirements for the Internet scenario as well as the data integrity requirements when dealing with enterprise class applications such as SAP. Using Secure Network Communication (SNC), you can encrypt the sensitive information that flows between the web server, the portal server, and the back end systems.

Portal Development Environment

The portal provides portal developers with the portal development kit that helps them to create custom portal applications using technologies such as portal components, portal services, HTMLBusiness for Java (HTMLB), JSP DynPage, web services, JSP, and so on. Portal administrators and developers can create iViews, pages, layouts, roles, work sets, and other features using the portal content developer studio, and thus the PCD serves as the development environment for the portal.


You can see that portals enable an organization to focus on streamlining processes by bringing together applications and the information required to complete a task. This results in increased productivity, better customer service, and process efficiency.


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