Most companies do have environments from SAP and from Microsoft as well. This article lists and explains the different approaches for integration of applications from both environments.

About SAP NetWeaver® Business Intelligence (SAP BW)

SAP Netweaver Business Intelligence (SAP BI) is the name of the Business Intelligence, analytical, reporting and Data Warehousing (DW) solution which is one of the major enterprise software applications produced by SAP AG. It was originally named SAP BIW (Business Information Warehouse) or SAP BW, but is now known as "SAP NetWeaver BI". SAP BW (Business Warehouse) is used to integrate data for other sources in the enterprise and to transform information according to defined needs. Basically speaking it’s a typical Data Warehouse Solution.

SAP BI consists among other things of components for data management (Data Warehousing Workbench), data modeling capabilities, an analytical engine, a suite of front-end analytical tools referred to as Business Explorer (BEx), and operational tools used for importing transactional data into the system.

About Integration in SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS):

There are multiple sources describing an integration in Microsoft components. A listing is provided below:

About Integration in SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS):

Advantages:

  • Cost effective Reporting Platform with SQL Server Reporting Services
  • Cost effective Integration Platform for further processing and analytics of data with SQL Integration Services
  • Low Total Cost of Administration and lower Cost of Ownership
  • 2 vendor strategy

About integration with Excel:

Access to SAP works via ODBO. ODBO (OLE DB for OLAP) is a Microsoft's specification and an industry standard for multi-dimensional data processing which specifically designed to access to multi-dimensional data stores. The ODBO is the standard API (Application Programming Interface) that enables the exchange of data as well as metadata between an OLAP server and a client on a Microsoft Windows platform.

Advantages:

  • Excel is the most widely used analytical client. For building personal bi models access to SAP via Excel can provide advantages in the area of ad hoc model building and number comparisons
  • Most controllers work with Excel while SAP storing and providing information about inventory, supply chain management and other important figures
About SAP R3, 4.6c, ERP, ECC

The SAP ERP application is an integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. SAP R/3 is a client/server based application, utilizing a 3-tiered model. A presentation layer, or client, interfaces with the user. The application layer houses all the business-specific logic, and the database layer records and stores all the information about the system, including transactional and configuration data.

SAP R/3 functionality is structured using its own proprietary language called ABAP (Advanced Business Application Programming).  R/3 also offers a development environment where developers can either modify existing SAP code to modify existing functionality or develop their own functions, whether reports or complete transactional systems within the SAP framework.

SAP R/3 is arranged into distinct functional modules, covering the typical functions in place in an organization. The most widely used modules are Financials and Controlling (FICO), Human Resources (HR), Materials Management (MM), Sales & Distribution (SD), and Production Planning (PP).

Later R/3 Enterprise was replaced by ECC 6.0. An architectural change and integration happened between the two releases with 4.6c.

About Integration in SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS):

Microsoft SQL Server includes support for accessing SAP data by using the Microsoft .NET Data Provider for mySAP Business Suite. This provider lets you create a package that can connect to a mySAP Business Suite solution and then execute commands on the server. You can also create Reporting Services reports against a SAP server. The Microsoft .NET Data Provider for mySAP Business Suite is tested on SAP R/3 versions 4.6C and higher. Earlier versions of SAP R/3 are not supported.

Microsoft .NET Data Provider for mySAP Business Suite is part of the Microsoft BizTalk Adapter Pack 1.0 is certified by SAP as “Certified for SAP NetWeaver”. Microsoft .NET provider for SAP supports two types of commands: Execute RFCs/BAPIs and SELECT queries against SAP tables. This provider enables Table and BAPI access/execution via RFC (remote function calls) to the SAP Application Server tier.

About 3rd party integration tools:

As there are many SAP installations there is a market for 3rd party vendors of integration tools. Some of them are listed below:

  • Integration of SAP BW Release 3 and higher - Cubeware Cockpit Pro - Cubeware Connectivity for SAP® Solutions directly accesses SAP tables, BAPIs, SAP Business Warehouse - http://www.cubeware-international.com/
  • Integration of SAP R/3 and BI/BW Data – Access  R/3 Query Objects, R/3 Report Objects, R/3 BAPIs/RFCs, R/3 Table Views, BW ODS Queries, SAP BW InfoCubes, BW Cube Queries – http://www.erp-link.com

Roland Lenz