SAP ERP Software: Evolution


Evolution of SAP ERP Software
Source of Image: http://help.sap.com/
We need to talk in terms of SAP Releases. Let us start with SAP R/3 phase in the evolution of SAP ERP software discussed there. Referring to the different releases may be difficult in the beginning but you will benefit greatly by going beyond this small pain area to broaden our understanding of the SAP ERP software. And the figure above will guide us going forward.



The oldest SAP release I have heard of from the people who are working in SAP for a long time is SAP 3.0. I started working with SAP 4.6c. And the latest release underway at the time of writing this matter is SAP ECC 7.0.

SAP Basis

Up to Release 4.6c, SAP ERP software was known as SAP R/3 on account of its 3-tier architecture. SAP R/3 was a stand-alone software founded on the technological base called "SAP Basis". SAP Basis supported the application level comprising of business functions across the areas of Financials / Accounting, Logistics and Human Resources (or Human Capital Management as SAP prefers to call it now in its product offering). Logistics include applications like Materials Management, Production Planning, Sales, etc. These applications interacted with each other through SAP Basis.

SAP Basis
Source of Image: http://help.sap.com/

Let us take the analogy of a personal computer (PC) to dig more into it. Various applications like Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader, etc. can be compared with SAP Basis which allows you to perform your tasks. The hard disk can be compared to the Database behind the SAP system which may be from any database vendor.

In simple words, SAP Basis was the underlying technology which made the SAP software work. It also allowed the (limited) access to the outside world through well-defined interfaces and protocols.

A major change happened with the release of SAP 4.7EE or Enterprise Edition. SAP Basis was enhanced to Web Application Server, abbreviated as Web AS. The open-standard based SAP web application server was the natural evolution of SAP Basis technology. It allowed the SAP system to be web-enabled.

mySAP ERP

In 2003, SAP offered mySAP ERP Edition 2003 – a logical further development of SAP R/3 – based on SAP Netweaver technology.

SAP Netweaver goes beyond the technological boundaries around different software solutions an enterprise is running and helps in integrating these solutions - SAP and non-SAP. SAP Web Application Server is a component in the Netweaver platform.

mySAP ERP software included additional components leveraging the open standard based and web-enabled architecture of SAP Netweaver. These solutions include Employee Self Services (ESS), Manager Self Services(MSS), E-Recruitment, Learning Solutions (LSO), Strategic Enterprise Management (SAP SEM), etc.

SAP Netweaver

SAP Netweaver platform came with its own set of technical components like SAP Enterprise Portal (EP), SAP BW, SAP Exchange Infrastructure (SAP XI), etc. It integrated (i) people through collaboration, (ii) information through tools for Business Intelligence and Knowledge Management, and (iii) business processes through integration tools like SAP XI.

mySAP ERP on SAP Netweaver platformSource of Image: http://help.sap.com/

mySAP ERP Edition 2004

mySAP ERP Edition 2004 replaced SAP R/3 Enterprise with SAP ERP Central Component (SAP ECC). This involved great architectural changes. One of major benefits was simplified access to the users. SAP ECC leveraged the technical capabilities of SAP Netweaver. Using SAP Enterprise Portal (SAP EP), it was possible to provide unified access to the user. It was no longer mandatory to have SAP GUI application for all the users. Only users performing tasks requiring SAP GUI, can work from workstations installed with SAP GUI application. For other functions, it was possible for SAP users to access the SAP system using the universal internet browser application.

Users could monitor and carry out their business functions at the click of the mouse as per their roles. The roles defined the system access a user was required to have. All employees had access to self-services like applying for leave unlike earlier when limited users had access to SAP using systems installed with SAP GUI and the HR person had to feed the requests for the sub-ordinates into the system. This simplified such processes and enhanced overall performance.

SAP ECC also meant to reduce operational costs. The components – SAP Strategic Enterprise Management (SAP SEM), SAP Business Warehousing (SAP BW) and Internet Transaction Server (ITS) – all of which were separate from SAP R/3 in the SAP Enterprise Edition were merged together and could run in one instance of application server.

The capabilities were further enhanced in SAP ERP Central Component (ECC) 6.0 in SAP ERP Edition 2005. SAP ERP Software is one business solution from the SAP Business Suite placed alongside others and is aimed at meeting the classical ERP requirements of its customers.

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