As the new millennium approached, SAP began to talk about Java and its growing popularity. Relatively soon afterward, the company took the first step by offering Java 1.3 as part of NetWeaver version 6.20. Shortly after that, people began proclaiming that Java was the future, and there were even rumors that Java could replace the legacy Abap. According to TIOBE, Java has been the number-one most popular programming language in the world since the index was launched in 2001.
By contrast, Abap usually languishes at the bottom of the top 20. Aside from a few additional functionalities, however, Java possesses little in the way of advantages over Abap. Moreover, Abap has better syntax and programming technology. Crucially, what Java offers SAP is an alternative to the Abap language and a larger range of resources, developers, and possibilities. And so, over the years, SAP integrated Java into the R/3 runtime environment and AS NetWeaver, allowing Abap and Java to coexist within a single dual-stack system. This is also the form in which SolMan is offered.
End of the double stack
SolMan 7.2 is based on NetWeaver 7.4. However, the architecture differs in that the Solution Manager in the current version no longer runs on double-stack architecture. Instead, the two stacks (Abap and Java) run on two independent systems. In addition, the NetWeaver 7.4 platform supports the use of Hana as a database, which makes it possible to use Solution Manager in conjunction with a Hana DB.
However, these two basic architectural differences present new challenges, and indeed lots of new opportunities. With the NetWeaver 7.2 stack, SAP had already planned and introduced stack separation, with the corresponding isolation of one technology per system. Consequently, double-stack solutions were no longer offered in releases as of NetWeaver 7.0. In NetWeaver 7.0, there were other products used by both Abap and Java. Business Warehouse and Process Integration have already been separated for some time. Solution Manager is the last product in the series that has to undertake the migration from NetWeaver 7.0 to NetWeaver 7.4.
Customers and end users of SolMan 7.1 are advised to carry out the migration as soon as possible, because standard maintenance will cease for NetWeaver 7.0. The reasons for this discontinuation of maintenance are various. On top of the fact that the maintenance packages are very costly and time-consuming for SAP, there is the question of the Java 4 runtime environment, which Oracle is no longer further developing – and therefore no longer supporting either.
Since NetWeaver 7.1, SAP has been using its own standard for a Java runtime environment, called SAPJVM, which is delivered as standard as part of the core. Accordingly, with the end of NetWeaver 7.0, SAP is taking a large step toward being able to offer software and applications from a single source. Beyond this, the focus is on reducing dependencies on the competition and on designing and using the company’s own internal interfaces.
As already mentioned, a major advantage in the architecture of NetWeaver 7.4 is that it supports the Hana database. The NetWeaver release supports all databases, including of course the established providers of relational database architectures, but also the in-memory DB architecture such as offered in the Hana DB and Oracle. As SolMan 7.2 can be used with Hana, it can benefit from increased performance. But it is also possible to continue using an Oracle database.
In the new NetWeaver 7.4 version, SolMan 7.2 is thus ideally equipped for Hana, as well as for the cloud, Fiori, SAPUI5, and mobile technology. Accordingly, it forms the foundation for the Business Suite powered by Hana. With further technologies such as NetWeaver Gateway Support, it is possible to deploy all applications and dashboards on a variety of platforms.
At the same time, all well-established platforms are supported, including Apple iOS, Google Android, and Microsoft Windows Phone 8 and higher. Thanks to the most important new feature – its supporting of Hana – data can be retrieved and processed virtually in real time using this in-memory database, which boosts SolMan 7.2’s performance significantly.
According to SAP, the future of the database will be wholly bound up with Hana. SAP has agreed to maintain existing SAP products and all databases up to 2025. As part of Hana-DB-optimized products, such as the S/4 Hana suite, SAP uses NetWeaver 7.5, which is now available only as a Unicode variant. SAP is focusing here on S/4 Hana, the Internet of Things, and SAP Fiori performance optimizations.
With the addition of a Java 8 runtime environment in NetWeaver 7.5, the use of Java-based hubs such as SAP Enterprise Portal, SAP Process Orchestration, and SAP Business Process Management is supported. Through the direct communication between machine sensors using TCP/IP support and via Abap using Abap Channels, Net-Weaver 7.5 paves the way for Industry 4.0 scenarios. This amalgamation of data about manufacturing units and processes in the real world facilitates real-time evaluation across the entire value chain. Migrating SolMan from Version 7.1 to 7.2 involves extensive restructuring.
The technical level is characterized above all by a stack split and includes the separation/transfer of the Java entity from the double-stack system to its own single-stack system. SAP introduced this process with NetWeaver 7.3, where it was originally intended for the dual-stack split of PI landscapes. At the application level, preparation work and rework are both required with regard to content activation. These steps, which are divided into preparation, upgrade, and activation, are necessary because, among other things, the Solution Documentation scenario in SolMan 7.2 has been redesigned from scratch. Scenarios such as Change Request Management, Project Management, Automated Testing, and Business Process Monitoring also require content activation.
In the initial step, scoping is used to determine which scenarios are affected by the migration and therefore which notes and configurations have to be implemented and executed in the specially created PREPARE_ACTIVATION transaction. Then the actual upgrade itself of Solution Manager to 7.2 takes place. After that, the final step – activation – is carried out in SOLMAN_SET-UP. Because of all the work this entails, it is recommended that users carry out a reimplementation of the SAP system.
Known as a greenfield approach, this allows customers to get rid of legacy systems and get the maximum out of the software’s new functions. But if customers want to retain their own adaptations, for example, the brownfield approach offers an alternative transformation of the existing landscape into a new one in stages.
And so, customers receive a SolMan comprising two systems which are fundamentally different in terms of their technical make-ups. Abap still represents the core of the SAP Business Suite and handles the management of transaction processing. Once upon a time, Java was also used in development of the user interface, but now it merely facilitates the interface processing functionality for the SMD agents, specifically in the case of Solution Manager.
Accordingly, SAP will continue to use Abap in its NetWeaver architecture in the future and will be loath to deviate from it. A further indicator of this approach is a new product called Focused Run, which is derived from SolMan, but does not have a single Java entity.
Focused Run is based completely on Abap and NetWeaver 7.5 and uses Hana exclusively as the database. Communication for the new simple diagnostics agents now runs only via HTTP, straight to Abap, which makes it possible to ease the communication burden, as each SMD agent in the conventional Solution Manager acts like an independent user as regards utilization.
Partly due to the old technical infrastructure, this led to some customers with several thousand agents experiencing sharp drops in performance or even complete breakdowns of the Java entity. At the time, few could have guessed the extent to which Solution Manager would be used. However, this does not mean that SAP is abandoning Java completely in the NetWeaver sphere.