02 February, 2009

New white paper on using the SharePoint BDC to access SAP data

A new white paper has just been released on TechNet: Integrating SAP data by using the Business Data Catalog. The white paper has step-by-step guidelines for exposing standard BAPIs in SAP as web services and configuring the BDC in SharePoint to consume those.

The white paper does not cover creating the actual application definition file which, in my opinion, is the challenging bit when using standard SAP BAPIs. The inout parameters that BAPIs make extensive use of are quite tricky to deal with when building the application definition.

There are basically two approaches to providing SAP web services for the SharePoint BDC:

  • Follow the approach of the white paper above and only expose standard BAPIs as web services. The great advantage of this is that no ABAP development is required. All you have to do on the SAP side of things is some relatively basic configuration. But you will be limited to what is available through BAPIs and authoring the application definition file can be challenging. However, application definitions should not vary much from system to system, so sharing these on the web could solve this over time.
  • Alternatively you can go down the path of developing custom ABAP web services as suggested in a previous post. This gives you full flexibility in terms of the data you can provide and because the web services are designed for the BDC, the application definition files could even be generated automatically.

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