04 August, 2009

Book review: Microsoft .NET and SAP

Not long ago, a second book entirely dedicated to SAP/Microsoft interoperability was released. I previously promised that I would share my thoughts on the book when I had had a chance to go through it, so here they are. The book is authored by the guys over at the SAP Global Alliance Technology Team at Microsoft. Not many people have as much knowledge about SAP/Microsoft interoperability as these guys do, so they certainly have the in-depth understanding of both technology stacks required to write a book like this.

The first couple of chapters provide a broad overview of the technologies and tools in both stacks that are relevant in the context of interoperability. It also includes a historic outline of joint initiatives between SAP and Microsoft, from the early days of bringing SAP to the Windows platform up to recent developments such as the Portal Development Kit for .NET and the looming Duet product. This is quite an interesting read providing a nice 10,000-foot perspective before diving in deep.

The book then moves on to detailed walkthroughs, starting with exploring the different architectures for obtaining connectivity between .NET and SAP. You will learn about the SAP Connector for .NET, SAP Enterprise Services and the various incarnations of the BizTalk and WCF Adapters. This is arguably the most important chapter as it gives you the basic understanding of the technical architectures that underpin any SAP/Microsoft interoperability solution.

The five following chapters specialise in five different main areas: Business intelligence, SharePoint/NetWeaver integration, SharePoint Business Data Catalog (BDC), Office Business Applications (OBAs) and custom development. Each chapter provides detailed walkthroughs of how you get started with each individual style of solution. A lot of the content in these chapters is somewhat similar to what has already been published in various white papers, but the book is more thorough and includes lots of screenshots. Note, that depending on the versions your are running of the different products the screenshots in the book could vary quite a bit from what you have in your environment, but there is enough information in there for you to easily work it out anyway.

The last chapter is dedicated to security and identity management which is quite an important topic in this context. Given that obtaining the appropriate security architecture is a critical success factor and the relative complexity of the subject, you could probably have wished for a bit more content in this area. But then again, you could easily write a whole book on security if you wanted to cover it on a practical level. The security chapter in this book gives you a helpful introduction to the key components in play.

In summary, this book meets the expectations in terms of providing a comprehensive guide to SAP/Microsoft interoperability with enough depth in key areas to assist you with prototyping some solutions. Not only does this book give you some great tutorials if you are just getting started with interoperability, but it is also a useful reference you will regularly come back to down the track.


posdgis said...

Is Sharepoint required to implement most of the book?

Kristian Kalsing said...

No, SharePoint is not required to use most of the approaches covered in the book. In fact, only one of the chapters is focused on SharePoint.