05 March, 2010

Duet Enterprise core capabilities

It is exciting we are finally starting to get some information on the upcoming Duet Enterprise product, bringing SAP to SharePoint and Office. In a recent briefing by the product team, a lot of the rumours we have all been hearing from various sources were finally confirmed. The potential of the product is starting to take shape and so far it is all looking pretty good. The major hurdles that have caused the limited success of the previous versions seem to have been addressed.

Duet Enterprise is not only a complete revamp of the technical architecture but more importantly, what is being delivered is very different of nature. The focus is no longer on delivering the pre-canned scenarios we know from Duet 1.0 and 1.5 but rather on delivering a platform of core capabilities that will reduce time-to-value when building our own SAP/SharePoint solutions. Actual vertical business scenarios will follow down the track and to a large extend be developed by partners that have the necessary functional expertise in various industries.

The SharePoint platform delivers capabilities providing a foundation for building business collaboration solutions. These capabilities include content management, search, workflow, business intelligence and more. Following the same concept, Duet Enterprise will deliver core capabilities for bringing SAP data into the everyday productivity and collaboration platform comprising SharePoint and Office. Duet Enterprise will provide the sets of core capabilities described below.

NOTE! This information is based on pre-release briefings by SAP and Microsoft. The exact nature of the core capabilities of the product may change prior to its release.

Enterprise Collaboration

With Enterprise Collaboration we can easily create collaboration sites around business entities in SAP. These sites can provide a 360 degree view of a customer, a vendor or any other business data from SAP. The site may display content mashed up from various sources, not just from SAP. To visualise this idea, have a look at my slide deck on enterprise mashups (12-15) from a presentation last year.

The much improved capabilities of the Business Connectivity Services (BCS) in SharePoint 2010, will further promote SharePoint’s potential as a platform for enterprise mashups. And with Duet Enterprise we get the interoperability-in-a-box required to cost-effectively include SAP data in those mashups.

Contextual Workflow

The main promise of Duet is to break down the Chinese Wall and link the worlds of SAP and Microsoft. With Contextual Workflow we will be able to take a more holistic view of business processes. The reality is that the highly structured transaction-oriented business processes in SAP often have certain sections where information workers are required to perform work in the more collaboration-oriented tools provided by Microsoft.

Contextual Workflow allows us to surface SAP workflow tasks in SharePoint and Outlook. Information workers can manage and monitor their SAP workflow tasks as part of their SharePoint and Office tasks. Utilising SharePoint workflow, ad hoc collaboration can be initiated around an SAP workflow task without losing the link to the back-end system. In other words, an SAP workflow can be extended within SharePoint to cover the unstructured part of a process.

Two Worlds

Duet Enterprise Profile

The Duet Enterprise Profile extends the standard SharePoint user profiles (My Sites) with HR data coming from SAP. Things like job title, department and location is imported from the source-of-truth in the SAP system. Many companies are already doing this, but with Duet Enterprise it is an out-of-the-box feature.

The uptake of SharePoint My Sites is still fairly limited but this is a huge investment area in the upcoming SharePoint 2010 release. We will see extensive social networking capabilities built around the user profiles and the rich Silverlight-based controls for browsing the organisation hierarchy will become even more attractive with HR data sourced from SAP.

Federated Search

Federated Search gives information workers one single interface for searching for both collaborative content in SharePoint and business data in SAP. SAP search results will be coming from a connection to SAP Enterprise Search and the underlying TREX engine. To get an idea of what that might look like, check out slides 10 and 11 in this deck.

Duet Enterprise Reporting

Conceptually this is very similar to the reporting features of the earlier versions of Duet. Regular reports from SAP ERP or BW can be exposed with Duet Enterprise Reporting. SharePoint will include a catalogue of SAP reports and information workers can also run ad hoc reports.

Users can subscribe to reports which are delivered in either SharePoint or Outlook and these reports can be taken offline in a managed way using SharePoint Workspace. Reports will typically be delivered in either an Excel or PDF format.


David Brutman said...

Thank you for this great overview of Duet Enterprise capabilities.
On another note, as part of the marketing team, I am curious to hear yours and other follower’s thoughts on the following topic: As stated, Duet Enterprise is a foundation that you can do a lot with. Which types of business scenarios would be a natural/good fit to be composed using Duet Enterprise?

Kristian Kalsing said...

Yes, David. That is certainly an interesting discussion to be having. There is an enormous opportunity for taking SAP beyond its normal base of power users and reach every information worker directly. Any scenario where a large number of staff have a direct or indirect reliance SAP power users could be considered.

Niels Hvidtfeldt said...

In Sitrion we are experiencing a healthy demand for SAP ESS/MSS in SharePoint. Casual users with infrequent contact with SAP back-end processes find the intuitive and familiar SharePoint environment very compelling. Packaging end-to-end processes for SAP is challenging. Topaz Bridge and Duet were attempts at this. The reality is; one size fits nobody, as the permutations customer specific SAP implementations and SAP versions create endless cases to cover. The Sitrion Suite has addressed that problem with a template approach in combination with loose coupling between the SAP and Microsoft stacks. In pure .NET, we introduce abstraction layers for exposing, composing and consuming SAP functionality in the Microsoft stack and beyond. This layered approach enables the Sitrion Suite to plug into Duet Enterprise, which is under consideration. We recently unveiled SAP ESS/MSS in Silverlight and SharePoint 2010 which shows flexibility in the consumption layer.

Anonymous said...

I am looking through a manual called Duet 3460A "Duet Enterprise Developer Training". As an ABAPer and Web programmer (RoR) my response is WTF!! A couple hundred pages to expose 1 web service! Is this a joke? I love how each section begins with the basics - "enter Tcode ABCD *and then press Enter*" and then steps through some totally indecipherable task. This is a disaster (atleast on the SAP side)

Kristian Kalsing said...

Peter, I understand your frustration. Duet Enterprise has some promising improvements, but service enablement will remain an enormous challenge.

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Vishal said...

Some of Peter's frustration is also due to how this manual is created. I am sure they could have done a better job with it - giving more concepts than steps to "do something".

I am hoping that Project Gateway should take away some pain of service composition. Duet only includes parts of Gateway.

David Klein said...
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David Klein said...

Kristian, in case you haven't seen, Duet Enterprise 1.0 is now out for MSDN subscribers:


Anonymous said...

​About Duet Enterprise
Duet Enterprise is an interoperability platform for SAP – SharePoint integration, jointly developed and maintained by Microsoft and SAP.

Duet Enterprise can solve one of the well-known profound challenges with occasional users in SAP by facilitating an intuitive SharePoint based user interface for SAP transactions; without compromising security, robustness and integrity of SAP.

Duet Enterprise is suitable both for scenarios addressing broad usage (such as HR Employee Self Services etc.) as well as specialized application scenarios where the SAP standard user interface is not ideal for occasional users. The benefits are obvious: Increased productivity, reduced process time, improved data quality and compliance, reduction of erroneous transactions and error corrections, reduced support efforts – and – Happier SAP Users…

Duet Enterprise; Development and Technical Architecture – 1 day workshop with hands-on.