26 March, 2010

What happened to the .NET Connector for SAP?

This is not really news but I get this question fairly regularly, so I thought I would clarify a few things. There seems to be a bit of confusion around whether the SAP .NET Connector is still supported and how it relates to the Enterprise Services Explorer for .NET.

The .NET Connector is an SAP product based on Microsoft .NET technologies which provides the technical interoperability required to build .NET applications interacting with SAP. Many companies use this approach for point-to-point integration with SAP where a custom interface is required and .NET is the preferred development platform. It is also commonly used in Office Business Applications (OBAs) such as Excel add-ins that communicate with SAP.

The .NET Connector interacts with SAP via BAPIs, RFCs, IDocs or asynchronous web service calls and is fully integrated with Visual Studio .NET 2003. At design time, you can generate .NET proxy classes using the integrated Proxy Wizard. Your applications will then communicate with SAP through the .NET Connector runtime using RFCs or HTTP/SOAP/XML.

After SAP released the Enterprise Services Explorer for .NET, development on the .NET Connector was discontinued. Using Enterprise Services is definitely more compliant with service-oriented architecture principles, but many, if not the vast majority, of companies running SAP are yet to deploy the Enterprise Services Repository and Registry which ships with NetWeaver 7.1, Process Integration (PI) or Composition Environment (CE).

The .NET Connector is based on version 1.1 of the .NET Framework and is only supported for Visual Studio 2003. Because the .NET Connector has been discontinued, SAP will not provide newer versions for Visual Studio 2005 and 2008. There is, however, a suggested workaround which should work for both.

Theobald Software has been quick off the mark to offer a replacement for the .NET Connector with their ERPConnect product. Similar to the .NET Connector, the runtime is a lean assembly which communicates directly with SAP. The design time experience is slightly different using standard wrapper classes rather than a proxy class generator. It works with any version of Visual Studio.

Despite being discontinued, many companies still use the .NET Connector. But now there is a commercial alternative using Theobald's ERPConnect which has recently achieved SAP certification too.

Update: SAP has announced release 3.0 of the SAP .NET Connector. Public availability is planned for December 2010.


Kent Weare said...

You can also use the Microsoft BizTalk Adapter Pack, inside or outside of BizTalk that allows you to make point to point connections from .Net to SAP. The caveat being there is a licensing cost if you don't have a BizTalk license of around 5K USD

chibu said...

Still wasiting for .net connector 3.0

Uriel Le said...

The SAP .NET Plug is a growth atmosphere that allows interaction between the Ms. NET system and SAP techniques.