SAP Boosts Reliability, Integration for Java Devs

SAP is bringing a host of improvements to its NetWeaver and J2EE app server technologies, including better reliability, improve data management and easier business integration tools. See why SAP says Java/J2EE devs in 2005 deserve better features to support reliability and integration both "inside" and "outside" the container.

Tags: Java, Technology, SAP, Master Data, NetWeaver, Web Services, Business,

In a move to better attract Java/J2EE devs to its application platforms, SAP is bringing better reliability and easier business integration tools to its NetWeaver and J2EE app server.

The key to the new Java reliability in NetWeaver is an "SAP-designed Java-complaint virtual machine container technology," Harald Kuck, SAP's development manager for client/server technology told IDN.

The Java VM container technology, which runs standard Java code, provides the code a framework that minimizes the impact of error situations on Java applications.

"Java apps are getting more complex every day," Kuck said, "and as they get more and more mission-critical at the backend, or integrate with such systems, such as [SAP] R/3, we felt there was a need to improve Java's reliability," he said.

"The new Java VM technologies allows standard Java code, without any changes, to run on a framework around the Java VM which reduces memory requirements." The key to lowering memory requirements, by lowering the number of parallel users per VM, "helps to isolate or contain any errors" that might occur during the running of an application, Kuck explained.

SAP's new Java VM container technology also includes several additional new features to help administrators and developers manage Java applications and rapidly resolve error situations, including:

  • Ability to let admins can switch a user process in the production system into and out of debugging mode "on the fly." This eliminates the need for cumbersome and inaccurate replication of a problem in a test environment by allowing administrators to quickly debug in the production system with a minimum amount of application downtime; and

  • In-depth tracing and powerful monitoring facilities that provide precise error analysis and rapid problem resolution.

    Kuck pointed out that in today's traditional Java backend environment, when a Java application error occurs with one user, it can often spread to affect a larger number of users. Symptoms can range from screen freezes, loss of data and the need for re-keying of information. He said SAP's approach is designed to let devs avoid such interruptions, without the need to learn anything outside of Java.

    "A Java developer will not need to learn anything new to use [our] container technology," Kuck told IDN. "It is standard Java, and it looks to [the Java developer] just like standard Java," he said, although the core architecture is based on SAP's VM approach for its long-standing ABAP [language] technology.

    SAP's Java VM is standard Java, but the technology will only be available for SAP NetWeaver's Web Application Server (WAS), and not be portable to other J2EE app servers, Kuck said, at least for now.

    NetWeaver To Make Sharing, Publishing Data Easier
    SAP also unveiled a Master Data Management component for NetWeaver, which will make it easier for Java/J2EE deevs to deliver integration and web services projects across multiple Java and non-Java platforms.

    The MDM capabilities include a broad array of web services, a new object modeling framework and extensive new data normalization and performance updates—make SAP MDM the first offering that can manage customer, product and vendor information in heterogeneous IT systems. The new master data management capabilities are available immediately. Global data synchronization capabilities will be available in December 2004.

    In a nutshell, MDM looks to help IT consolidate their multiple and disparate silos of data, and integrate those various data stores into one unified, and non-duplicative dataset. In specific, SAP Master Data Management, bundled with NetWeaver, addresses these challenges by providing the ability to model any master data object using built-in services to normalize, reduce duplication of and syndicate master data.

    In the MDM package are:

  • A flexible Master Data Object modeling framework -- which allows users to create and define their own master data objects with their own business-specific attributes;

  • Web services-based data admin, which delivers out-of-the-box capabilities for administering master data through Web services with the goal of letting IT architect all their apps to be service-enabled from the start; and

  • Straight-through Processing capabilities, which speeds the chore of loading millions of master data objects into a customer's information system from outside sources.

    Other "Intelligent" NetWeaver Upgrades
    SAP is also speeding up the query-processing functionality in NetWeaver by adding business intelligence-based (BI) advanced storage and search techniques.

    Last month, SAP unveiled to some 1,000 developer/architects a prototype of new 'business intelligence' (BI) technologies for NetWeaver which could speed searches across multiple platforms (databases, app servers, web servers) by 10 to up as 1,000 times over traditional query techniques. searching inventory and/or financial data across different systems.

    At the core of the enhancements are a suite of new technologies, including use of: vertical decomposition, horizontal partitioning, smart compression and in-memory processing. SAP cited their customer needs to support higher data volumes, as well as more simultaneous data requests.

    The BI work will be a main focus of SAP R&D in 2005, an SAP spokesman said, noting the company will devote more than 100 devs and engineers to BI enhancements next year. BI is a core technology for business analysts to use for data mining, analysis, financial reporting and inventory management.