Sunday, May 23, 2010

White paper discussing the promise of Duet® Enterprise

CITO Research has published The Business Value of Duet Enterprise, a research white paper sponsored by Microsoft. Such sponsorship always contains the risk of the result being more of an advertorial instead of an independent and thorough analysis + evaluation. This paper at locations certainly qualifies as unconditional product promotion, but it also presents several useful insights and details on the mission and capabilities of Duet Enterprise.
The paper discussions the mission and values of Duet® Enterprise from different viewpoints and angles:
  • [as it should be] Starts with the business vision; the why
  • the architecture and interoperability approach; the how at high level
  • examples of what can be achieved; use cases
  • the components of the Duet Enterprise foundation; it's building blocks for composing applications that surface SAP line-of-business content and processes in user interface formats tailored to the needs of the nowadays Information Workers
  • the personality of composites that are best realized via either Duet Enterprise, Business Connectivity Services, or rather BizTalk; choosing the right interop tool for the task/scenario at hand
Some of the most noticable points to take from the paper are:
  1. The statement that although Duet® Enterprise relies on SAP NetWeaver 7.02; it can handle scenario's where a company's SAP environment consists of many generations of SAP applications. From SAP R3 4.6C to SAP ERP 6.0 and beyond.
  2. Duet® Enterprise is SAP / MS interoperability foundation; for rapid development and construction of custom applications
  3. Duet® Enterprise enables the rapid development approach by providing the needed interop plumping
  4. Duet® Enterprise builds on existing investments in SAP [business applications + architecture] and Microsoft [Information Worker] software.
  5. Duet® Enterprise fits in with existing modern IT management, development processes and environment/technologies.
  6. Duet® Enterprise is one way for realizing the vision of Office Business Applications when it concerns connecting with SAP line-of-business.
Missing in the paper is a thorough consideration of the strengths versus weaknesses; of the product and of the proposition itself. With respect to that, Duet® Enterprise could be seen as a threat to some of the SAP business. Although it's promise is to extend the reach of SAP business capabilities beyond its traditional usage and departments, it does so via Microsoft instead of SAP software. It will be interesting to watch hows this develops, and what it will mean for the business of both SAP as Microsoft. Ideally, both will prospher from it. Only then, the combined effort will truly deliver, and have a future.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Claims-based SSO with SAML 2.0

On SAP Community Network the presentation Next Generation SSO for SAP Applications with SAML 2.0 is published containing an overview about authentication, single sign-on (SSO), and identity federation for SAP centric applications. Combined with the recent release of Microsoft's Claims-Based identity platform (Windows Identity Foundation, formerly known as Geneva), and IBM enabling Identity Federation via its WebSphere Application Server (Identity federation using SAML and WebSphere software); 3 of the largest software companies are taking significant steps on this requisite for the interoperability puzzle. Of the remaining other large software companies, Oracle has an handle to the OpenSSO product via the SUN acquisition. But doubt rises about the willingness and commitment of Oracle to OpenSSO - a first sign of this is demonstrated by some broken links to OpenSSO information. From the Google camp I yet miss notion of their plans and products on the Claims-Based Identity subject. I expect that it will either originate from the Open Source community, or donate to it. Who knows, perhaps Google (allthough IBM is a more likely candidate) would be the ideal new founder for OpenSSO...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Unable to recover from a corrupted Publishing infrastructure

For a functional extension to the intranet (enterprise portal) of a client organization, we needed to provision a content page to an existing site. A precondition is thus that the Publishing infrastructure is activated within the context of that SharePoint site: at Site level (PublishingSite feature) and Web (PublishingWeb feature). Upon activating the latter we encountered the following error: Provisioning did not succeed. Details: Failed to create the 'Pages' library. OriginalException: The feature failed to activate because a list at 'Pages' already exists in this site. Delete or rename the list and try activating the feature again.
Strangly enough: via the SharePoint GUI the Pages library was not visible. Could be that it was set to hidden. But trying to directly navigate via its url merely resulted in a NotFound. Upon opening the site collection in SharePoint Designer, it showed there was a left-over of the Pages library: merely an empty folder, no Forms nor other content. But this presence was in the way of activating the Publishing feature. So we deleted this folder via SPD. And then tried to activate PublishingWeb feature again. This time it progressed a bit further, to stop with the message: The page you selected contains a list that does not exist. It may have been deleted by another user. Inspecting again: the Pages library was correctly available now, including associations with PublishingPage contenttypes. Missing this time was the Style Library documentlibrary. That is, when inspecting via SharePoint GUI. Again looking at filesystem level via SharePoint designer: same situation, Style Library folder present, but empty. Deleted this folder, and retried to activate the PublishingWeb feature. Sadly we kept on running into the error of missing List. Even after manually adding the Style Library; forcefully deactivate and re-activate the PublishingWeb feature. We did not manage to recover from the initial corrupted situation wrt Pages list. Search results on the Web for information on both the error messages gave some hits to problem descriptions, but sadly not to resolutions.
Due to a pressing time schedule, we therefore had to resort to a pragmatic alternative. Deleting the corrupted site collection, and re-creating it. This was a viable approach due to the current nature of the site collection: containing no content yet. But it leaves me with somewhat of a frustrated / disappointed mind. I would rather have seen us able to recover from the incorrect situation, while preserving the site collection.