Monday, June 17, 2013

Architecture of a cloud-enabled SAP/SharePoint document viewer

End 2012 IntelliDocx LLC approached us to design the global architecture for their new DocSet.ECM for SAP and SharePoint product suite, and build DocSet.ECM for Plant Maintenance (PM) as first member. The DocSet.ECM functionality is enable end-users to search, navigate and access documents linked with SAP entities, directly within SharePoint based workplaces. The SAP entities come from any of the known SAP Business Suites - PM, Sales, HCM, SRM. IntelliDocx had an ambitieus deadline, as they aimed to release the PM solution to the public and market analysts at the European SharePoint Conference in Copenhague (Februari 2013).
The base functional requirement for the product suite is that it renders a view in SharePoint on documents linked in SAP. But to make it a winning solution, they have more requirements. The products must be very user-intuitive and friendly; enabling arbitrair end-users to utilize it without requiring inside SAP knowledge. Product deployment must be fit for both on-premise as cloud. More and more organizations nowadays have decided, or are looking into, SharePoint Online utilization iso maintaining an own on-premise SharePoint farm. And of course, the product should support both SharePoint 2010 and 2013; or at least be prepared for 2013 ahead.

System Architecture

The diagram below illustrates the architecture we proposed to address the requirement set. (And which we indeed applied to successfully deliver the DocSet.ECM for PM product to market, within the tight timeframe [News release]).

Essentials

DocSet Viewer
  • Deployed via Sandboxed Solution
  • UserControl iso aspx page
    • allows to add the DocSet viewer to regular SharePoint site and content pages / intu├»tieve integration within customer’s SharePoint based portals
  • Server-side only rendering the html
    • No server postback handling
    • No interactive dependency on SharePoint server (may be cloud-hosting)
  • Client-side handles communication with the DocSet webservice, and dynamic UI-rendering
    • By-pass SharePoint server
    • Use jQuery:
      • Invoke DocSet JSON webservice
      • Render tree-view of hierarchical document folders
      • Drag-and-drop of documents (for Move + Add)
  • Configuration:
    • Endpoint of DocSet webservice (may be cross-domain)
DocSet webservice
  • WCF JSON webservice
  • Enable CrossDomain invocation via JSONP
    • CORS is not yet widely supported; and in particular not within the enterprise domain
  • Utilize ERP-Link RFC Connector for SAP / Microsoft.NET interoperability with DocSet.ECM RFCs
    • The architecture allows usage of other SAP / Microsoft connectors, e.g. Duet Enterprise, but we decided to initially use the ERP-Link connector as IntelliDocx told us a lot of their customers already use the Gimmal ERP-Link Suite.
  • Configuration:
    • Connection settings to DocSet RFC
    • Address of SharePoint server hosting the DocSet viewer, to allow cross-site requests from this possible remote / other domain server

DocSetViewer App - SharePoint 2010 + 2013

The DocSet.ECM for SAP and SharePoint product suite is fit to deploy and run within both SharePoint 2010 and 2013, without any code-change; and hosting supported on-premise and within the Office365 cloud.
  
Related info: IntelliDocx

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