Monday, January 16, 2012

Reasoning for Duet Enterprise in addition to SAP NetWeaver Gateway

With the release of Gateway 2.0 as addition to the SAP NetWeaver stack, the question is justifiable whether this on itself is sufficient for SAP / Microsoft interoperability. Stated otherwise: ‘Do you need Duet Enterprise?’ The answer on that depends on your requirements, IT strategy, plans and situation. On level of desired application(s) functionalities as well as the Enterprise Architecture strategy, policy and plans in your company.
This blog is earlier published on SAP Community Network Blogs

Is Duet Enterprise required for SAP / Microsoft interoperability?

An answer to that question is: No, Duet Enterprise is not per se required, but it might be the wise decision. To make that decision, multiple aspects must be considered.
  1. The extras Duet Enterprise brings to the table (compared to Gateway alone)
  2. Your SAP / Microsoft roadmap and plans; multiple applications and a future-robust strategy, or just now for a single project?
  3. Enterprise Architecture guidelines
  4. Functional requirements
  5. Limitations and implications of Duet Enterprise

Duet Enterprise extras to SAP Gateway for SAP / Microsoft interoperability

The extras fall into different categories.


  • Standard SharePoint rendering of the imported SAP data through SharePoint Business Data webparts
  • Standard CRUD+Q UI-process pattern on SAP data; for bidirectional data handling
  • Support / hook into SharePoint Enterprise Search
  • Collaboration workspace around SAP data entity: Customer, Product, Quote
  • Integration of SAP workflow into SharePoint context
  • Same for reporting: schedule + review SAP BW reports from SharePoint front-end


  • Single Sign-On from SharePoint into SAP
  • Propagation of SAP user authorizations into SharePoint roles + permissions
  • Propagation of SAP data authorizations to SharePoint Search context, via construction of ACL’s on the External Data entities
  • Transparant SharePoint (consumer) – SAP (provider) runtime connectivity via SharePoint BCS

Operations and lifecycle management

  • End-2-end monitoring; starting from SharePoint, via SCL, upto SAP backend
  • Audit trail per use case


  • Design tool for generation of BCS Model on basis of Gateway Model (itself generated via Gateway generation tools)
  • Integration with SharePoint; Gateway is strict to provide standards-based access to SAP data, Duet Enterprise is also a first-class
    SharePoint-aware user.

Roadmap + ecosystem

  • SAP and Microsoft have a roadmap outlined for Duet Enterprise
  • Base functionality provided by Duet Enterprise
    product is augmented via the partner ecosystem (via Unite program)

Enterprise Architecture

The decision for Duet Enterprise implementation is not made in isolement. It must be considered and fit in the greater area of enterprise architecture. It is evident that Duet Enterprise only makes sense if your IT
landscape contains both SAP and Microsoft. But that alone is not sufficient to justify the purchase and implementation of the product Duet Enterprise. Does EA mandate usage of standards: interoperability protocols, products? And for
common-of-the-shelf products, prefer strategic suppliers Microsoft and SAP above third-party suppliers? These are just 2 examples of questions on which EA should make a thoughtful decision and statement, resulting in EA guidelines.

Functional requirements

The often required rationale for Duet Enterprise is actually a negativisme of the SAP (G)UI. So it is not so much that the decision is made for Microsoft / SharePoint, but more that it is decided against the 'detested' SAP user interface. But if the only motivation is to get rid of the SAP user interface and replace it by another, there are other possibilities. Build a custom user interface in SAP WebDynpro for instance.
Duet Enterprise starts to shine when you combine the powers of the SharePoint platform with the functionality of the SAP processing. Not merely rebuild the SAP user interface, but design and architect an improved user experience by integrating it within context of the information worker.

Limitations and implications of Duet Enterprise

Duet Enterprise is not a silver bullet for all SAP / Microsoft interoperability occassions. It has limitations, intended or as consequence of architectural desicisions. Also, implementation of Duet Enterprise has its costs.

Limitations of Duet Enterprise

  • No support of REST protocol
  • Limited to data-oriented, CRUD+Q service signatures
  • Design-time tooling support only for inside-out approach; not for outside-in
  • Full design-time tooling support only for flattened SAP data-structures
  • Standard SharePoint rendering only for flattened data structures. This is actually a limitation of the standard SharePoint BCS UI controls. Rendering of complex data structures can be done via custom build SharePoint UI-controls (example: Working with complex SAP business entities in Duet Enterprise).

Costs of Duet Enterprise

The costs fall apart in different categories:
  • Recurring license costs
  • One-time deployment and installation effort
  • Training of IT operations, architects and developers (for all: SAP and Microsoft)
  • Optional (but recommended for any except a simple SAP landscape): dedicated SAP Gateway application server
  • Duet Enterprise design time requires presence of SAP Enterprise Service Repository (ESR)


The decision for the implementation of Duet Enterprise must be made in perspective of the business requirements and middle-term enterprise architecture. If SAP / SharePoint policy is a fundamental part of the [future] business application and IT landscape, Duet Enterprise might very well be the sensible decision. Better as realizing + maintaining an own SAP / Microsoft interop layer (no matter how smart your IT people are, they will on longer term never win it from the sheer combination of SAP + Microsoft product team). And also better as purchasing + implementing third party products. That will result in more shattering in your IT landscape, while you must assure yourself of the continuity of the product and its supplier. Again here the combination SAP + Microsoft gives on the longer run more trust as that of smaller although dedicated suppliers.


  1. I agree with your comment on SAP/SharePoint interoperability often being driven by negativism towards SAP. If that is the driver, then as you say, any UI framework can be utilised to address the problem.

    The real potential for SAP/SharePoint solutions lies in a new class of composite applications that mash up structured and unstructured content. In reality, this is conceptually disruptive and customers are still waiting for the visionary killer use cases.

  2. Kristian
    Yes, real added value is within combining the strengths of the 2 platforms, with each a different primary focus. However, in practice more and more the initial or starting motivation appears to replace the SAP user interface by another, more appreciated (due familiarity) ui in the primary enterprise portal. And as we both are aware, this is often SharePoint based.

  3. Mapping SAP functionality one-to-one into SharePoint webparts or lists is of limited value, evil tongues in the industry call this “lipstick on a pig”.
    It is much more useful to unify the informal and formal aspects of business processes in a way mimic real work better. We see three widely adopted use cases: 1) SAP self-services that hide SAP complexity via a natural Microsoft context in Office, SharePoint, Azure or on Mobile Devices. 2) Office documents as artifacts of SAP processes 3) Formal SAP workflows chained with informal Microsoft workflows.
    To enable this, some sort of service composition is needed. SAP Gateway (Duet Enterprise) is an excellent choice for SAP centric developers. For .NET developers that want to cover both back-end and front-end composition in heterogeneous environments (SAP and beyond), 3rd party vendors make robust tools available. Sitrion, for example, has taken a software factory approach to .NET development for SAP. No matter what the approach, composition is king.

  4. Niels,
    Thanks for your response.
    Let me make it straight: Duet Enterprise is in no means limited to only mapping SAP UI onto comparable SharePoint UI. The real potential (see the remark of Kristian, and my reaction on that) is in combining the strengths of SharePoint platform with the structural and stable processing of SAP. For example: work on / around SAP data via the information worker capabilities of SharePoint; enterprise content management, BI dashboarding, composite apps.
    The approach that The Next View advocates is to start from the User Experience view, by first deriving the User Interaction Design. Next step is to validate with the SAP analysts and architects whether it is feasible to realize that UID via the SAP backend. If not, decide to adapt to UID, or make custom development in SAP. Always, the user and the requested (+ intuitive) user experience is the guiding factor; and IT landscape in combination with (lack of sufficient) business case may be the constraint.

    I'm familiar with Sitrion, fine tool for certain aspects of SAP / MS interop. Issue is that it is a 3rd party product as add-on to the portfolio of strategic IT suppliers SAP and Microsoft. Enterprise Architecture consolidates the IT landscapes, and reduces the number of foreign tools + technologies.