Thursday, October 30, 2014

Expose SAP data into Office 365 productivity clients

On 16 September, SAP launched an update of their product SAP Gateway for Microsoft (GWM). Code-named "GWM Azure", this update focusses on integration of SAP backend data and functionality, through SAP NetWeaver Gateway, in the Microsoft Azure cloud and Office 365 tenants.
As a member of the Customer Engagement Initiative group on SAP-Microsoft Interoperability, I was fortunate to participate in the product’s customer validation preceding the product launch. In our customer validation (CuV), I focussed on ‘enterprise-ready SSO’. With this phrase, I mean a robust, controlled and foremost enterprise-scaleable way to give employees via the Office 365 context access to the on-premise SAP data and functionality. In practice this translates for me into rely on authentication standards like SAML2, OAuth2, X.509 certificates; and not make use of username/password (weak) authentication. Mind you, the latter is fine for initially playing around and executing PoC’s. But it is not a secure and maintainable approach when addressing productive scenario’s with larger user groups.
The outcome of our CuV participation turned out very well. I could proof in ample time that the SAML2 based Single Sign-On from our Office 365 tenant via GWM Azure into our on-premise SAP landscape (Gateway + business suites), well... simple works!! The access to the SAP data in the Office 365 clients is still authorized based on the SAP authorization permissions and roles. An Office 365 user is only granted access to SAP data and functionality in compliance with his/here role in the SAP business systems.
With the release of GWM sp3 (GWM Azure), the availability of an organization’s SAP business data, can easily but still secure be extended to the Office 365 productivity clients. With Microsoft putting strong emphasis on the Office 365 proposition, and lots of organizations actually buying into this (including new customers for Microsoft, as consequence of Microsoft aggressively targetting the small and midsize business market (SMB)), this adds a powerful new business proposition; for the Office 365 ecosystem but also for individual Office 365 subscribers.

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