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Summary

DataServices is a technical integration tool, so it has to support the interfaces the users believe is best suited for a given task.

When dealing with SAP you have to ask yourself different kind of questions:

  • What technical method to connect to SAP? ABAP, RFC or the underlying database.
  • What object to use from SAP? Tables, Function Modules, Extractors, IDOCs, BW InfoSource/DataSources.
  • Reading or Loading data?

Not all objects can be used with all methods, the following table provides an overview

 

ABAP dataflow

via RFC in a regular dataflow

underlying database

SAP Table (Read)

yes

yes (use DS 4.1 RFC transport method for larger amounts of data)

yes/no (only transparent tables)

SAP Function Modules (Read/Load)

yes (no table parameters)

yes (function needs to be RFC enabled in SAP)

no

Extractors (Read)

yes (use only if needed)

yes

no

IDOCs (Read/Load)

no

reading (in a realtime job)/loading

no

BW InfoSource/DataSource (Load)

no

yes

no

BW OpenHub (Read)

no

yes

no

SAP Set-Hierarchies (Read)

yes

no

no

Most of the restrictions are natural, like you cannot simply load a SAP table, data has to go through the regular validation rules and might end up in multiple tables at the end.
Or BW provides interfaces to read/load data, hence we show BW to the end users like any other database with tables.
The fact that you cannot use table parameters of SAP function modules in an ABAP dataflow is a technical restriction, one that hurts occasionally.
And sometimes you might have multiple options, e.g. loading Sales data via BAPIs or IDOCs? Both have pros and cons. Or BW objects are nothing else then SAP tables, so could theoretically be used that way.

But one is obvious, connecting to the underlying SAP database directly is very limited and hence the exception.