Closing the gap between both worlds
Tobias Queck, SAP Imagineering
Company: SAP Labs, LLC
Posted on Apr. 22, 2009 in
Emerging Technologies, Manufacturing, Mining and Metal, Oil and Gas, Retail, RFID, Virtual Worlds and 3D Web
Sensor network solutions usually consist of distributed autonomous sensors that are connected with each other and via a gateway to an IP network. In most cases, vendors offering sensor network hardware solutions also offer a software solution to manage the sensors and their generated data. Most of the interfaces and protocols of the gateways or the software solutions are vendor specific.
If an SAP customer wants to integrate sensor network data with their Business Suite systems, an adapter has to be implemented to connect both worlds or in the worst case, employees copy and paste information from one solution to another. Taking into account that there are x- sensor network solutions and y- SAP solutions, integrating arbitrary sensor network solutions with SAP requires at least x*y implementations of adapters.
As consequence of this problem and based on actual customer cases, here in the Imagineering team, we are working on an adaptive integration layer between sensor network solutions and SAP solutions. Our goal is to create a middleware for the integration of any sensor network solution that can be deployed once and reused in any combination of sensor network and SAP solutions.
Usually sensor network solutions produce events when environment changes are detected. These events are monitored and necessary reactions triggered, possibly resulting in calls into SAP or other systems. The volume of generated sensor events and the number of calls into other systems usually differs drastically. As result, to leverage the huge amount of information generated by sensor networks, it is necessary to correlate streams of events from multiple sources. We have decided to utilize one of SAP's new innovative products: Live Enterprise.
By building the solution with Live Enterprise (LE) as foundation, the main requirements for a sensor network / SAP system connector such as scalability, distribution of components, composite setups and security are already solved. LE is implemented in Java 1.6 and uses the Equinox OSGi framework. Consequently, to develop a component for LE, an OSGi bundle has to be created implementing or using LE functionality. The communication between different bundles is based on the publisher subscriber pattern. A LE bundle contains LE services which are either a producer or a consumer. A producer services publishes events of specific types and a consumer service subscribes for events of specific types.
In our next post, we will explain our architecture in more detail, especially, the data flow between different solutions. So keep posted! Additionally, if you currently think about deploying a sensor network solution in your business or offering a sensor network solution, and want to learn more about our work, please get in touch with us at imagineering (a) sap.com.