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SAP Fiori ArchitectureSAP Fiori enables developers to create engaging, user-friendly User Interfaces (UIs). It’s much more than a pretty face, however. Fiori is the front end of a significant revamping of SAP’s underlying software architecture. Driven by changes in the world of IT and information work, and powered by advances in application integration, Fiori easily extends SAP into new devices and user experiences.

SAP Fiori, An Overview

Launched in 2013, SAP Fiori (the word means “flower” in Italian) is a User Experience (UX) for SAP that supplements the earlier SAP GUI. Unlike the linear, menu-driven SAP GUI, Fiori is streamlined and intuitive. Fiori also provides new mobile capabilities. Users can interact with SAP applications from anywhere. It is most powerful running atop the SAP HANA in-memory database. Fiori benefits include worker productivity and flexibility, with support for multiple devices.

Background of SAP Fiori Architecture

The development of SAP Fiori was only partly about end user experience. True, user frustration was rising with the old SAP GUI. Equally or perhaps more important, though, was a fundamental evolution in enterprise IT. In the last decade corporate IT has embraced mobility, open standards-based application integration and cloud computing.

Assumptions about enterprise architecture that were valid just a few years ago no longer apply. The days of the monolithic enterprise application are over, no matter how core the platform may be to a business. Streamlined connectivity is essential. Mobile support is non-negotiable.

Agile development and fast-tracked methods like continuous integration (CI) and DevOps made software releasing far faster than it had ever been before. Systems are assumed to work together despite their vendor origins, across on-premises and cloud-hosted instances. These were the changes that drove the creation of Fiori. It is the front end of a vast rethinking of SAP architecture.

Fiori Architectural Principles

Meeting the new criteria of enterprise IT, SAP devised Fiori according to several key architectural principles. For instance, Fiori has to be available on demand in the cloud as well as on-premises. It must support multiple devices and form factors. The goal is maximum usability regardless of whether the user is on a PC, a tablet or a smartphone. Other Fiori architectural principles include:

  • Central Access via SAP Fiori launchpad, with support for navigation, personalization and configuration capabilities.
  • Role-based authentication and authorization, with single sign-on (SSO) mechanisms for security.
  • Secure provisioning and consumption of data through Open Data Protocol (OData)
  • Corporate identity-based themes

Embedded Analytics which comprise KPIs, charts, and analytical tables in SAP Fiori apps.

  • An SAPUI5-based, enterprise-ready UI development toolkit based on HTML5 and JavaScript
  • App Extensibility, enhancing SAP Fiori apps with templates from the SAP Web IDE
  • Custom development, with the ability to rapidly design, build and deploy SAP Fiori apps

As a consequence of these principles, SAP Fiori architecture is not tied to a device. Nor is it tied to a session or particular user. With this approach, users of Fiori apps can start a task, save it in incomplete form and continue later from a different device. Data is saved automatically and on an asynchronous basis. One user can hand off a half-finished task to another user.

SAP Fiori NetWeaver Gateway Architecture

SAP Gateway, which is part of SAP NetWeaver, forms a critical enabling element for SAP Fiori architecture. To understand the problem it solves, consider the chaos that occurs when multiple external systems (e.g. Microsoft Office, mobile apps and browser-based applications) must connect separately to SAP Business Suite or S/4 HANA. It’s a complex mess, with point-to-point connections that require support for each system wanting to interact with the SAP landscape.

To alleviate this challenging architecture, SAP Gateway functions as a single point of connection for virtually any external application, device or data source. It can connect environments and platforms to SAP systems using OData. With SAP Gateway, programmers can use any language or model to connect non-SAP apps with SAP and Fiori apps. SAP NetWeaver Gateway functions as a unified communication end point, making it possible to have one data model and a single API powering multiple end user experiences.

oData and RESTful APIs

It would be hard to understand Fiori architecture and NetWeaver Gateway without knowing how they fit with the broader RESTful API revolution. Application programing interfaces (APIs) built with the REST standard have powered a remarkable expansion in open connectivity between applications, data sources and infrastructure elements. Achieving what the earlier Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) paradigm had unsuccessfully sought, RESTful APIs enable virtually unlimited, loosely-coupled integration. It is this universal connectivity that makes SAP Fiori’s underlying architecture possible.

OData is an open standard for data. Originally developed by Microsoft, it is now managed by OASIS. OData is based on the Atom standards, themselves built with XML and HTTPS. It was designed to provide a standardized implementation of RESTful APIs. This makes possible database-like access to resources on the server-side. It’s like ODBC for the web. It is extensible, allowing SAP to supplement OData’s compatible data types with information from the ABAP Data Dictionary.

Working with a Partner for SAP Fiori Architectural Implementation

SAP Fiori simplifies life for end users. Yet, it can be a bit tricky under the surface. Your team may need help setting up NetWeaver Gateway and other elements of the architecture. The re-architecting of SAP also creates a number of potential security and compliance deficiencies if not properly executed. We can help you with this. Our Access Control and GRC platform takes care of Segregation of Duties (SoD) and comparable controls that are necessary for compliance. We can offer extensive, proven expertise in Fiori as well as in SAP HANA implementation. As an SAP-certified partner, we can ease your transition to Fiori and optimize your SAP landscape.

Ben Uher, Client Manager of Security & Controls

Ben Uher manages the SAP Security and Controls Practice at Symmetry where he leads a team of permanent Consultants in delivering SAP Security and GRC offerings to global organizations. His deep knowledge in everything SAP Security and GRC related has come from the opportunity to work with over 150 Organizations running SAP throughout various cycles of their implementations. Variation in industry, sector and size has provided a breadth of opportunity and experience in almost every facet of SAP technology spanning HANA, Fiori, ERP, BW/BI, HCM and SCM amongst others. Most importantly, Ben is driven based on results and continually strives to provide exceptional support for the organizations that rely on him and his team as trusted advisers for SAP Security and GRC support.