Understanding the Internet Transaction Server ( ITS)

The SAP Internet Transaction Server (ITS) is the essential link between the SAP R/3 system and the Internet.

The SAP Internet Transaction Server (ITS) is the essential link between the SAP R/3 system and the Internet. It enables Internet (and Intranet) users to communicate directly between R/3 system to run R/e transactions, remote enabled function modules and reports as Internet applications components. The ITS is one of the cornerstones of SAP's mySAP.com offerings and strategy and integrated into the SAP 6.10 Web Application Server release. The...

ITS is the key technology behind the following products: Workplace, Employee Self-Service (ESS), Enterprise Buyer Professional (EBP), BW 2.0 Interface, Online Store and Retail Store, and the APO Interface. There are many other SAP products and applications that are based on ITS technology to interface from the Web to SAP R/3. 

SAP ITS can handle complementary Web technologies to access data from SAP R/3:

- SAP GUI for Html: SAP transaction screens are dynamically converted to HTML pages 

- Web transactions: SAP transactions that can be called from an HTML page (template based mode) 

- Web remote function call (RFC): SAP R/3 function module that can be called from an HTML page 

- Web reporting: Mechanism for linking to SAP reports and regenerated lists from an HTML page. Web reporting is implemented as a special-case RFC. 

- ITS Flow Logic: Events, statuses, and modes used to model the dialog logic of a Web application in "flow files" on the SAP ITS. SAP R/3 data is accessed via BAPI or RFC. Access to external data providers is also possible.

SAP's Internet applications are known as Internet Application Components (IAC) or Easy Web Transactions (EWT). Both are complete business solutions that allow Internet and Intranet users to access business information in the SAP R/3 system by starting transactions, function modules, and reports from a Web browser. All IACs or EWTs are based on a common infrastructure consisting of two essential components. 

SAP Internet Transaction Server (ITS) - The ITS is the interface between the Internet and R/3 and is the runtime engine that links Web server to the R/3 Application server. 

ABAP workbench tool - Web Application Builder and/or SAP@Web Studio - WAB is an R/3 ABAP workbench tool and SAP@Web Studio is a PC tool for creating, modifying and managing all ITS objects on which IACs or EWTs are based. These objects include service files, HTML Templates and HTRC language resource files. 

The ITS solution to developing Internet applications is based on the premise that there is already a suitable business application solution, which has a stock of transactions, function modules and reports, as well as its own integrated development environment. All that is needed to enable Internet users to access and run these applications is an interface to the Internet. Apart from the general advantages derived from making SAP R/3 business information available over the internet, the ITS solution has many benefits. 

These include: 

*Ease of development - Programmers can develop IACsEWTs using a business application system (R/3), development environment (ABAP Workbench) and a programming language (ABAP), with which they are already familiar. There is also integrated data dictionary support from the ABAP Dictionary and appropriate transaction handling. 

*Ease of deployment - The ITS solution supports internationalization of applications. 

*Ease of use - ITS based IACs and EWTs have the same look and feel as any other Web site. 

The separation of programming tasks from the visual design aspects is desirable, because both require different skills. In the ITS scenario, the ABAP programmer develops the application in ABAP using the ABAP Workbench in the SAP R/3 system . And the user interface specialist handles the design and navigation aspects of the application with design languages like HTML and SAP's HTML Business in either the SAP@Web studio or ABAP Workbench tool, Web Application Builder.

The aim is to create applications that send documents back to the Web browser client in plain HTML format, since this format can be handled by all major browsers. This is important in an environment like the Internet where there is often little control you can exert over client software such as Web browsers. Fit can be controlled; you can also use Dynamic HTML, Java applets, JavaScript, and VBScript in you HTML templates, because the script language is transparent to the ITS. 

How does the ITS work? 

When an Internet user requests an ITS service by clicking on a URL hyperlink or keying in a URL address in a Web browser to run a IACEWT, the request is processed as follows: 

1. The Web browser passes the request to the Web server. 

2. The Web server calls the server-specific ITS extension WGate - WGate is the link between the ITS and the Web server. WGate is a Web server extension that encapsulates the various supported HTTP server interfaces such as: CGI (Common Gateway Interface), NSAPI (Netscape Server Application Programming Interface), ISAPI (Internet Server Application Programming Interface) in a transparent manner that passes the requested data to the ITS AGate component. 

3. WGate forwards the request to the ITS server process called AGate (which may or may not reside on the same machine.) 

4. AGate is the link between the ITS and the SAP R3 application server. AGate is the core processing component of the ITS. It receives Web browser request from WGate and communicates with the SAP R3 application server via the DIAG or RFC protocol. 

5. AGate then processes the requests, and sends all relevant details (including logon information) to the SAP R3 system, which either starts the first dialog step of a new transaction of submits further data for the next dialog step of a transaction already started. 

6. SAP R3 starts the transaction for the service requested and sends the screen output to AGate. 

7. When the dialog step has finished, AGate retrieves the result from SAP R3, and is responsible for session management, including mapping of SAP R3 screen or function modules to HTML, web session timeout handling, SAP R3 connection management and generation of HTML documents that are sent back to the Web browser client. 

8. AGate forwards the formatted HTML page to WGate. 

9. WGate forwards the formatted HTML page to the Web server. 

10. The Web server sends the formatted HTML page to the Web browser, where it can be viewed by the user.

The ITS is downward compatible, therefore the ITS release must be the same or higher than the SAP R/3 kernel release. There are three restrictions to this approach: 

1. The SAP R3 release must be at least version 3.1I or higher. 

2. You can only use those Internet Application Components that were shipped with the SAP R3 release you are using. 

3. ITS 6.10 should only be installed in front of an SAP E3 kernel release 6.10 (e.g. CRM 3.0) 

ITS 4.6D Server Platforms 

Wgate 

Microsoft NT 4.0 Server
Microsoft Web Server (ISAPI)
Netscape Web Server (NASPI)
Apache HTTP Server (Apache Module)
Any CGI Web Server (CGI)
Microsoft windows 2000 Server
Microsoft Web Server (ISAPI)
Linux/Intel Apache HTTP Server (Apache Module)

Agate 

Microsoft NT4.0 Server
Microsoft Windows 2000 Server
SAP@Web Studio
Microsoft NT 4.0 Workstation
Microsoft Windows 2000 Workstation 

ITS 6.10 Server Platforms 

Wgate 

Microsoft NT 4.0 Server
Microsoft Web Server (ISAPI)
Netscape Web Server (NASPI)
Apache HTTP Server (Apache Module)
Any CGI Web Server (CGI)
Microsoft windows 2000 Server
Microsoft Web Server (ISAPI)
Microsoft XP Server
Linux/Intel
Apache HTTP Server (Apache Module) 

Agate 

Microsoft NT4.0 Server
Microsoft Windows 2000
Server Microsoft XP Server
SAP@Web Studio
Microsoft NT 4.0 Workstation
Microsoft Windows 2000 Workstation
Microsoft XP Server


Documentation is available as follows:

1. SAP R3 Online Documentation

ITS documentation can be found under <4.6A: Cross applications -> Business Framework Architecture -> Web Basis (CA-BFA-WEB) >=4.6A: Basis Components -> Frontend Services -> Internet Transaction Server (BC-FES-ITS)

ITS contains information about R/3 Internet Application Components, an IAC Implementation Guide and an ITS administration guide.

2. Web Sites

Public: SAPMARKETS General information about the ITS, several documentation papers, or software downloads and so on.

3. Web Studio Online documentation

The SAP@Web Studio online documentation contains help on the SAP@Web Studio program, the Complete IAC Implementation Guide, a Web transaction tutorial, HTML Business Language help and the ITS Administration Guide.

To learn more about ITS, attend the following SAP Educational Services classes:
ITS 050 Internet Transaction Server
ITS 100 Developing Easy Web Transactions
ITS 150 Corporate Identity Design

To find out more information about SAP Internet Transaction Server Curriculum, please click here: SAP ITS Curriculum

This was first published in December 2001
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