Basis is a set of middleware programs and tools from SAP, the German company whose comprehensive R/3 product is used to help manage large corporations. SAP provides the underlying base (thus the name) that enables applications (such as FI, CO, and SD, for example) to be interoperable and portable across operating systems and database products.
R/3 Basis includes client/server architecture and configuration, a relational database management system (RDBMS), and a graphical user interface (GUI). In addition to the interface between system elements, Basis components include a development environment for R/3 applications, and a data dictionary, as well as user and system administration and monitoring tools.
R/3 is the comprehensive set of integrated business applications from SAP, the German company that states it is the market and technology leader in business application software. R/3 replaced an earlier system, R/2, which is still in use. R/3 uses the client/servermodel and provides the ability to store, retrieve, analyze, and process in many ways corporate data for financial analysis, production operation, human resource management, and most other business processes.
A recent release of R/3 makes it possible to get to the R/3 database and applications through Internet access and Web browsers. A sales representative can initiate the workflow for a sales order by filling out an electronic form on a laptop that will be “translated” into input for the R/3 system. Other interfaces such as Lotus Notes can also be used. The Web implementation adheres to the Workflow Client APIstandard of the Workflow Management Coalition (WfMC).
A more recent version of R/3 adds features designed to speed product delivery by helping to manage the supply chain.
Related glossary terms:user exit, ERM (enterprise resource management), ERP (enterprise resource planning), suite, Direct R/3, R/2
SAP, started in 1972 by five former IBM employees in Mannheim, Germany, states that it is the world’s largest inter-enterprise software company and the world’s fourth-largest independent software supplier, overall.
The original name for SAP was German: Systeme, Anwendungen, Produkte, German for “Systems Applications and Products.” The original SAP idea was to provide customers with the ability to interact with a common corporate database for a comprehensive range of applications. Gradually, the applications have been assembled and today many corporations, including IBM and Microsoft, are using SAP products to run their own businesses.
SAP applications, built around their latest R/3 system, provide the capability to manage financial, asset, and cost accounting, production operations and materials, personnel, plants, and archived documents. The R/3 system runs on a number of platforms including Windows 2000 and uses the client/server model. The latest version of R/3 includes a comprehensive Internet-enabled package.
SAP has recently recast its product offerings under a comprehensive Web interface, called mySAP.com, and added new e-business applications, including customer relationship management (CRM) and supply chain management (SCM).
As of January 2007, SAP, a publicly traded company, had over 38,4000 employees in over 50 countries, and more than 36,200 customers around the world. SAP is turning its attention to small- and-medium sized businesses (SMB). A recent R/3 version
Client/server describes the relationship between two computer programs in which one program, the client, makes a service request from another program, the server, which fulfills the request. Although the client/server idea can be used by programs within a single computer, it is a more important idea in a network. In a network, the client/server model provides a convenient way to interconnect programs that are distributed efficiently across different locations. Computer transactions using the client/server model are very common. For example, to check your bank account from your computer, a client program in your computer forwards your request to a server program at the bank. That program may in turn forward the request to its own client program that sends a request to a database server at another bank computer to retrieve your account balance. The balance is returned back to the bank data client, which in turn serves it back to the client in your personal computer, which displays the information for you.
The client/server model has become one of the central ideas of network computing. Most business applications being written today use the client/server model. So does the Internet’s main program, TCP/IP. In marketing, the term has been used to distinguish distributed computing by smaller dispersed computers from the “monolithic” centralized computing of mainframe computers. But this distinction has largely disappeared as mainframes and their applications have also turned to the client/server model and become part of network computing.
In the usual client/server model, one server, sometimes called a daemon, is activated and awaits client requests. Typically, multiple client programs share the services of a common server program. Both client programs and server programs are often part of a larger program or application. Relative to the Internet, your Web browser is a client program that requests services (the sending of Web pages or files) from a Web server (which technically is called a Hypertext Transport Protocol or HTTP server) in another computer somewhere on the Internet. Similarly, your computer with TCP/IP installed allows you to make client requests for files from File Transfer Protocol (FTP) servers in other computers on the Internet.
Other program relationship models included master/slave, with one program being in charge of all other programs, and peer-to-peer, with either of two programs able to initiate a transaction.
Getting started with client/servers
To explore how client/servers are used in the enterprise, here are some additional resources:
How server virtualization improves efficiency in a client-server model: Here an experienced network expert explains how virtualization can optimize productivity in this expert response.
Slow response times from client/server PC’s running IFS applications: How do you find out the culprit of a network delays when you see little bandwidth being used?
In the computer industry, middleware is a general term for any programming that serves to “glue together” or mediate between two separate and often already existing programs. A common application of middleware is to allow programs written for access to a particular database to access other databases.
Typically, middleware programs provide messaging services so that different applications can communicate. The systematic tying together of disparate applications, often through the use of middleware, is known as enterprise application integration (EAI).