The Power of CAS: Part II
The intent of this blog entry is to further inform readers of the functionality of the Accenture CAS System. Accenture CAS is the leading integrated sales platform for the consumer goods industry, providing companies with the ability to streamline all of their day to day operations. The CAS system uses four main tools, namely the CAS modeler, SQL Server Management Studio, Visual Studio 2010, and the CAS Application which uses Microsoft Silverlight. Today, we will focus on the following foundational CAS Modeler objects: Entities, Domains, Basic Data Objects (cdos), and Views.It can be said that the most important objects in the CAS System are Domains and Toggles. Domains represent data types of each attribute in an Entity. They can be predefined or created by a developer in the Modeler. Domains can have customer names, but each Domain be based on one of six data types. The data types are: Blob, Date, Decimal, LongText, NonUnicode, and String. Domains determine the type of data entry required in the User Interface. If the data type is a Date the user will have to enter a valid date into the system. The same is true for the other data types.A Toggle is known as a special form of Domain, comprised of the StringData Type.Each Toggle contains codes, items, and labels that are used for data storage. What makes Toggles special is that they are prefilled with Labels for the user to choose from as data. Each Label corresponds with an Item. Once the value is saved, a Code that corresponds to the Item is sent to the database for storage . For example, if a user is being created, there is a State Toggle. This holds a string label for each state in the nation. The creator must choose a state, and once the tab page is saved, the code for the selected item will be saved to the database.The Accenture CAS System has the ability to track and store data by using Views and CAS BasicData Objects, or cdos. In order to do this, there must first be a “building block” upon which Views and cdos can use to read and write data. These corner stones of the Accenture CAS System are Entities. An Entity is an object in the Accenture CAS System that contains the definition of a table. This essentially means that entities provide a schema of tables in the database, giving cdos and Views the correct information when performing queries on the database. Every entity contains two important sections: Includes and Attributes.Includes are preexisting packets of core attributes that may be needed for the current entity. Every entity will contain at least one Include named SysEntityObject. This contains attributes vital to saving and updating the data represented by the entity. The most important of these attributes is the PKey, or Primary Key. This attribute works exactly like Primary Keys in database systems. Each row in the corresponding table will have a distinct PKey that helps maintain data integrity.Attributes represent columns of a table in the database, and are added manually to an entity. As stated previously, attributes must contain a domain type. When an attribute is added to an entity, a dropdown box will appear containing all domains in that module.If a developer adds attributes to an entity that will link it to another, they must select a Domain of type DomPKey. This special attribute addition creates a relationship in the system to the other entity. This is important for use in Views and cdos who compare two or more entities.Now that we have covered Domains and Entities, we will look at Views and CAS Basic Data Objects (cdos). Notice that Entities are required for both Views and cdos. The difference between the two is the number of entities used in retrieving and storing data. A View can be created using one or more entities, where as a cdo is based off of one entity.Views are essentially select statements using relationships between entities as the constraints. Generally speaking, when a developer creates a View these relationships already exist due to their corresponding PKeys having been added to the other entity. However, if the relationship does not exist, it can be created when the view is created. Each view has a “Starting Element” that represents the entity being primarily selected from, and if other entities are needed, they will be added to the view based on their relation with the first entity. This allows views to narrow the results to a smaller set that meets all required constraints. Once all entities have been added, attributes from the entities can be added to display in the return set. For example, the preexisting view, BpaMainRoleView, has a starting entity of BpaMain. It then adds other entites based on relationships with BpaMain. The figure below depicts the scenario and shows all of the constraints for the view.The developer of this view has also added attributes from the various entities to display in the result set from the SQL Query generated. Once the view is run, it will select all data from all of the entities where the constraints are met and return the data to the application.CAS Basic Data Objects differ from Views in that they are used to access data from one entity. There are two ways to create cdos in the Modeler. First and most importantly, each entity will have a cdo created at the same time it is. These cdos have a basic condition stating “PKey = ?”. This will return all rows from the table where the PKey supplied is equal to the PKey of the row. Cdos can also be created seperately from an entity, but they will still require an entity to interact with as well as a condition. More custom-specific cdos can be created in this manner. For example, if a developer needed to have all Call Visits that are scheduled for a date greater than the current date returned, a cdo could be created with a constraint: “ClbMain.DateFrom >= #Today#”.Just as a building is based on its foundation, Accenture CAS is based of of Domains, Entities, Basic Data Objects, and Views. Domains are essential for Entities that represent table definitions. Entities are crucial for View and Basic Data Objects. User Interfaces in Accenture CAS are dependent on cdos and Views.The Accenture CAS User Interface will be discussed in later entries. If there are any other topics you would like hear about CAS, just let us know!
The Power of CAS
Rural Sourcing uses several technologies to bring the best products to our clients. One of the most used technologies is the Accenture CAS System. Accenture CAS is the leading integrated sales platform for the consumer goods industry. It provides companies with the ability to streamline all of their day to day operations whether it be tracking inventory, managing customers, making payments, setting up promotions, or even keeping up with sales representative store visits. The CAS system uses four main tools, namely the CAS modeler, SQL Server Management Studio, Visual Studio 2010, and the CAS Application which uses Microsoft Silverlight.The CAS Modeler is a graphical interface that simplifies the majority of the creation process, enabling developers to create UI Elements such as Tabs, Grids, and Groups without having to write any code. It is broken into several modules each having a specific area or usage.The most prominent modules are Bpa, Clb, Prd, Prm, and Usr.The Bpa module focuses on Customers and Contact Partners. This will include stores and the contacts connected to the store. The Clb module is used primarily for Collaboration and Visits. When a sales representative travels to a Customer, or Store, this module will be accessed. The Prd module is used for Product creation and inventory, and the Prm module is used for Promotions of the products in stores. Finally, the Usr module is used to keep up with all User accounts and logins.Each module in the system will have its own set of CAS data types that are used to read and write from the database. The following image will give you a basic idea of how the system is set up for each module. The basis for the CAS system is an Entity. These are essentially the definition of a table in the data base. From the Entity a Basic Data Object is created. This cdo is used to access one table in the database. Views can also be created, allowing the developer access to multiple tables in the database. Both Basic Data Objects and Views will be used in conjunction with a Data Container which links the data to Overviews and Details. The Overviews and Details are the final step and are displayed in the application tab page.SQL Server Management Studio is used by the CAS System to store data, but it is also instrumental during development for accessing the database for testing purposes. It allows developers to see any new content they have added to the individual tables, or changes to values in the database. SQL can also be used in Stored Procedures and Server Processes. In these processes, a developer can access the database to select data from or update data from the database.Visual Studio 2010 is also a vital tool used by the CAS System. All of the development in the modeler is Save and Deployed into code. There are two types of code created by CAS. The first is, “core“ code, which for all intents is uneditable. The second type is “customizable” code. This type of code can have “Insertion Ranges” added to it. These ranges are the segments of code that can be customized.The CAS Application uses Microsoft Silverlight to display what has been developed using the modeler and Visual Studio 2010. Depending on what roles a user contains, they will be able to access different UI Elements of the Application. Through these Tab Pages, Grids, and Groups along with other User Interface tools, the user can view or update data as the tab pages direct.As developers at Rural Sourcing we work with several clients using this technology to create the best solution to their needs. We will delve into some of the individual CAS components in future blog updates.
SAP BW Server
The central administration area on the SAP BW server not only features a ‘Staging Engine’, which controls the data loading process, as well as processing and preparing its data, it also features SAP BW databases which store master, transaction and metadata.The Administrator Workbench is responsible for organization within SAP BW. In other words, the control, monitoring and maintenance of all data procurement processes. You can use the Administrator Workbench to manage and control all relevant SAP BW objects and processes. As well as defining all relevant information objects, you can also use the Administrator Workbench to plan load processes using a scheduler, and monitor them using a monitor tool.However, before the data is in a suitable form to be stored, it must be prepared by the Extraction, Transformation and Load (ETL) process.SAP BW OLAPThe Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) processor allows you to carry out multi-dimensional analyses of SAP BW data sets. It also provides the OLAP tools with data via the BAPI, XML/A or ODBO (OLE DB for OLAP) interfaces. In principle, the OLAP area can be divided into three components:BEx Analyzer ( Microsoft Excel based) BEx Web Application BEx Mobile IntelligenceYou can use these tools to carry out both Microsoft Excel and Web-based analyses across several dimensions (such as time, place, product, and so on) simultaneously.
SAP NetWeaver provides an open integration and application platform and permits the integration of the Enterprise Services Architecture. You can unify business processes across technological boundaries, integrate applications for your employees as needed, and access and edit simple information easily and in a structured manner. SAP NetWeaver is the basis for all SAP solutions on a given hardware.As a core component of SAP NetWeaver, the SAP Business Information Warehouse (SAP BW) provides data warehousing functionality, a business intelligence platform, and a suite of business intelligence tools that enable businesses to attain these goals. Relevant business information from productive SAP applications and all external data sources can be integrated, transformed, and consolidated in SAP BW with the toolset provided. SAP BW provides flexible reporting and analysis tools to support you in evaluating and interpreting data, as well as facilitating its distribution. Businesses are able to make well-founded decisions and determine target-orientated activities on the basis of this analysis.With SAP BI Content, SAP delivers pre-configured role and task-based information models and reporting scenarios for SAP BW that are based on consistent metadata. SAP BI Business Content offers selected roles in a company the information they need to carry out their tasks. The information models delivered cover all business areas and integrate content from almost all SAP and selected external applications.
SAP Business Information Warehouse: Introduction
The SAP Business Information Warehouse (SAP BW) enables you to analyze data from operative SAP applications and from other business applications and external data sources such as databases, online services, and the Internet. SAP Business Information Warehouse, which is pre-configured for core areas and processes, allows you to examine the relationships in all areas of your organization.The following needs were taken into account when designing SAP BW:A data warehousing system with optimized data structures for reporting and analysis A separate system OLAP engine and tools Based on a comprehensive data warehouse architecture Automated data warehouse management Preconfigured with SAP global business know-howAgainst this background, SAP decided to create its own data warehousing solution that classifies reporting tasks as a self-contained business component. To circumvent the numerous disadvantages associated with reporting in the ERP system, data storage, management and reporting takes place on a separate server, the SAP BW server.SAP BW enables Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) for the staging of information from large amounts of operative and historical data. OLAP technology permits multi-dimensional analyses according to various business perspectives. The SAP BW server, which is preconfigured for core areas and processes, allows you to examine the relationships in all areas of your organization. SAP BW provides targeted information to companies, divided into roles. This information helps your employees to carry out their tasks.With the Business Explorer (BEx), SAP BW provides you with a flexible reporting and analysis tool to support strategic analyses and decision making processes within your organization. These tools include query, reporting and OLAP functions. Employees with access authorization can analyze historical and current data at differing levels of detail and from different perspectives. They can use the Web or Microsoft Excel to do so.