ALE is a business solution to a very real need emerging in the SAP market. This is the need for businesses to move towards tighter integration between systems, yet, at the same time, provide independence to the various business units within the company.
In the past the move was towards centralized systems...
Standardization of business processes accompanied by ever tighter integration within the central system no longer represents a practicable approach to this problem. The following are some of the most commonly encountered difficulties:
-the effect of time zones on international corporations,
-excessively long response times in large centralized systems.
How do you achieve this "loosely coupled applications" without compromising data integrity, without committing yourself to a specific technology, without adding to the technical issues mentioned above, ???
What if you want to link in to external systems as seamlessly as possible?
The SAP Solution - ALE
SAP has provided ALE (Application Link Enabling) as the solution to these issues. It allows you to:
-distribute your applications across several SAP systems, such that centralized functions, as well as decentralized functions can operate in the same company arena
-maintain and distribute master data elements from a central system, thus maintaining unique number ranges across several systems
-maintain and distribute control data objects from a central system, thus synchronizing important configuration data. This is important when trying to decentralise functions, yet keep them integrated
-couple R/2 and R/3 systems, in some instances
-couple SAP and external systems, via IDocs (Intermediate documents) and an external translation mechanism
ALE also provides you with tools that allow you to:
-manage the ALE process seamlessly. These tools include the reprocessing of communication errors, business process and technical error handling and routing via workflow, archiving of data
-keep audit trails of all the ALE communication
-configure the ALE solution in many different ways in order to tailor make a solution for the user
In SAP's words:
"The ALE (Application Link Enabling) concept available in R/3 Release 3.0 supports the construction and operation of distributed applications. It incorporates the controlled exchange of business data messages whilst ensuring data consistency across loosely coupled SAP applications. The integration of various applications is achieved by using synchronous and asynchronous communication, rather than by means of a central database.
ALE comprises three layers:
-the applications services,
-the distribution services,
-the communications services.
In order both to meet the requirements of today's customers and to be open for future developments, ALE must meet the following challenges:
-Communication between different software releases.
-Continued data exchange after a release upgrade without special maintenance.
-Independence of the technical format of a message from its contents.
-Extensions that can be made easily, even by customers.
-Applications that are decoupled from the communication.
-Communications interfaces that allow connections to third-party applications.
-Support for R/3-R/2 scenarios.
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