Why so many questions?
If the questions and ideas mentioned so far sound interesting, then you are ready for the rest of this book and you are ready for the format.
When we sat down to write this book, we were quickly awed by the breadth of topics under the ESA umbrella. ESA starts with a perspective on how business should view IT through modeled processes and information entities and then explains how applications should be constructed and technology should support these applications along with a range of related issues. It would easily be possible to write a book about just the business perspective, the application perspective, or the technology perspective. But to really provide a service to the SAP community, our mission was to write a book about all three. Covering ESA at all of these levels represented the first challenge.
The second related task was to provide a way to choose what topics to include. To cover these perspectives meant we had a lot of territory to map out and then navigate. Within each perspective there is a wide variety of material. The question we struggled with was how to guide readers to the material that was most useful to them.
Most technology books do this by constructing a narrative or a story that explains things from one perspective. The problem with that approach is that whichever perspective we chose to use to organize the narrative would leave the other two groups searching for what they needed to know.
Our solution was to imitate one of the forms of content that was made popular on the Internet, the Frequently Asked Questions or FAQ document. ESA is so large and affects so many different people in different ways. There are hundreds of stories inside the world of ESA. So, we gave up on the idea of telling one story or making one perspective dominant. Instead, we present questions and answers, lots of them, so readers can quickly find the information they seek. We chose to write each chapter as a series of answers to questions so that the table of contents was a long list of questions. We assembled these questions into chapters aimed at a particular audience so that related questions handled at a similar level of business or technical detail were grouped together.
While we try to keep a natural sequence between the answers to the questions, with one question leading to another, this structure abandons any form of story and instead leaves it to readers to find what they need to know. Our intent was to write a book that would be more useful to more people than any other approach. Only experience will tell, and we would love to hear from you. Now we will begin with the most fundamental question of all.