SAP Integration Overview

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SAP Integration

SAP Integration

The SAP integration landscape is becoming more complex. We will see that companies start implementing much more complicated landscapes, both with regards to how the system works, and also according to their needs.

 

At SAPPHIRE NOW I heard people who thought there were too many different components, which made it more difficult to select the correct tool. I was losing sight of the overview of all the solutions. When should you recommend one, as opposed to the other?

 

When I got started with SAP XI, it was the only tool, unless you count custom coding, other vendors’ software or direct RFCs (Remote Function Calls) in the main system. This made it simple to figure out which solutions to use. However, nowadays the landscape is constantly developing, and becoming much more complex. This raises the bar in terms of requirements: new systems need to handle other types of integration.

 

Customers will be using cloud systems for their businesses more, e.g. CRM (customer service management) or a host of new planning tools. Some can run without integration, but in many instances you will need more requirements to be fulfilled in order to get everything working as it should. This will be a huge project undertaking, requiring various tools.

 

Enterprise architects will be having a blast with creating internal guidelines for the different types of integration involved in the development process. Next, a lot will be up to the developers and businesses, because there is a huge overlap between the different technologies. There will be two or more tools that can do the job of exposing data in a certain way.

 

Developers will also be required to know more than just one toolset, more than just one tool. My opinion is that if you are already familiar with one of the platforms, it is probably easier for you to learn the next one. Just as with HCI (HANA Cloud Integration) if you have PO (Process Orchestration) experience.

 

I have tried to compile a list of all the different tools that SAP is providing for integration:

 

  • ABAP – AIF: Runs on the ABAP (Advanced Business Application Programming) system. Good for business rules on the back end, value conversion, and error handling on the back end. Can also do file creation as basic operation.
  • ABAP – Web Service: The proxies created can be used to expose Web Services directly from the back end. This makes it simpler to handle all calls. You will be missing some of the monitoring if you use this approach, but it is not different from the RFC (Remote Function Call).
  • Gateway: Mobile enablement of ABAP makes it easy to expose the REST (Representational State Transfer) /OData (Open Data Protocol) of the behind-the-scene process. Must have a Gateway runtime on either a J2ee system or an ABAP system. It is probably also a nice component to have when dealing with UI5 interfaces.
  • Process Orchestration (PI/PO): Tool to handle system-to-system integration both locally and in the cloud. There is also the User and Process Integration that will allow users to interact with the system. SAP’s main ESB (Enterprise Service Bus) to handle all message processing.
  • HANA Cloud Integration (HCI): This is the cloud integration tool. Focus on cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-on-prem. Comes with predefined content to make it easier to perform specific scenarios, such as e-Invoicing; this is probably the best accelerator with pre-delivered content I have seen.
  • API (Application Program Interface) Manager: Front end to have better organization of the APIs. Requires SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) or REST data behind. Can be both on-premises or run as a Service on the HCP (HANA Cloud Platform).
  • BO (Business Objects) Data Services: An Extract Transform Load (ETL) tool that can do batch loads of big data volumes.
  • MII (Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence): For integration with factories and machines there.
  • HANA Cloud Platform (HCP): this is a cloud platform. It does have lots of different services for integration, and obviously, the HANA system is included. This is probably the place where we will see SAP experimenting with new integration solutions to see what customers want to be dealing with.
  • HANA: The HANA system has been building REST services and probably other scenarios. This will allow direct integration on the platform for both mobile/UI5 scenarios and for system integration as well.
  • Solace Systems: This is a platform for high-speed message transformation and processing. They have an application that can handle 450 k messages/sec. Useful for IoT (Internet of Things) and other sensors. Maybe there will also be some version of this running on HCP. It is not an SAP product, but SAP has a collaboration with Solace Systems.
  • Mobile Application Development Platform (MADF): This platform does have a HCP component, which should be the easy deployment option.
  • Custom code or the use of any library to do different integrations: Here the main aim is to develop back-end integration code that can perform the task, and you will have to build the monitoring framework yourself.
  • You can also have all the competing vendors deliver different software at the same time. I have seen companies that had both BizTalk and SAP PI at the same time, but used these to perform different operations. We will probably see companies mixing platforms even more, since there is a much greater variety of products to use.

 

When to select which tool:

 

This is the million dollar question, and it would be nice to have an answer to it in general. If you need to expose some data as REST, there may be 4 different solutions that could help with that scenario. The one you choose next depends on what you already have, as well as on the requirements for logging and performance; your option also depends on other scenarios you might be using in the future.

 

If it is just for one scenario, then you can use the PO system to expose it as REST. However, if you need to implement multiple mobile scenarios, you may want to figure out if that is the right option, or if the gateway could be a better choice.

Is there something that I have missed from the list? Please let me know!

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2 Comments

  • Michal Krawczyk

    July 1, 2015

    hi Daniel,

    1. With regards to solace – some time ago SAP was promoting – sybase ESP for the same thing – not sure if it’s still being used/sold …

    2. SAP tends to seperate PO into two things – PI and BPM – as they can both work without each other

    3. There are also many other tools used in integration:
    BRFPlus
    BRM (again seperated from SAP PO)
    SAP Integration Advisor
    SAP Operational intelligence
    SAP II by Crossgate ?

    Just my two(five) cents 🙂

    Regards,
    Michal Krawczyk

    • Daniel Graversen

      August 24, 2015

      Thanks.
      They are useful tools in the integration context. Some of the tools may not have an runtime component and not for message based integration.