How to "Talk" to Non-SAP (and SAP) systems in 2014 and On

December 4, 2014 Jeanette Bowler

Coffee Talk

This is the third blog in a series that will look at the following 5 perspectives that are changing in the SAP world:

A new world of integration

Once upon a time selecting the way to integrate to and from SAP was simple – the rule was use Exchange Infrastructure (XI) that quickly became Process Integration (PI), which was a combined ABAP and Java solution.

Now the world has moved on and the SAP solution set supporting process and data integration has grown massively, it now includes:-

  • Power Designer – A tool to model your Enterprise Architecture including processes and integrations (the stuff you might have used ARIS for in the past).
  • Process Orchestration – SAP Business Process Management (BPM), SAP Business Rules Management (BRM) and SAP Process Integration (PI) – but Java only now with 10x the throughput.
  • B2B Add-in for Process Orchestration – A set of specific B2B capabilities from Trading Partner Management Portal to EDI specific adaptors.
  • HANA Cloud Integration –A cloud based integration solution that comes pre-loaded with content to connect from on-premise to the cloud.
  • Data Services – Extract, Transform and Load Technology
  • Operational Process Intelligence – Real-time process analytics across SAP and non-SAP systems.
  • Event Stream Processor – Real-time analysis and correlation of complex events.
  • SAP Gateway – Expose and manage SAP services using OData for User Interface consumption
  • SAP API Management – Publish and manage APIs both internally and externally
  • Integration Advisor – Accelerated mapping between SAP and non-SAP systems – to be launched next year.

Based in feedback from Stefan Weisenberger (see comments below), I have added these two options as well.

So plenty of options and you can’t apply the old rules…

Integration.png

Note : Most Middleware components can run in AnyDB as well as HANA

So where do you start? Read on to find out.

First Step: Understand where your problems are

I see lots of SAP implementations, where the integration between systems is quite frankly locked in the last century. Some do not even use PI (“preferring” to dump and ship flat files), those that do use PI, often use it as a point to point file shipping service.

Anyway I will not dwell on the integration horror stories I have seen, but focus more on how you can start to take advantage of the long list of capabilities above.

The first thing to do is to analyze your integration issues / requirements. This means stepping back from your landscape and figuring out what isn’t happening in real-time, and once you have completed step 2 below, you can map the solutions to the issues / requirements.

So why is real-time so important? The answer in 4 words is “The Internet of Things”, another answer in 3 words is “The Networked Economy”, another in 2 words is “Omni-channel” and another in 1 word is “Amazon / Competitors”. If your systems are not updated in real-time and working as a cohesive unit, you will give the wrong answers to your customers, place the wrong orders with your suppliers, fail to meet your service commitments and produce the wrong products.

Whilst one SAP HANA system with all data in one place might be your target architecture, this isn’t going to happen overnight AND even when you achieve it, you will still need your “HANA Island” to talk to those of your customers, suppliers and partners.

As a starter for 10, look for these types of issues:

  1. Where is data delivered between systems in “batch”?
  2. Where is data captured “off system” and entered once it is complete?
  3. Where are processes running, but you have no idea if it is running “right”?
  4. Where is data summarised prior to loading into systems because the data volumes are “too high” or the systems “can’t cope”?

Second Step:  Understand the options

The second step that can be run in parallel with the first one, is to understand what the options are. If you are an SAP customer, http://service.sap.com/roadmap is a good place to start, with the product roadmaps and current capabilities spelt out in the well-known “Today – Planned Innovations – Future Direction format.” – see supporting information below to jump to the key roadmaps. Some key new features to highlight would be:-

  • Simple Landscape
  • Up to 10x Performance – Java only landscape can deliver increased throughput by 10x on the same hardware platform for some scenarios.
  • Easier to Configure
  • Straight Forward B2B
  • Run on HANA
  • User Interface Focus
  • End to End Modelling
  • Dual Stack PI is no longer having new features added so you should migrate and not upgrade

Third Step:  Hardware and Software

A common first step when you look at the above products will be to decide that you need to migrate from Dual Stack PI to Java only PO. It is a migration, as the change in architecture required to simplify the landscape and increase performance, needed some of the technical debt to be left behind. The migration also means that the transfer does not need to be big bang, with integrations moved across group by group, reducing the business risk.

SAP have delivered migration tools to move what is good from your PI landscape and often it is an opportunity to re-work interfaces or re-implement them in tools that are better suited to the job (e.g SAP Gateway, SAP API Management and SAP Data Services).

As with all areas of the SAP product set, deciding to run your new landscape on HANA will bring more features and benefits, such as being able to run PO, OpInt and ESP all on one landscape with zero duplication of data.

Fourth Step: Create an Implementation Programme

Finally the rubber needs to hit the road and you need to create an implementation plan. Usually this will see the issues / requirements listed above put into a timeline with associated costs / benefits driving how quickly the transition from a flat-file/batch organization to real-time will take.

Conclusion

If you go through the above process, I predict two things:

  1. You’ll find features in the modern middleware solutions from SAP that will add value to your business – some of which you will already be licensed to use. You will also realise that you must migrate from PI to PO to get these benefits.
  2. You will remove the “black box” techie view of interfaces and deliver a solution that truly integrates your systems and those of your partners.

About the Author

Jeanette Bowler

Marketing Manager at BackOffice Associates

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