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SAP Business Connector (BC) has been widely used among customers. One of the main reasons is that this is a piece of FREE software. With the introduction of SAP Exchange Infrastructure (XI), many people are asking which one should I use?

To answer this question, we need to go back a few years and see where is this BC from. During the dot com peak days, all applications need to be exposed to internet. One temporary solution for SAP applications is to use BC as a translator/gateway to internet; it translates SAP message into XML format. Over the time, the functionality of BC has been enhanced.

However, from enterprise application integration (EAI) architecture point of view, we identify BC as a point-to-point (P2P) connection. For each application you need to connect to internet, there is a need for an individual BC. It is different than the integration hub/bus approach which is getting more and more acceptance in the business community. The reason is that integration hub/bus approach can eliminate spaghetti web in a complex system landscape, and make integration more straightforward and easy to adapt to new requirements. Ultimately it reduces Total Cost of Ownership. SAP XI belongs to this category.

With this background information, our answer to the above question is: A) if things are running, don’t break them; keep your BC since SAP still supports it. B) If you are thinking about updating your system landscape which will affect the BC, or you are doing a long term planning, considering SAP XI or other EAI tools. There is no need to rush to a conclusion. Think big but take a small step at a time.

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11 Comments

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  1. Christopher Solomon
    Thanks George! Straight to the point. Nice. This is how I keep it(NW) all in perspective….

    EP = frontend “portal”
    XI = backend “portal”
    KM = unstructured data repositories “portal”

    “Portal” is used loosely, but for the most part, each acts as a hub. They all basically help “untangle” the web/spagehtti in each of their areas as you described. Again….nice job.

    CS

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  2. Matthew Easlea
    if you are still developing with or about to start developing with BC, you need to be aware of implications when the *inevitable* upgrade to XI occurs. This includes making sure you don’t use the proprietry Webmethods graphical flow language. If you stick to Java packages in BC then the upgrade to XI is relatively easy.
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    1. Simon Scott
      Or do your SAP Business Connector development using XSLT to do the mapping.  Then you can load it directly into SAP XI without loassing anything, when you come to migrate.

      Regards,
      Simon

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      1. Paul Doherty
        I agree entirely with Simon. The Webmethods Flow logic is extremely powerful but will tie you into a proprietary solution. Open standards such as XML/XSLT mapping will give you flexibility for the future and could greatly widen your stategic choices at a later date.
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  3. Kalle Pokkinen
    We actually have written a POC (Proof Of Concept) to automatize most of BC mappings and flows to corresponding XI ones (we estimate a 70 – 80% automatization in the conversion). Of course there are things that just simply don’t match between the two products and then you might need to do manual work, but you can mostly get away with generating “XI correct” output from almost any BC interface.

    The trick is of course just to know both of the products well enough to understand how they store & structure the data you can see on the screen.

    The biggest problem is that there might be a need to rewrite the java libraries that are part of BC due to copyright reasons. Or has SAP licensed all of the BC libraries so that any XI client can use them as well?

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    1. George Wang
      Hi Kalle,

      I am interested in how you have done on the POC. 80% is a good accomplishment. What is good approach you have learnt from the POC in order to achieve this, and what was the development resource requirements?

      Thanks in advance.

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    2. Go Joong Kim
      Hi! Kalle,

      I also want to know how to automatize the BC mappings and flows to coressponding XI ones. Could you share your precious knowledge?

      Best regards,
      Chris GoJoong Kim

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  4. Steven De Saeger
    I agree with all the postings here … In terms of message mapping you could reduce the risk by using open standards as much as possible …

    Another tricky part is however the visual front end … In our case we have build quite an extensive ‘administration’ module which allows for customisation and message monitoring …

    Needless to say this has been build using the DSP technique … Migrating all this (50+ pages) is not that easy and where does it fit in the XI picture?  There are many options here … JSP, BSP with web services, etc …

    Right, where to start?

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    1. Hisa Yoshikawa
      I am reviewing a NEW system integration effort.  We have some EDI components with key vendors, and it seems to me that EDI adapters for BC is available as a FREE download.  However, reviewing XI 3.0’s connectivity information, it appears to me that I must purchase adapters from Seeburger. 

      I’m also reading documentation on how XI supports the BC development, specifically via BC adapters.  And for future prosperity, it appears as long as I stay away from complex flow logic, BC will be supported indefinitely (although no new BC functionality will be released).

      Does this mean that if I have an instance of BC, that I can route my EDI through that instance, and have that instance communicate with my XI instance?  Can BC/XI reside on same instance? 

      Also, I’ve read some comments on how BC is basically point to point.  However, I’ve had opportunities to work on implementations where a global template pipe was configured on BC, with routing rules on how to specifically deal with any localization requirements.  eg. a generic GL interface exists.  all partners send data to the GL interface.  however, depending on partner information, the interface is routed to either standard or custom BAPI’s.  We did use separate adapters per interface type though.  for example, the orders interface is separate from GL.  In the XI world, is the order and GL interface configured together?

      thanks so much for your help!

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  5. Rohit Vashisht
    Hi

    I am exploring ways to integrate our application with SAP BW. It will require to fetch a subset[but significantly large] of data from infocubes and Metadata service. I am not sure if XI will scale to this level because it is a message based integration bus. Is there a direct method like java adapter etc to do it?

    Regards,
    Rohit

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