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To begin the story let’s assume there is the mainland named ERP world and an island – APO. The island is connected to the mainland by a multi-lane bridge. The bridge (RFC connection) has toll gates at both ends. You have tourists (transaction data) and workers (master data) who need to get over from one island to the other through coaches or buses (Integration Models). Interestingly workers (Master Data) can go from the mainland to the island only and not other way round. Tourists (Transaction Data) can go either way but they cannot go from mainland to the island till there is infrastructure built by workers (Master Data). There are designated buses/coaches to transfer workers and toursists depending on the destination (different Integration Models for different type of data) to minimise confusion and mismatch. Depending on the route number (type of master or transaction data) the buses/coaches travel in dedicated lanes of the bridge. And if one of the bus/coach breaks down (CIF queue) then that entire lane is stuck with no further bus (more followup CIF queues in WAITING status after the ERROR queue) able to travel to the other island. So here are the steps for commuting between the mainland and island. Taking cue from the above description the initial infrastructure setup to be done in respective systems is explained below. First the bridge needs to be built – this is normally done by the BASIS team who can be considered as the bridge-building engineers. Once this is done you start creating the routes and assign them to workers or tourists – Integration Model “creation”. Integration Models variant are created in transaction CFM1 and saved. This is like defining who can go in the particular coach/bus. You then use the same transaction CFM1 to “generate” the Integration Model by pulling up a suitable variant and executing it (F8). Save the “generated” model. The Generated Integration Model can be considered as the bus/coach filled in with workers/tourists and waiting at the toll gate before the bridge. This Integration Model is now ready for “Activation” using transaction CFM2. This can be thought as actually starting the bus/coach and cross over the bridge to the other island and ultimately reach its destination on other side. However this may not always be so smooth. So the bridge authorities use a monitoring mechanism called SCM Queue Manager (transaction /SAPAPO/CQ) and other tools (SMQ1 – Outbound Queue and SMQ2 – Inbound Queue) to keep track of the bridge and clear any breakdowns. To compare who all toursists (transaction data only) have arrived at APO island there is another tool called Delta Report (transaction /SAPAPO/CCR). In case someone is left behind she can be resent. This is in short a story board way of explaining CIF.


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23 Comments

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  1. Pedro Lima
    Very cool!

    If you allow me a small contribution: at the tool gate there are policemen (workprocesses) checking the documents of each worker or traveller. The number of policemen is limited, and some must be left to protect the island. But having too few policemen in the gates can originate big queues. One can check these settings in transactions SQMS and SMQR.

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  2. Loknath Rao
    This is a sexy explanation man.. cool. You are really a “consultant” in the truest sense…. unlike hazaar junk characters i have come across posing as consultants.

    Its just that such efforts from people like you help novices take a cue to pick up things faster. I mean its all a language game. “Har Cheez Ki Bhaasa Hoti Hai”..I remembered my maths teachers oft repeated petline in classrooms where he always emphasized using the right symbols instead of writing out in full.

    Whats needed is the right “translation” to a language that everyone understands and appreciates and relates to what can possibily go right or wrong.

    Thanks and keep posting

    Loknath

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  3. kalyana kothamasu
    Somnath u have given the overview of CIF in a splendid way, especially for a beginner this will be decent initiation…I am very novice in this area to say more….
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  4. anjani bhattarai
    Good article!
    But I would like to suggest some corrections.  The qRFC monitor that is used for outbound queue is SMQ1 and for inbound queue SMQ2 is used.
    Thanks.
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  5. Manish Thukral
    Nice 1 minute summary of CIF.We can also say delay in commutation to island(APO) due to increase in traffic on bridges ( Increased volume of data transfer impacting the performance ) managed by Over pass and traffic lights ( Parallelisation and Block Size configuration in customisation)
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  6. Kirit Parmar
    Thanks a million ,I liked the way you explained the whole process ,its very useful for the beginners and layman to understand CIF.

    regards
    kirit parmar
    Pune ,India

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  7. Rahul Tiwary
    It explains the end to end process very well. After giving it a second read even beginners can understand the process with much clarity.
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  8. Somnath Manna Post author

    Six and half years gone past still someone is reading this first blog of mine. Amazing!!!

    CIF still does it job well – best interface between any two Enterprise Applications.

    I am still learning CIF internals while trying to build a set of tools like Automated CPP Error Analysis 😀

    Thanks,

    Somnath

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  9. Mariano Cabalen

    Very good idea.. very cool!

    If you don’t mind I will use this story next time that I have to explain what is the CIF to beginners!

    This kind of articles can only be written by experts like you.

    Thanks!!

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    1. Somnath Manna Post author

      Absolutely Mariano!

      You can use the analogy to explain CIF if you want to.

      Appreciate your comment on the blog, 7 years and still someone finds it useful is very fulfilling and inspiring as author 😀

      Best regards,

      Somnath

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  10. Chitturi Praveen

    Hi Somanth,

    Thanks a lot for providing such an excellent blog. It really helped me to start APO now at my workplace.

    Many thanks!!.

    Regards,

    Praveen.

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  11. Rahul Sharma

    Hi Somnath,

    I always believe if we can have analogy in learning, it will stay in your mind for long.

    Your article is one of the best examples for this.

    Let me know if you have some more… 🙂

    Regards,

    Rahul Sharma

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  12. Pablo Moraes

    Great and very intuitive way of explaining Somnath, well done for the initiative! To someone who is just beggining at the SAP world, this is certainly a great finding.

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