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Aspirant to learn SAP XI…You won the Jackpot if you read this!-Part I

My inbox is flooding with many mails soliciting the direction to start their career into SAP XI. I am too lethargic to reply for everyone as it is a bit lengthy process to explicate it in a mail. You can ask me, Why am blogging so late? I told you already am lazy to pen lengthy stuff:)…But…One day I got a mail from an graduate student asking me to guide him…!!….Alas! I am amazed and impressed with that mail….I guess SDN Community has accomplished its goal in global marketing and inspiring all sorts of people across the globe……Kudos to SDN!…You get many experts working on a product then expect it to be more matured and robust…GOOGLE has set an example by delivering a product that is the breath of any IT professionals from two college students…Isn’t it?. Probably it might work out same for SAP XI as well…Who Knows?… ..Read it!


Mail Extract :
Dear Sravya:
This is Rajesh, an engineering graduate I spend a lot of my time on internet reading resources, I am an SAP XI aspirant. I have gone through a lot of your articles published by you and Michal on I want to learn SAP XI, but the possibilities from where I hail are NIL. I am completely depending on Internet and most of the time I get lost to nowhere.
Please help me out; I would kindly request you to assist me in learning XI. Please mail me few documents that could get me knowledge on XI.
Thanks in advance,

Question me! Why I need to blog now when plenty of information is available in SDN? Imagine you have gone to a new place on a tour! Is not it better to have a guide who can direct you better? If you want a guide then read through otherwise please feel free to skim it as you wish. I have structured the blog in such a way that guides any kind of reader to start working on SAP XI and guide all the aspects that are requested by many people through e-mails and forum requests.

Projected Trends

Before we learn SAP XI we will try to see the projected market and estimate whether it is worth enough to put our time to learn a new technology. I guess the reason many mail me for learning SAP XI is the high billing and demand in the market.

Companies across the globe will increase their budgets for enterprise resource planning solutions by 12.3 percent in 2007, according to a recent report from AMR Research. “This year and next will experience levels of ERP investment that we haven’t seen since the late 1990s,” said Jim Shepherd, senior vice president at AMR. “At that time, new customers were replacing legacy systems with ERP suites.

SAP and Oracle will maintain their foothold in the ERP space, AMR predicted, noting that 55 percent of respondents in the process of making ERP system selections said SAP was on the list of vendors they were considering, while 43 percent of respondents said Oracle was on their list. On top you have Oracle customers selecting the safe passage to SAP. SAP says that 73 customers have signed on to Safe Passage to date, including the likes of Samsonite and Waste Management.

According to AMR Research “The story around Net Weaver is more real at this point than Oracle’s story is around Fusion.”

Going by these estimates as customers around the globe choose SAP you will have an insatiable demand for SAP Net Weaver consultants who can integrate the diverse applications installed within an enterprise using SAP XI.

Prerequisites :

Now let’s start with pre-requisites to learn SAP XI. I get many mails stating their backgrounds and asking me whether they can start working on SAP XI with those skills. So there is really a need to express the pre-requisites here. SAP XI product supports both ABAP stack and Java stack which clearly draws out a conclusion that either a good ABAP or JAVA professional can learn SAP XI. SAP XI is an EAI tool that clearly gives out a message and path for EAI professional that they can start working on SAP XI. SAP XI predominantly used in the integration of SAP landscapes in the real time and runtime is entirely dependant on the ABAP stack which creates a passage for leveraging the existing ABAP resources to jump in. As the design and configurations of the interfaces that is critical in an EAI SDLC even Java experts can plunge in and master the tool. I don’t like to chart out a boundary that SAP XI can only be used by EAI Architects or Java Professional or an ABAP Professional. You are a 3 in 1 expert professional then no one can beat you in mastering the tool.
If you are open to learn new technology then you can learn SAP XI.It is no rocket science! The only thing that varies is the time taken to master the tool (Probably might take little more if you have not worked in SAP or Java or EAI or ABAP) and depth of understanding of the tool. It totally depends on your grasping ability and interests of learning to work on the SAP XI. We need to have an access to SAP XI system for working sample scenario that helps you in understanding things better. Without the access to the system you can only know high level architecture of SAP XI probably might not be beneficial if you want to work in SAP XI projects.

Terminologies :

I remember myself finding it hard to understand and remember the terminologies that are used in SAP XI and hence forth sharing the links that can be useful. I might not be able to explain all the terminologies but can help you in locating places. I have to work with michal to make an extensive list for SAP XI on wiki page.
Navigate SAP XI Terminologies link by clicking SAP Exchange Infrastructure in the major areas section and then check the Glossary and Definitions Section.Also many forum threads are raised to understand the definitions like EDI,UTF etc. Use this link to search generic terms that clearly states the definition without raising it in the forum or asking anyone by just typing the search word in the link Define Terms.

Sweet Heart in SAP XI

Do you know the sweetheart of SAP XI? If not then please put your effort to learn it now. I never understood the four letter word SOAP but loved it when I have read the blog An Overview of SOAP. Don’t miss the reading!

Architecture :

A blueprint plan is drawn before building a house similarly the architecture of SAP XI has to be blueprinted in your brains before starting work on SAP XI projects. I am not going to coach you the architecture in this section as I don’t like spoon feeding when lot of efforts are already put by publishing various articles. Refer Architecture of SAP XI.Also refer SAP XI in Nutshell.You can refer SAP help if you want to delve deep.

Virtual Class Room :

Many a times we don’t get time to attend training classes due to tight working schedules of the current projects but there is no one free to teach you when you have time. This is the most common scenario for any IT professional to learn new technologies. SAP has addressed that by providing virtual classes through e-learning. Refer e-learning material and you are not dependant on anyone.

Start working with SAP XI :

I divided this into various sections that allow any reader to understanding SAP XI step by step.
A. High Level Process Flow : I assume you already know the components and terminologies before we proceed into this section. In a nutshell the end to end process flow of SAP XI is depicted over here:
1. Create products, software component versions, technical systems, business systems in the System Landscape Directory (SLD).
2. Import the software component version into the Integration Repository (IR) from the SLD and start developing the source/target messages, source/target message interfaces and mapping between source and target systems.
3. Import the business systems into the Integration Directory (ID) and start configuring the sender/receiver communication channels, agreements, receiver and interface determination that binds the interfaces and the routing.
4. Once the configuration is complete we need to test the interface and see if the message is sent from the sender to the receiver successfully or correct the error if it occurred. You do it through the monitoring the tools Runtime Work Bench in the Integration Builder and using sxmb_moni transaction code in the ABAP stack of SAP XI.

B. Rationale for isolating various components in SAP XI : One of the most frequent questions that might arise about the architecture is that rationale behind isolating various components. The reason is simple Reusability of the Integration Content. I need an example whenever some one enlightens me with their knowledge. The best example for this case is the separation of integration repository and integration directory allows you to re-use the message interfaces and mapping logics for any system landscape. All you just need to do is to import the .tpz file into any repository and configure it according to the customer system landscape. Do you agree with me?

C. What happens when a message reaches SAP XI? This is some thing who wants to learn SAP XI has to understand for trouble shooting the errors that might occur in the message life cycle. Refer Understanding message flow in XI

D. Configurations that has to be set in SAP XI system : After the SAP XI system is installed by your SAP Basis you need to do some configuration and system readiness check before the starting the developments of SAP XI. Configurations are usually done by SAP basis but these links might be handy to understand weird errors that occur commonly in SAP XI.
Refer the links SAP XI configuration and the SAP note 817920 for system readiness check.

E. Develop Sample End to End scenarios at a single shot : There are two kinds of readers one who understands the box and then work and another who base their experience of working for having the clarity. This section is for those who want to develop the interfaces in one shot and then understand the underlying system.
Refer Sample scenarios for building end to end solution in SAP XI.-Part I and Sample scenarios for building end to end solution in SAP XI.-Part II

Before I provide info to start working on various components of SAP XI in an elaborative manner let me take a break! I will provide the info on certification, SDLC activities in SAP XI, training and experiences of projects in real-time in the next blog. Please wait for the next episode that can be even more interesting answering many of frequently asked questions!

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