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SAP Integration Trends ( Early1990s – 2009 )

Hi All,


I had created the below article long back and thought of sharing with all. It talks about

various trends that have been followed in the history of integration architecture.


Daryl Plummer, a managing vice president at Gartner had said,  

“SOA is not something you chose to do. It will happen to you whether you chose it or not” 

With this indication, SAP has provided a new dimension – E-SOA, with tremendous potential for customers and partners. Trends in SAP like ESOA, ESB, EDA (Event Driven Architecture), BPM have made the integration as backbone for the ideal architecture. This ground-breaking change leads to hold the attention of most of the CIOs and IT Managers. 

Since mid-1990s, there are rebellious changes observed with the technologies used for various integrations starting from ALE-EDI-IDO, EAI and have still continued up to PI 7.1 EHP1 & 2.  

To understand the future trends, it’s important to be familiar with the major integration approach that SAP had followed till date.  There are numerous articles/papers available about the these integration models which had made my life simple and prohibited from going in depth with these models, Most of those articles have the similar attempt to define this transition as below 

Point to Point  –> Hub & spoke –> ESB 

Well, how SAP can be exception for it? No of course not, SAP had followed similar line of attack. The SAP Integration trends are as below

  1. Point to Point Integration
  2. Hub & Spoke Integration

Service based Integration




PS Note : The trems mentioned in above diagram indicates several products & protocols. (For e.g. “SAP” indicates various SAP products such as SAP ERP, BW, EP etc.) 

Point to Point Integration

Point-to-point integration is used when a sender has to send a message to a single receiver (that is, a 1:1 relationship). This kind of integration is straight forward way to integrate the A2A or B2B.  The Point to Point roots are always preferable for lower budget. Unfortunately the enhancements/changes for these kinds of interfaces are not flexible-enough and may become the show stopper in modifying the Business processes. It is important to realize that point-to-point interactions themselves are not bad. Still the problem lies in the custom integration, created for point to point interactions because every new application with sender receiver point would need to create its own separate integration. For large scale integration this kind of architecture will be not supportive. Even it would be very difficult to support in future for those interfaces. Definitely I should agree as Point-to-point offers short-term savings, but long-term pain. ALE-EDI-IDOCs used the point to point connection in early days. Even the huge Data load across the SAP and non-SAP systems have followed the Point-to-point communication in many cases.  

Hub & Spoke Integration

Hub-and-spoke architectures consist of a centralized hub which is integrated with the various applications via spokes i.e. with the use of various adapters or connectors. The integrations of various applications or Business processes are deployed on the top of existing systems with re-usability approach. As a hub, the middleware Integration tools like EAI, PI has stepped up to the task of providing a interaction point between applications. Middleware can provide generic interfaces with which all integrated applications pass messages to each other. Each interface defines a business process provided by an application. With this Hub & Spoke architecture it is easy to imply the various message transformations, conditional routings etc. across multiple applications based on the requirements. 

Service based Integration 

SAP NetWeaver had delivered an enterprise service bus (ESB) that enables service bus based integration between A2A & B2B. It is a distributed service architecture based on Web services standards which is based on Open Standards and provides various features like flexible security framework, intelligent routings, message transformations and many more. Service Based Integration could be compatible with all features provided by other traditional models. In this integration these features are spread over the distributed landscape. Like the various services could be hosted in separately deployable container i.e. in ESR and published via Service registry which can be used across various landscapes.

Thus one way or another, we will definitely agree that for those companies and organizations pursuing an SOA, the shift towards an ESB-based infrastructure is a major step in this evolvement.

SAP has nice efforts to give the ESOA as approach to make this revolutionary step successful with minimal risk

PS Note: There are still some different opinions about the SAP integration products being consider as complete ESB, but it’s not in the scope of this article. There are couple of discussions available in forum on this.

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  • Hi Swarup,

    thanks for your thoughts.

    Although now working strongly in the PI area I always look back with a smile at the ALE-times and SAP have had one of the best integration technologies on the market more than then ten years ago.

    For me it would be very interesting if you could share the transition of your company concerning the SAP integration technologies with us. What were your experiences and benefits?

    I am looking forward to your next blogs.

    Best regards,

    • SAP CRM has always been a “point to point” solution in communicating to ERP and it still does not use any type of hub and spoke or ESB to communicate to SAP ERP.

      Now if you want to show SAP CRM communicating to a non SAP ERP system, then your diagram would make sense.  Also the use of SAP in the diagram is misleading, as SAP is the company and no longer one particular software product.

      Take care,


      • Thanks for your suggestions,
        Your indication about Point-to-Point communication may be correct one. Actually I remember a scenario where CRM was integrated with multiple SAP ERP and Non-Sap systems under single landscape. 
        For e.g. There are multiple SAP ERP and Non-SAP systems available in a single organization (of course in case of large-scale industry). These systems are utilizing common CRM system as central front end.
        May be considering the Business processes, there can be better approach, but technically I think there is possibility to link multiple ERP systems via PI.

        Also I intend to treat the Usage of SAP terms as various SAP Products such as SAP ERP, EP, BI, SRM, CRM etc. This is very good point you have suggested, I have added the related note to clarify the diagram.

        Thanks & appriciate your suggestions.


        • Swarup,

          Thank you for the clarification.  You are right a more complex landscape could involve PI or other techniques for multiple backends.  I just wanted to point out for the most common SAP CRM scenario(1 ERP, 1 CRM) the integration is really a true point to point setup.

          The interesting part about your diagram is that in some landscapes all three approaches still might be present.

          Take care,