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EDI, SAP NetWeaver, eSOA and Cloud Computing

If you are using custom integration scripts to move data back and forth from your EDI system to your ERP or other database applications, then you are in trouble. The clock is ticking. Business and IT environments change much too quickly these days for any company to be using custom integration scripts.

When I was the EDI Manager of a computer manufacturer I remember studying the spider web of custom integration scripts to see how EDI data got from point A to point B. I remember asking for documentation on the scripts and hearing nothing but laughter. I remember asking what systems would be impacted if a business process was moved from one application to another vendor’s application and no one could answer the question.

Custom integration scripts will ultimately damage the business. Why? They are way too expensive to maintain, edit and support. They can not be easily changed and over the years companies can accumulate thousands of them (for a related article click here). Businesses must be able to rapidly change, add and support integrations today.

SOA (Service Oriented Architectures) models for integrating EDI with SAP and other database applications must be implemented. SAP NetWeaver PI is a good platform to implement the eSOA approach to EDI integration. Integrations between the SAP ERP and your EDI system can become services that are stored in the Enterprise Services Repository and available for reuse and editing.

This approach avoids many of the problems caused by most custom integration scripts for EDI. It gives the enterprise the ability to quickly find, edit and use pre-existing services.

Starting in late 2008 SAP has been developing and promoting a new concept for EDI. A network-centric approach to EDI that calls for the use of an EDI Exchange that utilizes SAP NetWeaver in a cloud computing model. All SAP users can subscribe to it and access it using a NetWeaver-to-NetWeaver connection. New Enhancement Packages (SAP updates) will come with pre-developed EDI integration services in the Enterprise Services Repository. It is a very interesting concept that is pointing us to the future.

Here is the biggest problem. Management does not want to hear about fixing something they think works. They don’t want to reserve budget to fix what works today even if it is a ticking time bomb. Good Luck!

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