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The reason for this blog is that I came accross some SAPNOTES regarding SAP Business Connector. Which statet that the latest version of SAP BC 4.7 will be out of maintenance on December 31, 2009 (NOTE 571530). Later on SAP provided a new note about the Release and Support Strategy of SAP Business Connector 4.8

SAPNOTES:
Note 571530 – Availability of Sap Business Connector
– Business Connector 4.6: December  31, 2008.
– Business Connector 4.7:  December 31, 2009.

Note 1094412 – Release and Support Strategy of SAP Business Connector 4.8
– Business Connector 4.8: December 31, 2017

Due to the above facts I started looking what the differences are between the middleware tools SAP BC and SAP PI, as I want to know the big reason for moving to SAP PI. Also SAP PI is still considered as the successor of SAP BC. Finally I have formed a conclusion what the best argument is to go for SAP PI instead of SAP BC.

 

Similarities SAP BC and SAP PI

Adapters
SAP BC and SAP PI both understand the SAP-specific network protocol Remote Function Call (RFC) as well as standard network protocols such as HTTP, FTP, and email. Also, both of them can process the SAP-specific data formats defined by BAPIs and IDocs as well as standard XML data formats.

(There are differences between the 2 middleware tools in adapters e.g. SAP PI can use FTPs)

Mapping tools
Both SAP BC and SAP PI use a graphical mapping tool to do mappings and both support the possibility to use own JAVA coding to help in mappings, e.g. formulas to change the date format.

(Mapping tools work differently)

Costs
Any SAP Customer and SAP Partner who has purchased a SAP License is entitled to receive the SAP BC. This doesn’t really mean that anyone can use it for free.

For SAP customers who are already using other modules in the NetWeaver stack, PI is often available for little additional cost. Still there are additional costs for data traffic.

Differences SAP BC and SAP PI

BPM (Business Process Management)
Unlike SAP BC, SAP PI supports Business Process Management. This is a similar thing as SAP workflows and used in the following situations:
– Process where we have one message coming in and based on that message multiple messages are send out.
– Process where multiple messages are coming in and we need to send out one message.

 

Support
SAP BC is still to be considered as Webmethods with a SAP Logo on it. The support for SAP PI is better because SAP PI is still considered to be the successor of SAP BC. There is also more documentation available on the internet on SAP PI.

 

Stability, Volumes, Landscape
When the SAP Business Connector needs to handle large volumes then it’s not a stable as SAP PI.
SAP Business Connector is working fine in a small landscape of systems, but in a bigger landscape it’s easier to use SAP PI because of the maintenance.

 

Predefined Services
For SAP PI there are a lot of predefined services available. These predefined services can be easily uploaded into SAP PI. The predefined service contains the mapping of a standard process and the routing needs to be completed. The routing can be done with the help of manuals.

 

Monitoring Tools
SAP PI has got better monitoring tools then SAP BC. SAP BC just note down an error as in PI it’s possible to send out alerts via e-mail.

 

E-SOA
With SAP PI you can set up Service Oriented Architecture. As SAP PI is the collection of technical components which provides the technical possibility to implement E-SOA. SAP PI is part of SAP NetWeaver.

 

Conclusion

There is a breaking point where it’s becoming to complex to use end to end mappings, there for it’s better to switch to SOA. SAP PI is the tool to do it with and Business Connector is only good to use in a small environment, for end-to-end mappings with small volumes.

For more references:

http://service.sap.com/connectors

http://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/sdn/go/portal/prtroot/docs/library/uuid/a8424011-0d01-0010-e19d-e5bd8ca52244

Best regards,

Guido Koopmann

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9 Comments

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  1. Clinton Jones
    PI potentially involves more infrastructure, you have to have somewhere to host this. Doesn’t PI also add more complexity to the implementation? With PI you have more moving parts in your integration solution and in addition more places for you to encounter data flow blockages, since my understanding is that PI supports asynch and synch calls, surely asynch messages can block and build up very quickly unless dealt with quickly or designed with high availability and/or redundancy. WIth BC surely you continue to have the advantage of a source and a target and a relatively straightforward pipe in the form of the BC connector. Messages can be synch or asynch but asynch messages never receive an acknolwedgment and remain on the host if the BC connection is down. Synchs simply time out.

    I also understand that BC 4.8 was recently released and as a result the life of the BC connector has been extended further  – end of maintenance for SAP BC 4.8 will be December 31st, 2017. Note 1094412 – Release and Support Strategy of SAP Business Connector 4.8

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    1. Guido Koopmann Post author
      Hi,

      Well setting up a PI system is not the most easiest job comparing it to the BC but with some experience you will eventuallly will see the benefits of PI over BC. (think of setting up the SLD)

      Best regards,

      Guido Koopmann

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  2. Matthew Harding
    Nice post, but I just wanted to add some thoughts that, correct me if I’m wrong, I don’t believe you covered off above including a significant reason for investing in the larger more complex PI solution. 

    Basically, PI is exceptional in ensuring that messages are never lost (eg. Guaranteed Delivery built into the internals of the PI engine).  Everything is stored in the database, so you know that especially for Guaranteed Delivery messages (like iDocs or Async Web Services); that even if you pull the plug on the PI server that when you start it up, the message will still be there to be processed.

    With BC, you can emulate guaranteed delivery with effort; but the lack of a true database storage mechanism for all messages with message state within the pipeline configuration; means that the scenario of your server dieing means you will lose the message.

    Of course, if you are dealing with non guaranteed delivery mechanisms like file or ftp; then it’s not a big deal; but damn it’s good to just know that PI will never lose a message in integration scenarios.

    For reference, in a previous company, we had lots of issues in the early days of XI 3.0 but we never lost a message which made a potential nightmare situation just annoying (actually more than annoying but you get the idea).

    Another difference, the ESR is pretty important consideration from an Enterprise Services perspective – especially as SAP release more and more services.

    Lastly, on a softer side, I always found BC much more intuitive and easy to pick up; but hopefully in the future, the move to using the Galaxy BPM engine should make this much more intuitive. That and a consensus on the best way to use PI which currently has many different alternate approaches from what I’ve seen.

    Anyway, I hope that is of help,
    Matt

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    1. Guido Koopmann Post author
      Hi Mat,

      At first, when I found the note were BC was not going to be supported anymore we had a good opportunity for migrating the SAP BC to SAP PI for our customers.

      When SAP decided to change the support strategy I became curious why SAP would provide 2 middleware tools and what the similarities and differences are between the 2 middleware tools.

      Best regards,

      Guido Koopmann

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  3. Michael Bennett
    For those that are fortunate to have access to the SAP Professional Journal there is a great article …

    SAP Business Connector 4.8 and SAP NetWeaver PI Compared: When to Use Each 

    that is one of the best I have read to help decide which is the appropriate tool for your requirements.

    All credit to the author of the article, Ulrich Schmidt, Senior Developer, SAP AG.

    Regards, Michael

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  4. Daniel Graversen
    Wow That is a long time to support a product. Is that longer then PI 7.0.

    Daniel Graversen

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    1. Guido Koopmann Post author
      Hi Daniel,

      I could not find anything on the latest support date for SAP PI. But as PI is a successor of the BC, I am assuming there is no date given.

      Best regards,

      Guido Koopmann

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