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Author's profile photo Krishnakumar Ramamoorthy

SAP Netweaver Process Integration (PI) Roadmap at SAP TechED LV 2011

I attended the session on SAP PI roadmap (Session ID: PMC 202) by Sindhu Gangadharan and want to share with you, some of my observations here.

Overall, when compared to last year, I didn’t hear many new capabilities this year. But I would say, that’s not a bad thing either. If you tuned into Vishal Sikka’s keynote, the overarching theme was “Ongoing Renewal”. In my simple mind, I understood his bottom line message as “SAP has made some pretty cool innovations around In-memory computing, Mobility and the Netweaver Platform. Now it’s time for the customers and partners to go through the process of renewal to put these innovations to use”.

To that point, SAP PI 7.3 comes packed with some pretty cool features most of which were widely discussed during last year’s TechEd. Going in to this session, I really wanted to hear how many of these features were tested out during Ramp up and what has actually found its way in to PI 7.3 that went into GA in May 2011. The speaker did a great job on covering most of these areas and I want to share some of the features that are noteworthy here.

First of all, looks like PI as a whole is gaining good traction. In Vishal Sikka’s keynote, it was stated that there are around 5000+ customer on BPM/PI. I would think atleast 80% of them are PI customers which is growing at 200 new customers per quarter. You would wonder why we are clubbing the PI and BPM numbers together, hold on to your thoughts, I will cover this a little bit later.

Now, let’s turn our attention to the ramp up numbers. Around 40 customers and 40 partners took part in the ramp up and Sindhu identified the following capabilities that the ramp-up customers benefited from:

  • Improved design governance: This has been one of value proposition for Enterprise Service Repository for quite sometime. So I wasn’t very sure about what is new in PI 7.3 that is unique around governance. May be the ease of development and configuration might have resulted in better governance. The speaker did talk about a customer who had 14,000 interfaces running in PI and I can say, for them, any improvement in design governance would be a great addition.

  • Java only deployment option of PI: By far, this was the most important capability in PI 7.3 that I was excited about when I heard about it in last year’s TechED and looks like customers are also looking this as a valuable option. Plus, the innovations in the Neweaver layer and functional completeness based on Java 6 SE has seemingly improved the product in performance and stability. The speaker stated the restart times of Java stack have been significantly reduced to 90 seconds because of these improvements.

  • Standards based interoperability: One of the newest features in PI 7.3 is the support for publish/subscribe capabilities using JMS topics. I am not sure how many of ramp up customers might have used this capability but I understand many customers wanted publish/subscribe support for a long time.

  • Improved Central Monitoring: Integration with Solution Manager in PI 7.3 enables centralized monitoring of interfaces. Though this is a nice capability, in my experience, it is going to take sometime for customers to adopt this because the usage of Solution Manager for operations support is still evolving in customer landscapes.

Now, what to look for in PI 7.3, Ehp1 that will be in ramp up by Q4 of this year?

  • Eclipse based tooling: There was a teaser on this functionality during last year’s TechED but this year, there was a real working demo of the Eclipse plug-in that can be used for design and configuration of interface objects in PI. In the demo, the tool did seem to perform well and the screens were user friendly, so this is something that I would look forward to in Ehp1.

  • The tool also enables unified design and configuration of interface objects through iFlows, which is pretty cool.
  • There will be also functional completeness of IDOC adapter, JMS adapter’s publish/subscribe capability, end to end message packaging in SOAP adapter, SSL support in JMS etc.
  • If you recollect, earlier in the blog I had stated that we will talk about why the BPM and PI numbers have been clubbed. In Ehp1, there will be improved integration between PI and BPM. The integration will be through Java Proxy communication. Also, BPM and PI can co-exist in the same environment, under a same System ID.
  • Another thing to note is that through services based mapping, interface mappings can be re-used in the BPM as well.
  • Yet another interesting area that was discussed was around enhanced B2B support in SAP PI. In the past, SAP has relied on 3rd party adapters like Seeburger for supporting EDI in SAP PI. However, with the new roadmap, there will be enhanced support for B2B scenarios like EDI, SFTP support etc. This will be an interesting thing to watch.

Overall, though there weren’t many super cool innovations in SAP PI, announced this year, I like the fact that SAP has worked on functional readiness of the application rather than stuffing up the product with more features. Also in the strategic roadmap, I see there will a lot more BPM ↔ PI Integration and capabilities around improving the performance of the application. Some new adapter capabilities like Rest API and/or oData support are also in the horizon. One thing I didn’t hear and I was happy for it was that there will be PI running on HANA in the future. Though technically possible and might even make remote sense for some high performance scenarios, this is one of the few sessions, I didn’t hear anything on HANA.

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      Author's profile photo Bhavesh Kantilal
      Bhavesh Kantilal
      For summarizing this so well. For me the most exicting feature to look forward to is definitely the integration of BPM & PI into a single product. Most other vendors have such capabilities and the native support into a single product / server will go a long away.

      When that happens, Integration Use Cases on SAP PI will change drastically and might involve most of us old time PI developers brushing up on our NW BPM skills. Exciting  ( or challenging if one is averse to change ) times ahead!

      Support for JMS topic is something new and again finally a convincing option to the nay-sayers who say PI does not support Pub - Sub models. 

      Does that mean we will have a Messaging Backbone on SAP PI with inbuilt capabilities or will customers still have to rely on external vendors for messaging infrastructure?


      Author's profile photo Krishnakumar Ramamoorthy
      Krishnakumar Ramamoorthy
      Blog Post Author
      Thanks for your comments. The pub/sub model in PI is still to be tested in real world. One of my customer is planning to go for this and will probably land up using the JMS server that comes as a part of Netweaver. Time will tell..
      Author's profile photo Fred Verheul
      Fred Verheul
      Hi Krishnakumar,

      Thanks for posting this great summary! This is really valuable for someone like me who is 'staying at home' during TechEd Las Vegas.
      I don't agree with you though that there's not much news in Enh. Pack 1 for NW 7.3. I think that the co-deployment option (PI+BPM) is pretty cool and should help customers adopt nwBPM (there is still a lot to be done here IMO), and the Eclipse plugin should make development easier (through combined design+config). Where can I download that one btw?
      Can't wait for Madrid, when I'll be able to see this for myself.
      Thanks again!

      Cheers, Fred

      Author's profile photo Krishnakumar Ramamoorthy
      Krishnakumar Ramamoorthy
      Blog Post Author
      Fred, thanks for your comments. Sindhu said there is an update site for this plug in. I need to check the TechED material to see if this has been provided. Didn't see one yet. Have fun in Madrid, one of my favorite cities..
      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      It was so Good to have a note on 7.3 Product Developments in advance. Though there wasn't any new features added SAP has given an attempt to fill most of the functional gaps this time in a better manner.

      Thank you so much for sharing the Teched updates on PI

      Cheers 🙂

      Author's profile photo Shabarish Vijayakumar
      Shabarish Vijayakumar
      thanks for summarizing this...
      I am looking forward to Madrid !


      Author's profile photo Daniel Graversen
      Daniel Graversen
      Hi Krishnakumar,

      true there was not a lot of new innovation on the PI system.
      I like the idea with the iFlows(Why should all start with i) and the eclipse based flows. It may be easier to develop based on it. It seems much easier to understand and faster.

      for the BPM it seems like the current release could not support all the options nessary for developing integrations and it was not fast enought. If I was to start as a new customer, i would start using the BPMN. Then you only needed the java stack. So you would only have half the foot print.

      Author's profile photo Arpit Goyal
      Arpit Goyal
      They are not iFlows, they are called Integration Flows.
      Author's profile photo Sindhu Gangadharan
      Sindhu Gangadharan
      Hello Krishnakumar,
      This is an excellent summary of the PI roadmap session. You have captured all the key aspects mainly:
      1) BPMN also for Process Integration
      2) Ease of development in PI via the Eclipse graphical environment and the Integration Flows
      3) Reduced TCO for PI via the single stack deployment option
      4) Reduced TCO via Solution Manager based monitoring and operations
      Also it is great to see that your blog has triggered a huge interest in the PI sessions especially from the community members who will be at Tech-Ed Madrid.
      Absolutely agree that we have some exciting topics moving forward!
      Besr Regards,