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Integration Flows – Start using it right from your Blueprint Phase !

For years, SAP NetWeaver Process Integration has provided an effective mechanism to integrate your SAP and non-SAP systems. The world of integration is meanwhile evolving into a process orchestration game. You do not merely integrate systems, but business processes. And you would definitely like to know how your business integration impacts a particular process.
This has brought a mix of players into the integration projects – Business Process Analysts, Integration Architects and Integration Developers. The various players in the project speak and understand the project from different perspectives. So, a more smarter mechanism of integration is required. This led to the concept of Integration Flows being introduced in the Enhancement Package 1 of SAP NetWeaver Process Integration 7.3.
Integration flows is a major function point for faster integration development, which translates into quick time to project completion. But in this blog, I would like to share information on how integration flows can be used right in your blueprint phase. By blueprint phase, I mean the planning and discovery phase of the project.
Consider a Purchase Order Collaboration process. Your business process analyst provides you the blueprint for the process. As an integration architect, you define the systems and protocols for this particular process. To visually represent this concept, you would do so using boxes and lines. Something like below.
Rough sketch of integration scenario
This is a very intuitive and understandable integration process. What is better – you can use the very notation of BPMN 2.0 to represent this, with the same intuitiveness and also adopting an industry standard.
Integration architects can start with the design, and then later ask developers to fill in the details, too. For example, the specific interfaces and mapping names can be completed by your development team. This can be started in the beginning of your project implementation, the blueprinting phase.
So, what are the benefits of using Integration Flows in your Blueprint Phase ?
  1. Intuitive and easy to understand how the systems connect to define your process. Makes it easy for every one to understand what are the integration goals
  2. Easier to communicate the project details with implementation team
  3. Common language between your business process analysts and integration developers
  4. Recognize integration patterns early in your projects

And, while you are thinking how the whole thing will translate into a final output using the BPMN 2.0 standard, this is how it will look [The diagram below is an actual representation of the Integration Flow using the new tools of 7.31].

Doesn’t it look the same as the drawing above !

BPMN representation of your integration flow 

So, start using Integration Flows as the language for representing your scenarios.

Useful Links:

  1. Enhancement Package 1 of SAP NetWeaver PI 7.3
  2. New to BPMN
  3. PI/XI: Eclipse based integration flows – how to configure them with PI 7.31
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