SAP – A Comprehensive Integration Solution?
What is a Comprehensive Integration Solution?
A comprehensive integration solution comprises of the below attributes/capabilities;
6. A Model driven application development (MDD)
The best way to explain this would be to take an extract from the Forrester research on CIS. Forrester has defined the CIS reference architecture model as below;
(CIS Reference Architecture Model – Source: Forrester Research, Inc.)
So how does SAP fare in this department?
The last report from Forrester I got my hands on, evaluated SAP PI 7.1 against market competitors like Oracle, TIBCO, Software AG, IBM etc. SAP was judged a ‘market leader’ while Oracle, IBM, TIBCO and Software AG continued to dominate the CIS market.
Moving forward in time, lets understand what SAP has been doing, and how they have been aligning themselves towards a better, capable CIS framework.
The first and foremost mention should be the Process Orchestration suite. With SAP PO, SAP scales many important milestones. To mention some;
a. Single stack provisioning – Moving away from the dual stack concept, the single stack drastically reduces the TCO and helps in faster installation and maintenance cycles.
b. BPMN support is now addressed with SAP BPM being couple into the suite. SAP has already started recommending its customers to start moving away from the traditional ccBPM solutions.
c. Business Rules get embedded thus enhancing the capabilities, one requires for a CIS framework.
d. With ESR and ID accessibility being ported onto NWDS, SAP is now bridging the gap it had when it came to MDD and a single IDE for all development activities.
B2B – Bridging the gap
Apart from the above mentioned features of SAP PO, the recent B2B Add Ons helps the cause of better support when it comes to B2B and EDI. The B2B add ons along with the SFTP adapter and PGP Module makes a stronger case for SAP today. Apart from the B2B add on, SAP also has SAP Information Interchange (remember Crossgate acquisition?) to help customers in managing their EDI landscape. Hence customers can opt to either implement the B2B Add On (which provides the adapters and conversion modules) for EDI messages or use the SAP II infrastructure. A combination of the two resulting in a hybrid model is also recommended.
This is in my opinion a relatively naive feature/capability when it comes to SAP in comparison to other competitors in the market. In a recent SAP mentor call, I was lucky enough to get insight into what SAP is currently doing in the space of Complex Event Processing (CEP). The existing product suite required to handle requirements around CEP is as below;
(Source: SAP Mentor presentation – 07-March-2012)
As a customer if I need to procure licences for more than 3 products to implement a CEP solution, the above matrix would seem scary. As this point, I am aware that SAP is still working hard around this and hopefully soon we would get more clarity and case studies to understand solutions in the CEP space from SAP.
This today is a gap that SAP need to fill if it needs to refine its ratings in the CIS space.
Managed File transfer
As of today, I am not aware of any solution from SAP in the space of MFT. The closest offering in the space of MFT would be the partner solution from Seeburger (See the announcement here)
While major CIS players have their own MFT solutions or have acquired such solutions, SAP seems to employ the strategy of having their partner provision the solution. So should this be seen as a gap?
Would you favour a SAP provisioned MFT solution than a partner solution? If so vote for this IDEA on Idea Place.
Some other areas of interest in this discussion would be around the support for REST 🙂 . Yes, I agree we have discussed and argued our brains to pulp on the Gateway vs SAP PI usage when it comes to REST and mobility. (Refer this blog by The specified item was not found. and these insights from William Li )
Again, personally I see this as a serious gap. When we talk about a Comprehensive Integration Solution, shouldn’t RESTful services capability be provisioned inline with SAP PI or SAP PO? Why has SAP come out with NW Gateway along with REST adapter in PI (which again is a partner solution) and thus introduced confusion? Is this because they are trying to restrict huge investments on the JAVA side and want to keep the ABAP investments on track (NW Gateway is an ABAP add on)?
Well, answers to these are definitely tough to get. But then its always the questions that drive us, isnt it? Another reason why I believe NW G/W should be ported onto the SAP Process Orchestration suite is that end of the day, the REST service should not only have its backend as SAP but non-SAP applications too. The NW Gateway does not provide access to any system apart from SAP.
Cloud is another interesting dimension. I must admit, I am quite limited in my knowledge on what is happening around Cloud when it comes to a CIS context. Hope that SAP will start publishing information around this sooner or later.
Last but not the least, I would like to ask a question before concluding this blog.
We know that SAP PI/PO is being used widely by customers in their SAP landscape for SAP to SAP and SAP to Non SAP integration needs. But how many of you are aware of customers who are confident of using PI/PO when it comes to Non SAP to Non SAP integration requirements? Have you noticed many shying away from using PI when it comes to this and such requirements generally being realized on the other ESB available in their landscape? What drives them to such a decision?
Note: Do post your thoughts as comments if you feel this is a topic worth discussing further in detail.