I must admit that I wrote the blog, SAP and Integration: The Dark Clouds May Have Just Passed! with mild optimism. Optimistic about the strategy of SAP around integration given that we are today in a world moving rapidly to hybrid environments and the new integration challenges being fixated around;
1. On-Premise to On-Premise – OP2OP (A2A)
2. Business to Business (B2B)
3.On-Premise to Cloud (OP2C)
4. Cloud to Cloud (C2C)
5. User to Cloud (U2C)
6. User to On-Premise (U2OP)
In the SAP TechEd && d-code this year at Berlin, SAP took all the effort to reiterate and showcase its integration and orchestration portfolio. The highlights of which would be as follows;
1. Continuous improvements in SAP Process Orchestration, strengthening the On-Premise Integration platform.
a. Effective tooling with more and more features being continuously added to Eclipse/NWDS
b. Added functionalities to the Connectivity Add-On (SFSF adapter etc)
2. HANA Cloud Integration (HCI) released in Standard and Premium Editions, evolving itself to be the Cloud Integration platform.
a. Pre-packaged integration content
b. Openness – Partner innovation to develop connectors, content etc
c. Interoperability between HCI and SAP PO (ex. mappings)
3. SAP now has its own API Management solution
a. Delivered via partnership with Apigee
b. Simplicity of modelling stands out
c. Comes power packed with features
d. Available to be deployed both on-premise and on cloud
e. Core conceptual or rather the technical model includes the API Platform, API Analytics and Developer Services
4. OData takes centre stage
a. Gateway (ABAP) feature enhancements continue on (ex. server side and client side caching). If you want OData out of a SAP system, Gateway is the thing!
b. Integration Gateway (Java) on the SAP Mobile platform provides option to OData enable non-SAP systems (restricted to JDBC, SOAP, JPA and SAP Gateway data sources)
c. OData now also comes to SAP PO via Integration Gateway ported onto PI
5. Processes get more intelligent and Smart
a. SAP Operation Process Intelligence running on HAHA delivers an innovative solution around predictive analytics and collaboration
b. Real-time operational intelligence across big processes with visibility, insight and action
c. Spanning multiple people or org units, across multiple systems (SAP and Non-SAP), now process can be modelled with KPIs and workflow integration
d. All of this is then generated into a dashboard (UI5 based) – Very minimum code via the magic ‘Generate’ Button
6. B2B is high on adrenaline
a. Since SAP released the B2B add on, there has been constant patches released with added features and functionality
b. A License consolidation meant B2B add on now included as part of the SAP PO licence and no additional fee.
c. Trading partner management solution is embedded into the overall B2B solution
d. One screen B2B dashboard making the supportability, tracking and overall monitoring easy.
e. Automatic certificate rollover feature added
f. B2B content reducing the overall TCD. SAP also offers RDS for B2B (More details – Log into http://service.sap.com/rds-edi )
g. One incredible innovation is around Integration Advisor. This feature promises to deliver a feature that will reduce the overall message implementation (EDI message mappings etc) efforts significantly via message definition and mapping proposals and predictions.
So a simple representation of the various integration and orchestration capabilities that SAP Provides can be summarized into the below diagram;
Some key notes on the product inventory;
1. The strategic On-Premise integration solution will be SAP Process Orchestration. B2B add on will be deployed on SAP PO. Thus PO can be your organizations B2B hub.
2. The strategic Cloud integration solution is HCI
3. SAP Operational Intelligence is not an integration platform but a solution that utilizes the varied integration solutions (esp. BPM) to deliver the promise of a smart process
That leaves us with Gateway, API Management and Integration Gateway. Now these solution are key when it comes to mobility and web solutions. And on a closer inspection, they deliver almost the same solution yet retaining unique features of their own. My understanding is that Gateway (ABAP) solution will continue to stay and this will be an option to expose SAP business functionalities to the outside world. Meanwhile, SAP wants to push the OData agenda aggressively. Thus we see a desperate attempt at enabling OData not only for SAP applications but Non SAP applications too.
Note: API management has its own strong use-case. So as long as the product integrates well into the existing technology stacks of SAP, it should retain its leading edge.
Integration Gateway in SAP PO currently in its form is almost a useless solution. As of today, the only feature available is for PO (via Integration gateway) to connect to a Gateway (ABAP) system and consume an existing OData service. This is almost of NO value addition. What would be really worthwhile is a solution that can both consume and provision OData, additional expose any data source as OData.
But SAP promises to develop Integration Gateway in SAP PO further. And we might end up soon seeing Integration gateway in SAP PO become the Java counterpart of the Gateway (ABAP), providing hopefully all of the existing Gateway (ABAP) like features, the important aspect being that this time it would not only be able to have an ABAP backend as a data source but any backend. This would then leave customers;
1. To decide on when to use what technology decision based on skills and overall EA strategy
2. With an opportunity to consolidate on the integration estate i.e SAP PO for OP2OP, OP2C, B2B, U2OP use cases.
We will have to wait and watch this space for at this point we can merely speculate as I am sure we can expect a diplomatic silence from SAP.
Last but not the least, one open question might be in case of a hybrid landscape, how do we see the debate on SAP PO vs. HCI being addressed. Though there are no simple answers, a high level approach could be based on the proximity of the core business application. If the core business application(s) is on-premise, then SAP PO else if the core business application(s) resides in the cloud, use HCI.
Hope this blog helps the reader with a detailed summary and will help them keep abreast with the technological advances in the area of Integration and Orchestration.
PS: One of the common questions across many of the integration sessions were around the strategic directions, when to use what scenarios etc. I hope some of those queries would have been now answered via this blog. But a note of caution, these are just my individual views and in no way do I represent SAP.