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;

Estate.jpg


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.


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18 Comments

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  1. diptee s

    Very well put Shabarish,

    There is indeed a lot to watch out for in the SAP Process Integration and Orchestration space, and your blog is an excellent starter.

    regards,

    diptee

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  2. Christian Loos

    Excellent summary and analysis – thanks for sharing.

    One point I’d make is that the Gateway Java in Process Orchestration definitely has value today, as it can serve as a Gateway hub and connect directly to Gateway-enabled backend systems.

    So you don’t need a separate SAP Gateway (ABAP) system for OData provisioning anymore, which simplifies the system landscape and reduces TCO.

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    1. Shabarish Vijayakumar Post author

      Thanks Christian.

      Yes. If customers plan to implement a HUB deployment model for Gateway ABAP, with Gateway Java, now there is a possibility to reduce the TCO.

      I may have been a bit too harsh with my statement when I say it has ‘No value addition’ as of today but the frustrations are primarily around some of the weird strategy from SAP I have seen in the recent past around technology. ex. Gateway only able to expose SAP data as OData, SAP being high on mobility and customers having to depend upon third party adapters in case of REST  until this month etc

      Most of us are unclear on how the Gateway Java will pan out and if this can one day be positioned as a counterpart to Gateway ABAP with the added functionality that even Non-SAP data can be exposed as OData. Will be great to see the roadmap on this.

      But overall, really glad to see the innovations in the area of integration and orchestration 🙂

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      1. Muniyappan Marasamy

        Hi Shabarish,

        We have rest adapter from SAP now.

        i have to integrate ECC with webportal which is accessed using desktop,mobile and tablets.

        we have PI 7.4 dual stack and Gateway in our landscape.

        Which one i should pick for this?

        it was clear for us to go for gateway before rest adapter availability.

        now totally got confused 😐

        Regards,

        Muni

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        1. Shabarish Vijayakumar Post author

          tough one to answer 🙂

          But let me tell you what would be an ideal desire from architecture perspective. One would want to have a central tool to expose backend functionality as REST or OData for a heterogeneous landscape. If i translate this into technology capability, then;

          1. Gateway ABAP – Only exposes SAP backend as an OData service. No REST.

          2. SAP PI/PO – Can expose any backend as a REST service (not OData)

          3. Integration Gateway on PI – Can right now only consume a backend Gateway ABAP service and proxy it as OData calls

          4. Integration gateway on SMP – Can expose a limited (but realistic set) of backend (SAP and Non-SAP) as OData service

          So my point is that there is no true one solution from SAP that supports ‘Any backend’ to be exposed as either ‘OData or REST’. One might argue that API management could potentially be a future candidate. But I see that to have very specific usecase.

          It leaves us to then make a tough choice. I would prefer to have FIORI type use cases on Gateway ABAP and then see all other RESTful enablement via SAP PI/PO.

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            1. Shabarish Vijayakumar Post author

              Haven’t tried the approach mentioned in the blog. But having said that, from 7.4 I think you can easily expose backend ABAP as a REST service. No need for Gateway too perhaps. Need to confirm this though.

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              1. Sandeep Sharma

                Thanks for the response

                And also if ODATA service is exposed i can use REST adapter to get data instead of using ODATA adapter.

                or do i need still use ODATA adapter?

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                1. Shabarish Vijayakumar Post author

                  OData is standardized REST in many ways. If you use the REST adapter available in PI, you can only provision and consume REST services and not OData services. So we need to be aware that a REST service will not give you the feature you get with the OData protocol.

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  3. Eduardo Chiocconi

    Shabarish,

         Thanks for putting your thoughts together. Coming from you also brings a different perspective than product guys talking about it.

         I wanted to make a comment on the API Management solution. API Management can produce PROXIES on top of real services. This is where PO + API Management make a very important combination. The main use case we see is that creating a proxy that can create variations mediating a existing single service is much faster than creating clones of a service itself. Let alone the fact that you may want to expose the consumption externally that broadly justify the introduction of a layer like API Management on top of your on-premise or on-demand SOA efforts.

         Again, thanks for putting this together.

                      Eduardo.

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  4. Paul Dikobe

    Hello Shabarish,

    This is a very useful Information that is also the latest update.

    Keep this blog alive, since this is one of the most important area of the SAP Ecosystem.
    Could you please share additional Information or a link about “RDS for B2B”? If possible, also the pricing model.

    Regards

    Paul Metusala DIKOBE

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  5. Atul Mehrotra

    Hello Shabarish,

    Excellent summary!

    I have a customer who currently use multiple non-sap SaaS applications running on the cloud. What advantage does HCI offer over PO for integrating on-premise SAP system with non-sap applications on the cloud?

    PO has a B2B adapter while HCI doesn’t have one. SO, if you are planning to implement EDI interfaces along with integrating with non-sap cloud applications then does using PO makes more sense than using HCI?

    Thanks in advance for taking time to answer these questions.

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    1. Shabarish Vijayakumar Post author

      My understanding is that HCI becomes a candidate if your primary business application is itself hosted in the cloud or in a case where a good percentage of your applications are in the cloud and you have a very lean on premise estate.

      In the scenario you have mentioned, it seems to be more of a case for SAP PO to be your integration tool. You can very well integrate with your SaaS applications and utilize the B2B capabilities for those specific needs.

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