SAP Cloud Platform Integration: When to use which tool
Before we all go into the holiday mood, I thought I would share some important updates in integration area under SAP Cloud Platform. Over the last 6 month, some of the new services have been introduced under integration umbrella of SAP Cloud Platform. And also some interesting blogs have been shared to get you started. So let’s look at some new offerings here.
To deliver cohesive business operations and to better satisfy business needs, integration is essential for exchanging data and content between systems and applications. There are many different integration services offered with the SAP Cloud Platform. So many times, I received questions as when to use which tool. This blog explains the different integration services available today with SAP Cloud Platform and when to use which technology and what are typical use cases for the individual integration service.
As far as integration is concerned, this blog post will cover 5 main use cases.
I. Orchestrate Processes Across Cloud and On Premises Apps
II. Digital Omni channel Access
III. Internet of Things
IV. Event Processing
V. Data Integration, Data Access, and Data Quality
Let’s start with each use case and which technologies to be used under that use case.
I. Orchestrate Processes Across Cloud and On Premises Apps:
In this use case, you want to integrate and orchestrate processes and data across on premise and cloud systems (sometimes referred to as a hybrid landscape). For this application, you can use following technologies:
1. SAP Cloud Platform cloud connector:
Features an on-premise agent, SSL VPN, destination configuration & security key management in SAP Cloud Platform Cockpit.
- When to use SAP Cloud Platform cloud connector:
– For point to point connectivity and programmatic integration
– Need for connectivity with cloud applications from on-premises systems, but no mediation required, such as mapping, routing, connectivity, security
– Need to replicate the data from on-premises database or BI tools to SAP HANA database running in cloud
- Typical use cases:
– If there is an application running on SAP Cloud Platform and it needs to access some data from on-premises backend system, then there is no need to open the port on firewall. Some examples include:
- Web shop application running in the cloud that integrates with an on-premises business suite for triggering sales orders.
- Analysis and monitoring application in the cloud that analyzes real-time data on HANA and triggers alerts or maintenance requests in a connected on-premises CRM system when certain events happen.
- Employee or manager self-service applications which shall be accessible on mobile devices and outside of the company Intranet and integrate with on-premises ERP systems.
2. SAP Cloud Platform Integration(Formerly known as HANA Cloud Integration – HCI)
- When to use SAP Cloud Platform Integration:
– Need for on-demand to on-demand and on-premises to on-demand integration
– Need of compliance scenarios, such as e-invoicing and payroll, to integrate with legal authorities
– Would like to graphically model integration flows
– When you have more than a handful of systems to integration and you would like to have a central managed tool for integrations, rather than having to hand code applications when connections change.
– When you do not have or want to use an on-premises based integration middleware such as SAP Process Orchestration
– When you do not want to invest into an on-Premise middleware and bear the costs associated with it (system set up, maintenance etc.) (perhaps combine with last bullet)
– Need to process individual messages during integration
– Need for integration with 3rd party technologies
- Typical use cases:
– Consider a Business-to-Government scenario wherein you want to exchange eDocuments with government system for legal and tax compliance. In this case, you can use pre-packaged integration content that will cover both the processes within the Business Suite and the integration with the local authorities
– Suppose the customer wants to build hybrid solution to manage entire sales cycles from account, contacts management to activity, leads and opportunities management etc and also want to extend the mobile reach to access client data at their fingertips. For this use case, they can integrate cloud for sales with the on-premises system using SAP Cloud Platform Integration.
Note: can be used with SAP Cloud Platform, cloud connector to establish on-premises connectivity.
3. SAP Cloud Platform Identity Authentication
- When to use SAP Cloud Platform Identity Authentication:
– When you want to provide user self-services such as configurable self-registration, assistance for forgot password functionality, user profile page with capabilities such as change password, mobile device activation, account activation and upgrade etc.
– When you want to configure access levels and authentication methods per applicatio
– When you want to have administration console functionality that includes user management, application configurations, usage reporting, change logs etc.
- Typical use cases:
– Use Case: Business to Consumer
– Use Case: Business to Business
– Use Case: Business to Employee
Give employees access to multiple applications with a single user name and password authentication and secure single-sign on for cloud applications, and enable administrators to import and upload employee user data. For optimal security, the database is restricted to employees only. The same customization and user import/export features are available as described above.
4. SAP Cloud Platform OData Provisioning:
- When to use SAP Cloud Platform OData Provisioning:
– When customer wants connectivity to SAP Backend using “ODC” or “OData Channel” protocol/adapter i.e. when customer wants to expose backend data in OData format and make it available in cloud for consumption
– When user wants to only connect and expose data from SAP Business Suite syste
– When customer wants to build simple UI applications which use OData services to extract specific data that users can consume on engaging applications
- Typical use cases:
- Mobile application for Human capital management:
Consider a scenario where customer wants to develop a mobile app for human capital management functionalities. Using this app, employees can check leave balance, create new leave request, log their daily work hours, access their compensation related documents etc. In order to create this app, the customer can develop a Fiori UI that uses SAP Cloud Platform OData Provisioning for connectivity to SAP Backend to access all Human Resources related data. The customer can convert that raw data available in the backend database into OData format and then access it in UI by consuming OData services.
- Mobile application in retail industry:
Consider a scenario where customer wants to develop a smartphone app for the retail store. Using this app, the end users can search for the products, check availability of products in store or online, order the product, write reviews about the product etc. For creating this app, customer can use SAP Cloud Platform OData Provisioning to connect Fiori UI to the backend data which may be available in SAP Business Suite system. SAP Cloud Platform OData Provisioning will convert the raw data in backend system to OData format so that the UI application can consume OData service.
II. Digital Omni channel Access
Digital transformation demands that businesses provide multiple channels to customers, partners, and employees such as web, mobile, and via APIs. SAP Cloud Platform, API management can help you securely deliver and scale access to your corporate data and services.
- SAP Cloud Platform API management:
- When to use SAP Cloud Platform API management:
– Need to expose digital assets as APIs across multiple channels to customer, partners and external world so that developers can build apps on top of that
– Need for security and throttling mechanisms for exposed APIs
– Need for performance monitoring and real time analytics of API usage
- Typical use cases:
– Consider an example of a supermarket that wants to provide digital access to its services via mobile app so that customers can order groceries on the go using the app. For that, they need to expose some APIs in a secure way. Also supermarkets can integrate with services provided by 3rd party warehouses and delivery services by consuming the APIs. If supermarkets want to analyze the API usage and make some business decisions based on that, then for all these applications, they can use API Management.
– Another example is delivery services. If they want to expose APIs for providing self-services for end users such as allowing users to calculate shipping costs for a product, auto-generating shipping label upon sale to take it to the local receiver to drop-off etc., then they can use API Management here.
2. SAP API Business Hub
- When to use SAP API Business hub:
– When you want to explore SAP APIs in a central catalog and try it out on sandbox systems
– When customer or partner wants to understand available APIs from SAP, either to get a deeper understanding of the product, or to build Application shells which can be ported to productive environments
- Typical use cases:1. Understand the API capabilities of SAPs product lines, and build applications around that data:
As an example, consider a scenario wherein customer wants to build an app that is available in multiple languages all over the world. For such a functionality, the customer can explore API business hub and he can find an exposed API from SAP which is SAP Translation Hub. The customer can read its documentation, test it out on the sandbox systems, generate the first application using the data exposed by SAP API Business Hub, showcase and test out the dummy data and app functionality and once everything looks good, then, they can simply point to their own productive API endpoints to use Apps.
3. SAP Cloud Platform, OData Provisioning
As mentioned in section I, this service can be used for digital omnichaneel access use case as well.
III. Internet of Things:
Internet of Things touches almost every industry. Starting from R&D, Logistics to service operations, we get IoT relevant data from everywhere and based on that data, we can enhance business processes. For this use case, we can use SAP Cloud Platform, Internet of Things service.
1. SAP Cloud Platform Internet of Things:
- When to use SAP Cloud Platform Internet of Things :
– Need to securely onboard and configure the devices remotely
– Need to send/receive messages to/from the devices
– Collect sensor data and store it in the SAP Cloud Platform persistence layer
– Need support for various transport protocols and message formats
- Typical use cases:
– Consider the scenario of predictive maintenance. In a manufacturing factory, if you want to monitor the equipment in real-time and predict by when a key component of the machine might cause an unplanned machine downtime, you can use IoT services. Remote service engineer supervises these machines. He can verify the machine condition with a real-time machine monitoring dashboard on which the values of the monitored sensors are showed. And he can get real time insights, e.g. whether the machine is in operation, whether sensor values surpass the upper and lower limits, or what is the trend of the sensor values.
– Another use case is from the warehouse company. The warehouse worker uses an app on his smart device. Using IoT services, the app sends order information to the forklift. The forklift autonomously transforms into the necessary configuration needed for the transport such as location, quantity, type, weight or size of the materials to be moved. It goes to the location and lifts/drops off the load. Also usage of forklifts is recorded. e.g. Company A used forklift 1 for 25 minutess and it lifted 500 pounds of load today etc. So using this info, customers can be charged precisely, no charge for idle time and forklift can be used to its max capacity.
2 .SAP HANA smart data streaming:
This is another service that can be used for IoT use case. Its description is as mentioned below in section IV.
3. SAP Cloud Platform remote data sync
Remote data sync service can also be used for IoT scenario where internet connectivity from the area where sensors are installed in intermittent. It has been explained in the section V below.
IV. Event Processing:
If you need to consume high-volume, high-velocity event streams for scenarios such as fraud detection or sensor data as fast as the data arrives, and then capture useful information to enable you to respond immediately, as things happen the technology to use is ‘SAP Cloud Platform, smart data streaming’.
1. SAP HANA smart data streaming:
- When to use SAP HANA smart data streaming:
– Need to incorporate real-time event steam processing and complex event processing based on analysis of streaming data
– Collect event data streaming in from any number of live sources
– Filter and transform the data before capturing high-value data in the SAP HANA database
– Actively monitor incoming data for real-time situation detection, generating alerts/notifications or immediate response
– Continuously compute and publish operational statistics, KPI’s and indices, streaming data to live operational dashboards
- Typical use cases:
– Consider the scenario in Oil and gas industry. Energy regulations requires the production of daily operational activities reports and perform analysis on monthly reports. And they needed to filter that data and do real time analytics on that data. Using SDS, they can collect data streaming coming from sensors and this data is combined with data from other systems such as accounting, financial systems etc. as well as use historical data in SAP HANA and perform analytics on this data.
– Another use case is from the public sector. If there is an earthquake, and immediately following an earthquake, it is necessary to identify which bridges are unsafe. In order to do this, Bridges can be equipped with thousands of optical vibration sensors. Using SDS, you can collect data from these sensors, and then analyze data to detect abnormal vibration indicating that bridge might be unsafe and you can send alerts. So you can perform real time analytics to raise warning ahead of time and prevent potential damage.
2. SAP Cloud Platform Internet of Things :
IoT services can also be used along with smart data streaming service to make IoT applications smarter. It is described in section III above.
V. Data Integration, Data Access, and Data Quality:
Sometimes it requires to perform real time replication of data. And this data is huge and you don’t need all the data, so you want to filter out some data. In such applications, you can use following technologies:
1. SAP HANA smart data integration:
- When to use SAP HANA smart data integration:
– Virtualization- Need to query tables from external systems but don’t persist the results in HANA
– Need to copy existing tables (structure & data) from an external system into HANA-You can have initial load with option for real time replication if the source system supports it
– Integration/ETL – extract data from an external system, transform it using a wide variety of transformations (e.g. filter, join, union, case, pivot, history preserve, etc…), and persist it in HANA or in an external system
- Typical use cases:
– Consider the use case where business users of various industries and countries were maintaining website content globally in different ways and using a variety of different tools. In order to save IT costs, it is required to provide the business users a single platform which enables them to maintain and publish marketing content supporting the entire maintenance process (data maintenance, publications and approvals). Main need is to replicate data and make it available in real time from various sources. It can be achieved using SDI
– Consider another scenario where you need to get data in real time from ERP to HANA. Transactional tables that are very large in nature (~100MM+ records) require special filtering and some other transformations to get only required data. This can be resolved using SDI.
2. SAP Cloud Platform remote data sync
- When to use SAP Cloud Platform remote data sync :
– Need to synchronize huge numbers of remote databases into a consolidated SAP HANA database in the cloud
– Need to perform batch data transfer when network connectivity is intermittent
- Typical use cases:
– Consider the scenario where sensors are connected in a coal mine. And you want to synchronize data collected from these sensors. But the problem is, internet connectivity is intermittent in that mine. So in order to synchronize data, you can use Remote data sync service.
– AP Agile Data Preparation is a self-service data preparation application providing data discovery, integration, and transformation capabilities. Quickly transform your data into actionable, easily consumable information. Built for all types of users – the software can help you drive more successful analytics, data migration, and master data management (MDM) initiatives. Simplify how you access and discoverthe shape of data and become far more productive and agile than you ever dreamed.
3. SAP Cloud Platform Integration (Formerly known as HANA Cloud Integration- HCI):
As mentioned in section I, this service can be used to perform batch and real-time replication of data into the cloud from on premise systems.
4. SAP Agile Data Preparation Application:
- When to use Agile Data Prep:
– When having data quality issues in central master data for building trusted and governed data lakes
– When needing to prepare data for analytics needs (viz, reporting, descriptive and predictive analytics)
– Need for easy data movement from multiple heterogeneous location into a single one.
- Typical use cases:
- Self-Service Data Preparation for Analytics (Reporting, Viz, Advanced Analytics)
SAP Agile Data Preparation gives an easy and seamless experience for business users as well as citizen data scientists to prepare their data for their reporting or visualization needs as well as for their predictive analytics needs. The application offers various ways to prepare your data in a data driven way coming from different places (flat files, relational databases, clipboard content) such as data type transformations (Text, Number, Date), data transformations (Merge, Split, Replace, Duplicate, etc…), data blending (Append, Combine), compute aggregates or new formula columns without needing to write a single line of code.
- Data Quality Issues
SAP Agile Data Preparation offers profiling capabilities to help Business Users detect data quality issues as well as remediate them. They can profile the data in order to easily understand and find data quality issues including standard profiling information such as Min, Max, Length, %null, %blank, distinct values, value patterns, etc. They can also detect and analyze functional dependencies among the columns in their data in order to understand the relationship and discover data quality issues that are not following the detected relationship. The product comes with a suggestion engine that also suggests them some action they should perform in order to harmonize and improve the quality of their data.
In addition to the profiling capabilities, SAP Agile Data Preparation comes with a cleansing and deduplication engine that will give the user the ability to cleanse their data (based on content types such as Addresses, e-mail, phone number, SSN, etc…) and to remove the duplicates. So they can have cleansed and unique dataset.
- Data Migration
SAP Agile Data Preparation offers the ability to connect to any type of source (flat files, relational databases, clipboard content) and to acquire the data in the HANA in-memory platform as worksheets. The user can then use these worksheets to define the logic between the acquired data (merging, cleansing, etc…). Once they are satisfied with the data, they can easily export the prepared results as a HANA table or a HANA calculation view as well as a flat file (csv or excel). They can also generate the preparation logic as a HANA flow graph that can be operationalized in order to put into production the preparation flow in a batch mode or in a near real time mode.
- Master Data Management Initiative
SAP Agile Data Preparation can help organizations with their master data management initiative by allowing them to categorize the data depending on the cleansing results. Business Users as well as Data Stewards can easily filter data that failed to be cleansed as well as filter data that is not compliant with the organization’s data quality policy. Then they can take actions on this filtered data using other SAP products such as MDG.
5. SAP Data Quality Management, microservices for location data service
- When to use SAP Data Quality Management, microservices:
– When you want to verify the address as per postal authority reference data, or standardize the way address looks, or correct the address components
– When you want to find associated geographic coordinates from other geographic data such as zip codes, street address etc.
– When you want to find textual address location from geographic coordinates (Reverse geocoding)
- Typical use cases:
- Validate Address and Geocoding of Business Partners within Business Suite
A pre-built integration of these new Cloud microservices will be provided within SAP ECC, CRM (Traditional On-Premise), and Master Data Governance. This will allow for address validation at point of entry when creating a new customer, supplier, account, contact, etc… Ensure you are optimizing your communication with your business partners and minimizing costs by ensuring accurate address information for delivering products, invoices, etc…
Also append a latitude/longitude with each Business Partner to leverage in downstream spatial analytics.
- Automatically find address based on current location
A common use case is leveraging reverse geocodoing in a mobile application. For example a sales rep. logs into an account/contact management system. The reverse geocoding service can take the sales rep’s current location (LAT/LONG) and provide a list of nearby address(es) to auto enter location information for an account/contact.
Thus is an overall brief introduction of all integration technologies available under SAP Cloud Platform. As you can see, there are lot more services added under integration portfolio of SAP cloud Platform within last 6 months. So before your holidays begin, just try out some of the new services available under SAP Cloud Platform trial account so that once you come back from holidays, you can build some really cool apps by integrating your systems using these services.
Till then, Happy Holidays!!! and see you all next year 🙂
You can learn more about these technologies using the following resources:
- Cloud Connector-Brief guide for beginners
- Get started with SAP Cloud Platform Integration
- Cloud Integration Help
- SAP API Management: Deep dive
- SAP API Management: Overview and Getting started
- Exposing Digital API’s using SAP Cloud Platform Trial – API Management Service
- Try out the SAP Cloud Platform Internet of Things (IoT)
- IoT services-User documentation
- Smart data streaming: Overview
- Remote data sync service: User documentation
- Smart Data Integration available under SAP Cloud Platform Trial account
- Step by step: Setup Smart Data integration on SAP Cloud Platform Trial account
- Smart Data Integration: Video series
- Smart Data Streaming available on SAP Cloud Platform
- SAP Agile Data Preparation Overview
- SAP Cloud Platform, OData Provisioning- Overview
- SAP API Business Hub- Overview
- SAP API Business Hub- Catalog
- SAP Data Quality Management, microservices for location data: Overview
To learn more about SAP Cloud Platform, check out the following resources:
You can also reach out to us via Twitter (@saphcp)