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Two weeks ago we joined twenty SAP customers and –partners in the design council workshop for SAP cloud platform integration and API Design. This is an event organized by SAP in which they show future developments, ask for feedback on these developments and listen to customer- and partner experiences with the existing functionality.

The events took place over three days divided into two main parts, SAP cloud platform integration and API design.

 

SAP cloud platform integration (Tuesday and Wednesday morning)

The first day SAP started explaining the upcoming B2B capabilities of SAP cloud platform integration, the first implementation of transport management, the regression test service, the availability of JMS queueing and the status on the WebUI.

Transport management is not available yet, but it is coming soon. The first implementation will be based on CTS+, so customers with SAP Solution Manager will soon be able to use this for their SAP cloud platform integration transports.

The regression test service is a great addition to the cloud services provided by SAP, but please be aware that this service is a paid service and that the sending and receiving systems are simulated. So you need to provide the messages coming from and going to these systems to SAP when signing up for this service.

JMS queueing is now also available for use in custom iFlows (until now this was only used by standard Ariba iFlows). This makes it possible persist messages in queues and then restart these queues completely or restart single messages. This can all be done from the webUI (both automatically and manually).

For us, this is especially interesting with regards to the exactly once flows we have created using the datastore and through SFTP, but of course this can be used in all asynchronous interfaces.

Next to what was shown in the morning about upcoming B2B capabilities, we had a design thinking session in the afternoon about additional capabilities we would like to see in the future. We had some very interesting sessions and some great ideas came up from the group that we hope they will be incorporated in future releases.

The first day closed with a roadmap presentation on SAP cloud platform integration.

 

The second day started with a couch session in which everyone was asked about their experiences with both SAP cloud platform integration and API design. It was great to hear about the experiences of other customers and partners and we had some good feedback from SAP on our concerns. One being the lack of updates on SAP cloud platform integration during the last months, which was caused by a lot of resources being busy with bringing the WebUI on par with Eclipse and with implementing standard content for other SAP products, like Concur, C4C, SuccessFactors etc. SAP cloud platform integration is for sure becoming increasingly important for these products!

Looking at the topics on the roadmap the resource problems have been overcome and a lot of new things are coming in the next half of this year.

After the couch session, we were shown a presentation on how SAP wants to improve monitoring in SAP cloud platform integration.

Until now the monitoring was a bit awkward, but if SAP can implement all that was shown, it will really become much easier to monitor the iFlows. For example by enabling us to drill down to the exact point the error(s) occurred in combination with the tracing abilities in the WebUI.

Next to that they have also supplied a lot of new APIs related to monitoring that can be used in custom built UIs.

The last, scheduled, SAP cloud platform integration session was about reusability of objects. The group was asked which objects they wanted to be able to reuse in SAP cloud platform integration and we had a nice discussion with SAP whether they were feasible or even required from their point of view.

One step towards reusability has already been taken in the latest release (June 2017), since it is now possible to see all objects used in an iFlow under the Resources tab:

During the morning session we expressed our concerns about message mapping in SAP cloud platform integration and therefore an additional session was scheduled to discuss our questions and remarks. SAP asked us to come up with a top 5 list of most important topics. For this we split up in three groups and first discussed the topics within these groups, after that we prioritized our topics and came up with one list across all groups.

Topics we discussed were testing of the message mappings, storing test messages, displaying of queues while testing and multi-mappings.

With that we closed the SAP cloud platform integration part.

 

API design (Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning)

The API sessions started with an overview of API management by the product manager. It was a good introduction to APIs and clearly showed the capabilities of API management. The only thing we would have liked was a deeper dive into the synergies between SAP cloud platform integration and API management, but that may be a topic for the next design council.

Another presentation we were shown during the afternoon was that on machine learning. SAP showed us some examples of machine learning and how they could be used in real life. These examples were quite impressive, but it also showed that machine learning is, at the moment, still meant for big companies that can provide lots of data based on which the machines can “learn”.

The day closed again with a road map session. This time on API management.

The last day we tested a mockup, created in BUILD, of the SAP API hub. Using BUILD this session provided SAP with feedback on what were the hotspots in the UI and where we made comments. This was just a short session taking us into the next one where we used the API hub to discover the APIs (> 75 APIs) already available for S/4 HANA.

This session was again a design thinking session in which we were asked what is important while using the API hub and the APIs from S/4 HANA. Again, some great ideas came up and we hope that these will help with the usability of the APIs.

All in all the design council was a very nice experience and we really felt we could contribute with our ideas.

Thanks to all the people who joined, customers, partners and SAP!

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