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Integration Solution Advisory Methodology (ISA-M): Define Integration Guidelines for Your Organization

SAP’s Integration Strategy for the Intelligent Enterprise

Integration is the key enabler for organizations to become an Intelligent Enterprise. SAP’s integration strategy for the Intelligent Enterprise is based on four principles that are depicted in Figure 1:

Figure 1: SAP’s Integration Strategy for the Intelligent Enterprise – Key Principles

Out-of-the-Box Integration: SAP provides integrated end-to-end business processes across SAP applications that build the foundation for the Intelligent Suite. These integrations are built on well-defined APIs including pre-packaged integration content for SAP Cloud Platform Integration.

Open Integration: Beside SAP-to-SAP integrations, SAP provides exhaustive third-party integration capabilities, e.g. provided by the SAP Cloud Platform Open Connectors, that allow any kind of Non-SAP integration with the Intelligent Suite.

Holistic Integration: Based on the SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite and the SAP HANA Data Management Suite, SAP supports all flavors of integrations (e.g. process, data, UX, IoT) across hybrid landscapes (cloud, on-premise, hybrid). In addition, various integration personas are supported (e.g. integration experts, citizen integrator or business domain experts).

AI-Driven Integration:  Beside embedding Artificial Intelligence (AI) into business processes, SAP is also leveraging AI to simplify integration. For example, the Integration Content Advisor for SAP Cloud Platform Integration applies machine learning and crowd sourcing techniques to generate proposals for interface customizing and message mappings.

As part of the holistic integration principle, SAP provides the Integration Solution Advisory Methodology (ISA-M) that helps enterprise architects to shape and document their integration strategy. This blog gives an overview on ISA-M including use cases on how ISA-M can be applied by enterprise architects in their organizations. In addition, we also give an overview on the CIO Guides for integration that provide related SAP technology recommendations. Finally, this blog outlines how to get access to the ISA-M PPT template that we offer for interested customers and partners.

Integration Challenge for Enterprise Architects

With cloud applications, IoT, big data or mobile apps added to existing landscapes, the scope of integration in hybrid landscapes is constantly increasing. This leads to multiple challenges for enterprise architects (Figure 2):

Figure 2: Integration Challenges for Enterprise Architects  

ISA-M supports the enterprise architects to tackle the outlined challenges. It includes a collection of typical integration use case patterns in a hybrid landscape that are technology-agnostic and can be mapped to integration services/technologies in a specific customer context (Figure 3). Being technology agnostic, ISA-M is open and allows to include Non-SAP integration services/technologies into the overall integration strategy of an organization. ISA-M has been successfully adopted in multiple global organizations and learnings have been incorporated into the methodology.

Figure 3: Simplify Integration by Holistic Methodology for Enterprise Architects     

ISA-M Use Case for Enterprise Architects

The goal of ISA-M is to simplify integration and help enterprise architects to manage the complexity in their hybrid landscapes. We see three use cases on how ISA-M can support enterprise architects (Figure 4):

Figure 4: ISA-M Use Cases for Enterprise Architects

First, ISA-M can be used as a taxonomy to structure and organize integration use cases within an organization e.g. to improve the communication between project teams. Second, ISA-M can be used as a methodology to assess and evolve an existing integration architecture e.g. by identify future integration use cases. Third, ISA-M can be used to increase the integration maturity level of an organization by moving from an ad-hoc integration practice to a more systematic way of integration. In this case, ISA-M can be used as a starting point to blueprint a hybrid integration platform including integration guidelines on when to use what integration service/technology (SAP and/or Non-SAP). ISA-M can be embedded as a methodology into an Integration Competence Center (ICC). Based on established integration standards, you could also define areas for self-service integration e.g. by enabling the citizen integrators to implement simple integration scenarios on their own within the context of your overall integration governance. This allows evolving a traditional ICC into a more agile, center of enablement. ISA-M is complementary to enterprise architecture frameworks like TOGAF. The focus of ISA-M is to provide a simple to use approach for enterprise architects to manage the broad range of integration use cases.

ISA-M in a Nutshell

This section gives a brief overview on the methodology which consists of three steps (Figure 5): the entry point are integration domains that outline typical integration areas in a hybrid landscape. The second step are integration styles and use case patterns that provide the enterprise architect a cockpit of typical integration patterns that can be extended/adapted to the specific context of a customer. The last step allows to derive customer-specific integration guidelines by mapping integration styles and use case patterns (technology-agnostic) to integration technologies or services (SAP and/or Non-SAP) that should be used in a specific customer context.

Figure 5: ISA-M Overview     

Next, each step is described in more detail.

Step 1: Integration Domains

Integration domains provide the entry point into ISA-M and can be used as a “big picture” for integration. Integration domains describe typical areas in a hybrid landscape where integration is might be needed (Figure 6). Integration domains are technology agnostic and can be used to structure your integration guidelines. You can do an assessment of your integration architecture by selecting the integration domains that are relevant for your organization or that you might want to further evaluate.

Figure 6: Integration Domains in a Hybrid Landscape     

Step 2: Integration Styles and Use Case Patterns

Integration Styles cover key integration archetypes and build the key pillars of ISA-M (Figure 7): the process integration style connects business processes across applications whereas the data integration style allows to synchronize or access data across applications. The user integration style allows to connect user-centric applications (e.g. mobile apps) with applications whereas the thing integration style allows to connect real world objects (e.g. sensors, machines) with applications. Each integration style can be refined by use case patterns which describe frequently found integration use cases in enterprise landscapes per integration style. Cross Use Cases build a category for all integration-related use cases that complement one or more of the four core integration styles. For example, API-Managed Integration provides full-lifecycle management for APIs that, e.g. can be leveraged in user- or process-centric integration scenarios. All integration styles and use case patterns are technology agnostic and are applicable within multiple integration domains (e.g. cloud, on-premise, hybrid).

Extensible Library: ISA-M includes a typical set of use case patterns that you can use as a starting point for your organization. You can flexibly adjust the library of use case patterns to your specific needs e.g. by adding additional customer-specific use case patterns or removing patterns that are not relevant in your organization.

Figure 7: Integration Styles and Use Case Patterns    

Step 3: Integration Technology Mapping

Finally, integration styles and use case patterns (all technology-agnostic) can be mapped to integration technologies or services (SAP and/or Non-SAP) that should be used in a specific customer context (Figure 8). This mapping highly depends on your specific customer context: for example, following factors might need to be considered in this step: existing and future application landscape, general IT strategy, availability of pre-packaged integration content, existing investments and skillsets etc.

Figure 8: Integration Styles and Use Case Patterns    

Based on the SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite and the SAP HANA Data Management Suite, SAP offers a rich integration portfolio that covers all outlined integration use cases. A sample technology mapping for the process- and data integration style is described in the next section. Further information on SAP integration technologies and recommendations is given in the CIO Guides for integration (see below).

Sample Integration Technology Mapping

As an example, the process integration style can be mapped to SAP Cloud Platform Integration whereas the data integration style can be mapped to the SAP Data Hub. Both technologies are complementary and address different use cases with specific characteristics (Figure 9):

Figure 9: SAP Cloud Platform Integration and SAP Data Hub – Complementary Offerings

SAP Cloud Platform Integration addresses the process integration style with the goal of linking business processes that are distributed across multiple applications within a hybrid system landscape. It supports A2A, B2B, and B2G integration use cases. Typically, the focus of SAP Cloud Platform Integration is on the secure and reliable API-based integration of applications. SAP Cloud Platform Integration leverages a message-based processing paradigm that allows queuing, transforming, routing, and monitoring (including error handling) of exchanged business data on a message level. A key requirement of the process integration style is to guarantee the transactional integrity of an integration scenario that, for example, is ensured by reliable messaging capabilities. Furthermore, SAP offers a broad range of prepackaged integration scenarios for SAP Cloud Platform Integration. In contrast, SAP Data Hub is focused on the data integration style, making it possible to share, pipeline, govern, and orchestrate (mass) data in hybrid landscapes. It provides the ability to expand traditional data warehousing by incorporating Big Data stores and to ingest and process IoT data. SAP Data Hub enriches existing software, such as SAP Data Services or SAP HANA Smart data integration, by modernizing data flows and leveraging new functionality and algorithms, including machine learning and image processing. Typically, data from enterprise applications is accessed on the database level (table/view) outside a transactional business context.

CIO Guides for Integration

Further information and guidance for enterprise architects can be found in following CIO Guides (Figure 10):

Figure 10: Two Complementary Guides for Enterprise Architects

SAP Vision for Integrating SAP Applications in Cloud and Hybrid Environments

  • Describes SAP’s long-term Vision for Integration
  • Key Integration Use Cases
  • API Alignment
  • Process Integration Guidance
  • Data Integration Guidance

Process and Data Integration in Hybrid Landscapes

  • Refined Guidance for Process, B2B and Data Integration
  • Integration Solution Advisory Methodology (ISA-M)
  • SAP API Strategy
  • Integration Automation
  • SAP S/4HANA Transition Guidance

ISA-M Template for Enterprise Architects

For interested customers and partners we provide a free PPT template for ISA-M. It includes the above-mentioned concepts including detailed descriptions and explanations on how to adopt it in a specific customer organization (Figure 11). The template can be used as a starting point to derive integration guidelines for your organization and can be adopted/extended to your specific needs. Based on this template, you can create your customer-specific integration guidance documents. SAP also offers consulting services in case you would need further support.

Figure 11: ISA-M PPT Template

If you are interested in subscribing to the ISA-M template, please send a mail to: matthias.allgaier@sap.com

Further Information

For additional information you can find a recording from SAP TechEd Las Vegas 2018:

https://events.sap.com/teched/en/session/41229

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