Yesterday at the keynote at SAPTeched on of the things, that I really enjoyed was the SAP Graph tool they showed off.
The idea with SAP Graph is to make an API where users can navigate all their data without worrying about if it is was located and in an easily accessible way. With the graph, you can also browse a customer and then get the customers orders in the next API call.
I have not gotten to try Graph yet, so all here is based on my assumptions.
Why does it make sense
That is one of the big challenges that SAP facing in the new world of Cloud Applications like SuccessFactors, Ariba and more. One of the things they highlighted as a part of the End to End processes they have been working on. To take business objects across a Procure to Pay process and figure out which of the systems it would relate to.
SAP has been talking about aligning master data objects and harmonizes the data across the landscape. This is then even a step further and also includes transaction objects. Which make the process even better.
I see it be used both by SAP as well as a third-party developer. Internally in the SAP Applications, it would greatly simplify the development, if such a tool could provide the master data and transactional data access. Then a developer could just get a customer, without caring about where that data exists.
It will greatly reduce the requirement for doing integration all data can be access from just one place with one standard method. You will therefore not have to consider where you need to get the data from and why there is a different way of querying SuccessFactors or S4 data. It will all be in one seamless way.
How does it differ
There are a lot of other companies that have different graph APIs that allow you to query data via it. The SAP part would be able to access and know your SAP landscape and would be a lot easier to use because you do not need too much mapping of data structures.
How does Graph work
Graph is a new SAP endpoint that allows users to have a harmonized API that gives one way to access SAP data. The Graph system will be connected so it knows that if you have a Purchase Order from an employee, you can then expand and get that employee data even it is coming from a separate system.
On the website, there is an example of how the service works.
It looks like it is a REST call. It was also my impression of how it looked at the keynote. For a demo, REST is preferred, because it is much easier to view. I would have assumed that it would be Odata because keeping the metadata would make it much easier to create UI on top. Maybe Odata will come in the future.
I do have a number of questions:
- Will also be if there is going to be some data that is synchronized to the graph repository or it will pull data in realtime from more systems.
- If you can have an employee object from SuccessFactors and it then can view extra fields from Ariba or S4.
- How much configuration can you set up, so you can also get sales data from SalesForce?
- Can you make extensions of your data objects, that every SAP customer is doing?
What is the status of Graph
You can signup on Graph.sap to request early access. It is currently an email you need to send which probably says there is some work to be done.
From the different SAP people I have talked with, it seems like SAP Graph is still in early development status. So there is a long way to go before users will be able to work with it on the real systems.
It is a huge project that SAP has started on here. I hope they will be able to give some access to the data and then be able to deliver it to customers.