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How to define Integration Strategy for your projects?

We from SAP Global Center of Expertise in SAP Customer Success have been engaged in many projects for helping SAP customers to sharp their Integration Strategy during the digital transformation. In this blog, I want to share some ideas and experiences during the delivery of SAP Integration Strategy Service under SAP Premium Engagement.

 

Background

With the acceleration of business changes, SAP customers are rushing to digitally transform and adopt cloud solutions and Intelligent enterprise capabilities. Leveraging intelligent technologies to outstanding business outcomes requires a foundation of seamlessly integrated business processes and solutions. During the SAP S/4HANA transformation, enterprise architects must consider a constantly increasing integration scope such as public cloud, private cloud and legacy systems integration. Due to these reasons, integration is playing a important roles as businesses pursue seamless integration in the business process, and a solid integration strategy is the key for providing the flexibility and agility to meet business needs which now changes rapidly.

 

Integration Challenges

During the SAP S/4HANA transformation, the customers have similar challenges and questions:
-How to start to define the integration strategy for my organization?
-When to use what integration technology in different integration patterns?
-How to define integration guideline for our organization/project?
-How to securely integrate cloud solution with our legacy Data Center?
-What are the Pros & Cons of using certain SAP integration tools versus Non-SAP Integration tools.
-What are the preferred protocols to be used to integrate with SAP S/4HANA? –RFC, IDoc, Web services, or with API and Events? “

These are the typical questions we help to address during SAP Integration Strategy service. To address these questions, we recommend following the top-down approach below to define the integration strategy using SAP Integration Solution Advisory Methodology (ISA-M). For more details, refer to https://www.sap.com/services/integration-solution-advisory-methodology.html

 

How to define the Integration Strategy?

SAP provides Integration Solution Advisory Methodology that supports enterprise/integration architects in shaping their integration strategy and building a hybrid integration platform for their organizations. It includes an extensible set of integration styles and use-case patterns that are technology agnostic and can be mapped to integration technologies relevant for a specific customer context (for both integration technologies from SAP and third parties).

SAP Integration Strategy Service also applies the ISA-M and builds Integration Strategy together with Enterprise/Integration architects of our customers. In most engagements, the following are the major steps we use to start to define the Integration strategy with SAP customers.

  1. Assess your existing integration landscape and integration technology

In this step, enterprise/integration architects assess the existing integration landscape and available integration tools, review any integration tools or technology which plan to be phased out during the transformation, and prepare the interface inventory for existing landscape if needed.

  1. Clarify the To-Be Application Architecture and possible Integration Domains.

The step is to get a clear picture of the High-level application architecture.

Clarify what applications will be in To-Be Landscape. Enterprise/Integration architect also need to understand what type of these applications are, such as are they public SaaS, application deployed on private cloud, legacy application on customer Data Center, or MicroServices running on PaaS environment?

Based on the high-level application architecture, enterprise/integration architect need to clarify what high-level critical integration points are across these applications. e.g. SAP S/4HANA and SAP Ariba will have bi-directional integration for procure-to-pay process. This can help the enterprise/integration architects to define relevant Integration Domain for To-Be Landscape. The following diagram is a sample case. In this case, we identify Cloud2Cloud, OnPremise2Cloud, B2B and OnPremise2OnPremise are the relevant integration domain for To-Be architecture.

                                 Figure 1.  Integration Domain example 

  1. Understand the To-Be integration technologies and their capabilities

Once the integration domains are identified, enterprise/integration architects can start to list all the relevant integration tools available for each of the integration domains and have a deep understanding of their capabilities. Are they designed for high volume data integration, user integration or event-based integration? If possible, prepare capability map of these tools.

On the other hand, more and more cloud service providers now provide native integration or integration contents. E.g. SAP deliver the pre-package integration content runs on SAP Cloud Platform Integration (CPI) to accelerate the integration implementation. Therefore, it is important for enterprise/integration architect to evaluate these native integration options from different vendors versus using existing integration tool to do custom integration development.

  1. Identify typical integration uses patterns for each integration domain

ISA-M includes four integration styles (see the following figure), including process integration, data integration, user integration, and thing integration.After the high-level scoping of integration domains, enterprise/integration architects can identify the customer-specific integration use case patterns that are relevant to their organizations, and then associate the customer-specific use cases patterns with one of the integration styles.

Figure 2.  Integration Style and Use Case Patterns – from Process and Data Integration in Hybrid Landscapes

The following is one example that for the customer-specific user case – SAP S/4HANA with SAP SaaS (For example, SAP SuccessFactors) integration. This customer-specific use case is under OnPremise2Cloud Integration Domain and belongs to Process Integration style which is one of the four integration style mentioned above. SAP CPI with pre-package integration content is the recommended integration tool in this use case. And SAP Cloud connector is also required as one of the building blocks for this integration use case.

                                 Figure 3.  One example of use case patterns

  1. Map the integration technology with integration patterns – Decision Matrix

Once all possible use case patterns are identified, enterprise/integration architects can start the integration tool evaluation for each of these user case patterns. The mapping to integration technologies / services highly depends on the specific customer context. Customer Context can be existing investment, existing skillset of the IT team, IT/Enterprise strategy, project schedule and so on.

Different customers can have different decision when selecting the integration tools on the same integration user case. For example, one customer would prefer integrating their S/4HANA with SAP SuccessFactors using SAP CPI as the integration platform. As they are planning to migrate existing on-premise applications to multiple SAP SaaS solution, there will be more and more integration points in Cloud2Cloud and Cloud2OnPremise integration domain. It makes sense to leverage SAP CPI to be the strategic integration platform for hybrid landscape. For the same integration use case, another customer may choose to use their existing SAP Process Orchestration as middle-ware for integrating their SAP S/4HANA since they don’t have other initiatives to migrate to SaaS solutions in the next 5 years. They don’t want to introduce another integration platform and their IT team is very knowledgeable about SAP PO, and they don’t have plan to build new knowledge in short term.

Once integration tool mapping is done, enterprise/integration architects can start to build the Decision Matrix, see below example.

Figure 4.  Decision Matrix Example – from Process and Data Integration in Hybrid Landscapes

  1. Define Architecture Blueprints and Integration Guidelines.

Based on the user case pattern identified and integration technology mapping, enterprise architects can attach blueprints to selected use case patterns that outline the involved components and their interactions. Define the integration guideline such as integration protocol guide and re usability guidance. If needed, define the interface migration strategy following newly defined architecture blueprints and integration guidelines.

 

How SAP Premium Engagement service can help our customers to build up the SAP Integration Strategy?

SAP offers SAP Integration Strategy service which helps our Premium Engagement Customers to sharp their Integration Strategy.

  1. Delivery Approach and Scope
  • The workshop mainly focuses on the system/application integrations to help the customer define overall integration strategy and roadmap during SAP S/4HANA and Cloud transition. ​
  • We will start with the preparation to review existing and planned solution landscape, current integration architecture, integration pain points and concerns, etc. ​
  • During an onsite workshop, the SAP Integration Solution Advisory Methodology (ISA-M) will be explained to drive integration middleware decision and define overall integration strategy. Then we will review key integration scenarios (Cloud, SAP S/4HANA, etc) using SAP ISA-M to help the customer define the integration strategy. ​
  • In addition, different SAP integration technologies and products will be explained to help the customer better understand the capabilities and usage scenarios.
  1. Value and Benefits
  • Validate integration concerns and pain points for the current environment/solutions​
  • Share the knowledge of SAP Integration Strategy and Integration Solution Knowledge (when to use what?) and product roadmap.
  • Help our customer to identify their critical integration user case patterns.
  • Provide expert recommendation of integration tools selection for critical integration use cases and support the decision making.
  • Support the customer to build up the first version of Decision Matrix.

 

For more information on SAP Premium Engagement, please check out at

https://www.sap.com/services/premium-engagement.html

So what is your integration strategy? Here is a quick self-assessment to find out

https://www.sap.com/dmc/exp/2020-05-68434/en-us/index.html

 

 

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