Cloud Connector, explained in simple terms
In this blog post I will try to explain what Cloud Connector ☁️ 🔗 is, without getting too technical, and I will include some examples of business process/integrations/functionality that Cloud Connector enables.
Let’s start with what is Cloud Connector and what does it do?
Cloud Connector is an application that can be installed on a Windows, Linux, Mac OS operating system, which creates a secure connection to the SAP “cloud”, so that SAP Cloud products can communicate securely with systems in a customer’s on-premises/private cloud landscape.
Note: For simplicity purposes I will refer to on-premises/private cloud systems as internal systems.
Are there alternative ways for SAP Cloud products to communicate with internal systems?
Sure, these internal systems can be exposed directly to the internet but that will not be secure. This might end up requiring opening the firewall to allow communications with the internal system(s), which is another security risk, and a malicious actor can end up trying to attack our systems. Generally, it is not recommended to expose your critical operational systems to the internet 😃
Then, how can Cloud Connector allow communication from SAP Cloud products without exposing my systems to the internet?
The Cloud Connector installed in your on-premises/private cloud landscape is the one that initiates the communication/connection to the SAP Cloud, this to create a secure communication tunnel. This “tunnel” is used by SAP Cloud products to communicate with your internal systems securely.
Can anyone in the internet use the “tunnel” initiated by Cloud Connector to connect to my landscape?
No. No one but SAP Cloud products or applications that you’ve deployed to the SAP platform as a service, e.g. SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP), can connect to your internal systems.
Where do I need to install Cloud Connector and how I can connect to the SAP Cloud?
Cloud Connector can be installed on Windows, Linux or Mac OSX. This can be in a virtual machine or a physical machine. An SAP BTP account is needed to configure the connection between the SAP Cloud environment and the Cloud Connector instance. Multiple Cloud Connectors can be deployed to connect to one or more SAP BTP region-subaccounts. This will depend on your landscape and needs.
What happens if my Cloud Connector instance stops working? How can the SAP Cloud communicate with my internal systems?
Ideally, Cloud Connector will be setup as highly available, meaning that there will be another machine (failover) available to process/receive the requests from the SAP Cloud in case the main machine (Cloud Connector instance) fails. This to ensure that cloud to internal connectivity is not lost in case of a failure.
Ok, now to the examples of business process/integrations/functionality that Cloud Connector enables achieve with the SAP Cloud.
- Extend a business process: There is functionality that an on-premises product doesn’t cover and you can develop a custom application to cover the functionality missing. Maybe use SAP Graph to retrieve the data from the on-premises SAP S/4HANA. The custom application can be hosted in SAP BTP and it can communicate with the on-premises system to retrieve the data it needs.
- Allow communication between SAP Cloud products to internal systems: SAP Ariba offers an integration capability called SAP Ariba Cloud Integration Gateway, which uses Cloud Connector to communicate your internal systems. Various SAP BTP services, e.g. SAP Asset Manager, SAP Data Warehouse Cloud, SAP Cloud Integration, allow connecting the service to internal systems.
- Integrate your on-premises systems with cloud applications: Using Cloud Integration, part of SAP Integration Suite, we can create integrations between cloud applications and many types of internal systems that communicate through different protocols, e.g. OData, HTTP, LDAP, Mail, SFTP. Cloud Integration can be configured so that it can connect to these on-premises systems.
- Expose internal APIs to the internet: SAP API Management, part of the SAP Integration Suite, can utilise Cloud Connector to expose internal APIs, in a secure/controlled way, to the internet. This way we can enable external parties/business partners to communicate with your systems via this secure API Gateway.
- Data processing
- Replicate/virtualise data from an on-premises database to the cloud: Cloud Connector enables connecting SAP HANA with the cloud. An SAP HANA database can replicate/virtualise data from SAP HANA on-premises to SAP HANA Cloud. This is a way of making your data available in the cloud environment.
- Move large amounts of data: SAP Data Intelligence can communicate with internal systems, via Cloud Connector, to retrieve data and send it to other data products, e.g. SAP Datawarehouse Cloud, SAP HANA Cloud, for further processing/analysis.
- Reporting in the cloud: You use SAP Analytics Cloud and want to create dashboards based on your data that lives in on-premises/private cloud systems. SAP Analytics Cloud can use Cloud Connector to securely communicate with an on-premises/private cloud SAP HANA database, SAP S/4HANA or an SAP BW/4HANA system. It can also connect to just an OData API exposed by an internal system.
Thanks for making it this far 😃. I’ve tried to cover the absolute basics of Cloud Connector without getting too technical. Also, highlighted different scenarios that Cloud Connector can enable between cloud applications/services and internal systems. I hope you’ve find the information explained here useful.
- Cloud Connector documentation: https://help.sap.com/viewer/cca91383641e40ffbe03bdc78f00f681/Cloud/en-US/e6c7616abb5710148cfcf3e75d96d596.html
- In case you are interested in learning how to setup/configure Cloud Connector, make sure to checkout the tutorials available – https://developers.sap.com/tutorial-navigator.html?search=’Cloud+Connector’