Digital Integration Hub – Bringing it all together
Summary. In this article of the series “Give Data Purpose Weekly” I share detailed insights of how you can build a working Digital Integration Hub to unlock data from your IT tomb.
Lately we went to an exhibition about Tutanchamun in Mannheim where you could learn a lot about his life. It featured a reconstruction of his tomb, one of the last found: it was very impressive to see how well hidden and sealed it was.
That actually reminded me of some of our customers who may not even know how to get to their data inside of their IT (no hard feelings). However, modern IT is just that: simplify and speed up access to information for your employees, customers and partners.
Architecturing the change
As you may have heard by now, the “digital integration hub” is an architectural pattern that
“delivers high-throughput, responsive and reliable APIs while minimizing the workload hitting their systems of record and improving architectural agility“.
A good description can be found here.
This pattern can be compared to a method that will help customers to dig their way to the core of the IT and establish conveyer belts to move information in an efficient way from and to their critical systems.
Let’s see how this is done using the SAP BTP, based on the Integration Suite Hands-On Workshop architecture.
Get the data out of the tomb
Often data is slumbering in the very depths of your IT systems, almost impossible to get to. Just like the queen’s/king’s chamber in a pyramid.
In order to provide the data in a consumable form and with lightning fast access, let’s get it out of its tomb.
To do so, you use the SAP HANA Cloud: it is an in-memory database including tools to extract data from various datasources like an S/4HANA system.
Notice how the data is now close to the consumer, and also held in-memory thus dramatically reducing access latency.
Let’s see how we achieved that in SAP HANA Cloud, ie. in the Smart Data Integration part of it:
As you can see, we are simply combining 2 (or more) tables into one, transforming the data to something needed by the consumers.
Now that the data is out of its tomb it needs to be accessed by the rest of the world. To do this, we use the lingua franca of the internet: REST APIs (and not JDBC or any other dedicated protocol/format).
To do so, we simply configure an ODATA REST API on top of the freshly created table in our SAP Business Application Studio.
As you can see, this is a low-effort task which will provide huge benefits to the consumer. Not only we are providing a standard REST API but we provide it in ODATA format with all of its benefits (metadata, predefined operators, …).
Once the data is out of its tomb, you want allow developers to access it so they can build integrations or applications. However, you want to manage how the data and functions are being used.
This is done through SAP API Management, where you can secure access, manage traffic, document, analyse and monetize the APIs.
The best part is that SAP API Management can interpret the OData metadata that was automatically generated in HANA Cloud which is error-proof and fast.
Here you can see how this looks like in the UI.
Once again: it is a low-effort because API Management interprets the OData metadata, is based on the pipeline pattern and provides predefined components (ie. policies).
When it comes to the documentation, here is what the developer of an App or an Integration can see in the Developer Portal.
Within the developer portal (know as “API Business Hub Enterprise”), developers can search for APIs, see their details like resources and data structure and can test them online.
Buying a souvenir
In the steps above, we especially focused on getting data out of the IT core, not so much writing data back to it.
We could compare that with a museum: once you have admired all the artefacts, you step into the museum shop to buy a souvenir. This will start a transaction which will impact many backend systems.
This transaction, or the process, eventually needs to be implemented. This can be done through SAP Cloud Integration, our strategic process integration service. It will take care of connectivity, data transformation (conversion and mapping) and orchestration.
You may see that the graphical interface is self-explanatory, uses the concept of predefined flow-steps and provides machine-learning support to increase efficiency in configuring integration processes.
The best part here is that you may not even need to configure anything: SAP provides predefined integration content that you can simply reuse in your own Cloud Integration runtime environment.
If you are under 30, you may have that “always online” gene that makes you post anything you do (looks like my 2 children have it). Now is the moment to make a status update, create a post or a story: “Just finished the museum and bought that beautiful Egyptian talisman!”
And if you do not live under a rock, you have heard of “event-driven architectures“. It is all about near-real-time communication and very strong decoupling in order to build resilient and lean communication.
To implement that, you can use SAP Event Mesh that allows applications to communicate through asynchronous events.
So whenever something happens in your backend system, an event is created in event mesh, for anyone to consume. For instance, you could update a specific SaaS with the information of the order you just created.
During my many customer interactions, I realised that very often they have the same requirements.
And when they have actively addressed these, they all come up with similar approaches – like the digital integration hub. Sometimes they miss the “high-performance datastore” part, sometimes they already have an EDA in place… but in the end, everything they need is available from the SAP Business Technology Platform without having to spend months defining the underlying infrastructure or having to talk to multiple vendors.
If you want to get deeper into that topic, feel free to join our SAP Integration Suite Hands-On Workshop: it’s a guided tour of the implementation of a Digital Integration Hub.
Note this event is available for German-speaking only users, but you can contact your local SAP presales to get a workshop in your local language.
Stay safe and stay tuned!