SAP is one of the most widely used and recommended ERP system that helps organizations to manage their core business functions such as finance, human resource, enterprise performance and others smoothly. Although SAP enables the businesses to transform the way they work, it alone cannot meet all their requirements. The multi-application structure deployed in the organizations leads to the demand of enabling SAP integration with other non-SAP platforms in use. An efficient and seamless integration of these platforms is essential to streamline the flow of data in the entire organization.
One of the major challenges faced by the organizations is in selecting the most suitable and appropriate integration platform that can enable the complete optimization of the business processes. Generally, it is the organization’s IT team’s responsibility to manually create code to establish connection between SAP and other systems. However, installing an integration platform allows the IT team in any organization to directly start monitoring if the data flow is accurate between the SAP and non-SAP systems.
There are several integration platforms that can be used by organizations to enable integration between SAP with other software. A few of these are as mentioned below:
- Intermediate Docs (IDocs)
Defined by SAP, IDocs is a standard data format used to exchange information between SAP and non-SAP applications. The format is typically used to transfer data in and out of SAP.
- Business Application Programming Interfaces (BAPI)
Typically used in two-way communication scenarios, BAPIs are defined interfaces that can be utilized by both SAP and non-SAP applications. These provide access to both processes and data and offer a broad set of functions for SAP application integration.
- SAP Java Connector (JCo)
JCo enables development of SAP-compatible components and applications in Java. It is a middleware component that has become prevalent in SAP environments. Also, the connector is an essential component for Java developers who need to integrate applications with SAP.
Along with these, there are certain tools that have been provided by SAP for integration. Some of these are as follows:
This tool runs on the ABAP (Advanced Business Application Programming) system and can also create files as a basic operation. It is also an effective tool that can be used for business rules and error handling on the back end as well as value conversion.
- ABAP-Web Service
The web services can be exposed directly from the back end using the proxies created that make it simple to handle all the calls. However, this service is not different from the Remote Function Call (RFC), there are chances to miss out on monitoring to an extent if you use this approach.
It gets easy to expose the REST (Representational State Transfer) /OData (Open Data Protocol) of the behind-the-scenes process after the mobile enablement of ABAP. Having a Gateway runtime on either a J2ee system or an ABAP system is a great idea. Also, it is a nice component to have when dealing with UI5 interfaces.
- Process Orchestration (PI/PO)
This one works as an effective tool to handle system-to-system integration both locally and in the cloud. The user-system integration is also enabled after user and process integration. The message processing is handled by SAP’s main ESB (Enterprise Service Bus).
- HANA Cloud Integration (HCI)
A cloud integration tool, HCI focuses on cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-on-prem integration. It comes with predefined content that makes it easier to perform in specific scenarios, such as e-Invoicing.
- API (Application Program Interface) Manager
The API manager can be both on-premises or run as a Service on the HCP (HANA Cloud Platform). When used at the front end, it enables the better organization of the APIs. It requires SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) or REST data behind to function effectively.
- BO (Business Objects) Data Services
This one is an Extract Transform Load (ETL) tool that can do batch loads of big data volumes.
- MII (Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence)
This tool is used for integration with factories and machines present over there.
- HANA Cloud Platform (HCP)
Available with multiple services for integration, this is a cloud platform that also includes the HANA system. This tool allows SAP to experiment with new integration solutions to check the demand of the customers and what they want to deal with.
This tool allows direct integration on the platform for both mobile/UI5 scenarios as well as for system integration. It has been constructing REST services and possibly some other scenarios too.
- Solace Systems
This one is not an SAP product but is being used by SAP for high-speed message transformation and processing. It is available with an application that can handle 450 k messages/sec and is extremely useful for IoT (Internet of Things) and other sensors.
- Mobile Application Development Platform (MADF)
This platform does have an HCP component, which should be an easy deployment option.
Making The Right Choice
SAP can be integrated by using four different methods that include data integration, application integration, business process integration, and presentation integration. Data integration involves consolidating data from multiple sources and requires data cleansing, mapping, and transformation. Application integration merges data and workflows between applications and focuses on sharing functionality rather than business logic. Business process integration drives an uncompromising support for business processes in situations where an organization uses various solutions to define steps used in these processes. Presentation integration is an integrated system that includes a unified presentation layer and is a great option for such organizations that prioritize user experience.
Each of these methods has its own pros and cons but you need to determine which one suits the best for your organization.