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The insideEdge (SAPinsider Vol. 3, Iss. 2)

by Franz-Josef Fritz | SAPinsider

April 1, 2002

by Franz-Josef Fritz, Vice President, Technology Product Management, SAP AG SAPinsider - 2002 (Volume 3), April (Issue 2)

Consider, for a moment, all the systems that populate your IT landscape: R/3 systems, legacy systems, trading and e-sales systems, collaborative engineering systems, e-procurement systems, and so on. Now think about all the point-to-point connections that have cropped up to facilitate integration among these systems. How many connections can you count? How much does this number grow if you include connections to business partner systems and communication via fax, e-mail, and EDI?

Each new integration point represents a non-trivial development exercise in which the unique rules of engagement for the connection are typically hardwired into the participating applications. Estimates place the cost of building just one point-to-point connection at $75,000. Add in the cost to maintain that connection, then multiply that sum across hundreds of connections, and it’s easy to understand how up to 40 percent of IT budgets are consumed in building and maintaining this ever-growing mass of interconnections. In an era where competitive challenges dictate that companies will integrate their ERP, CRM, and SCM solutions with one another and/or with legacy systems, connect with more business partners’ systems in a more cost-effective manner than EDI, and web-enable customer-facing systems, the number of connections will grow significantly. Unfortunately, you cannot readily reuse existing hardwired connectivity logic!

Addressing this profound infrastructure challenge was the motivating force behind SAP’s new exchange infrastructure. Imagine being able to simply plug application components into an intelligent switchboard that could see to all the necessary integration work — not just at the protocol level, but all the way up to the business level — to ensure proper mapping of messages, object definitions, and application interfaces, and adherence to business rules that may be company-specific, partner-specific, or industry best practice. That, in a nutshell, is what the exchange infrastructure provides. SAP has infused its knowledge of business process integration into this offering, which comes preloaded with integration scenarios, web services, interfaces, mappings, routing rules, and an easy way to add specifics about your system landscape and those to which you need to connect. The result? Your integration efforts can focus on just one common, open, and standards-based integration platform. SAP solutions, including R/3 Enterprise, CRM, and SCM, will snap right in, which means that they come with predefined message definitions, routing rules, process templates, and so on. Since the exchange infrastructure is open and completely standards-based, integration content may also come from partners or ISVs.

The transformation from the costly mass of connections you have today to one, flexible, cost-effective infrastructure won’t happen overnight. It will happen one connection at a time, so as not to disrupt your existing landscape. SAP will pave the way, offering you a roadmap for evolutionary adoption of this infrastructure. Count on the exchange infrastructure to be central to all upcoming mySAP solutions, including SRM, SCM, and CRM, and for SAP customers and their partners to begin factoring it into all their collaborative solutions as well.

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