SAP Labs LLC
integration landscapes are typically characterized
by multiple solutions that tie together a
patchwork of applications and business partners.
As a company grows and absorbs disparate IT
organizations, it is not uncommon to see two
or three integration products at work. With
a merger, you might have inherited a second
EAI solution, you probably have a B2B gateway,
and then yet another tool might manage business
processes spanning the various applications
and business partners.
Such a landscape clearly does not lend itself to a cost-effective way
of grappling with legacy applications, cross-company communications, custom
and proprietary integration solutions, and a variety of technologies and
systems. So how do you ensure that all messages and mappings are developed
and in place? And how do you do this cost-effectively, when mappings to
standard interfaces alone will account for approximately 60% of your total
Then, once the business process is up and running, how do you make
maintenance and updates as painless as possible? And how do you avoid
undue burdens on your partners as you integrate them into your processes?
Part of the integration and application technology available with SAP
NetWeaver, SAP Exchange Infrastructure, is designed to help you meet your
business process integration challenges wherever they occur (see Figure
1). SAP Exchange Infrastructure (SAP XI) 2.0 is already at work for a
remarkably disparate crowd of SAP customers. Integrating everything from
mainframe systems, third-party CRM applications, and shop-floor systems,
SAP XI 2.0 is running in companies from a semiconductor manufacturer in
Texas, to a bank in Brazil, to an
automotive company in Europe, and a food distributor in Denmark. In addition
to mySAP Business Suite solutions (including mySAP ERP, mySAP SRM, and
mySAP SCM, among others), SAP applications such as Master Data Management
and Inventory Collaboration Hub1 leverage XI for its predefined business
processes and ease of integration.
|SAP XI Manages Process Integration as Part of SAP NetWeaver
Like most modern integration brokers, SAP XI uses XML and an open, standards-based
architecture to perform tasks such as intelligent routing, transformation,
and guaranteed message delivery. But what
differentiates it from other integration
offerings is its end-to-end management of integration knowledge via a
centralized integration repository. This repository stores all the integration
information needed for versioning, change management, and development,
and comes with pre-packaged content to serve as a centralized source of
collaboration knowledge for metadata, business scenarios, and Web services.
Even with this centralized configuration, SAP XI also supports distributed execution through automatic mitigation of configurations. In other words, SAP XI could be running on your headquarters’ system, where it would manage all integration information and adapters, even when the adapter itself is installed and running on a system in your subsidiary in another country (see Figure 2).
|An Example of SAP XI Adapter Architecture at Work
Now, in Release 3.0, SAP XI includes a full-fledged, cross-component business
process management solution, along with built-in B2B integration and an
adapter framework. From a single solution, you can integrate SAP and non-SAP
applications and your business partners, as well as model, control, automate,
and optimize business processes spanning your entire system landscape.
This article gives a quick rundown of the new features and functions introduced
with SAP XI 3.0 to drive the cost of integration down even further while
increasing the business value of your existing solutions. Some major enhancements
new adapter framework based on the new J2EE
Connector Architecture (JCA) standard. The
Adapter Framework defines a standard architecture
for connecting the J2EE platform to heterogeneous
information systems, such as ERP systems,
mainframe transaction processing systems,
database systems, and legacy applications
not written in the Java programming language.
B2B integration (B2Bi). With B2Bi, you achieve communication with business
partners with one and the same tool that you use for internal process
integration. This gives you an opportunity to automate the whole chain
of events that span from backend applications to business partners outside
your own company’s borders.
Cross-component business process management (ccBPM). ccBPM allows you
to model and execute complex
business processes in one centralized, integrated tool where application
integration data is readily available.
Specific vertical industry
solutions. SAP XI offers prebuilt, industry-specific content, including
offerings for the discrete manufacturing industry via our business solution
for RosettaNet, solutions for the chemical industry via our business solution
for Chem eStandard CIDX, and integration support for data pooling and
product registries such as UCCNet.
The Adapter Framework is based on the SAP J2EE Engine (part of SAP Web
Application Server), and inherits that engine’s key properties and
features, such as scalability, clustering, and high availability for integrating
information systems with SAP XI. But the Adapter Framework provides its
own set of interfaces for the configuration, administration, and monitoring
of any deployed adapters to ensure smooth operation and administration.
The Adapter Framework is also the foundation for the Adapter Engine, which
plays host to several adapters that come with SAP XI:
- File Adapter — for accessing file systems or communicating
- JMS Adapter — for integrating with JMS-compliant messaging
- JDBC Adapter — for accessing JDBC-compliant databases
- SOAP Adapter — for plain SOAP messaging
- RFC Adapter — for integrating with SAP applications
Lastly, the Adapter Framework is used as the core for the SAP Partner
Connectivity Kit (SAP PCK), which facilitates the exchange of XML documents
between a business partner and SAP XI. The SAP PCK enables a
business partner that does not yet have XML exchange capability to connect
to SAP XI (more on this below).
Enhanced B2B Integration
Through its added support for security, partner management capabilities,
and other enhancements, SAP XI is well equipped to deal with the tasks
of integrating your business partners. Adhering to our philosophy of central
administration and management, SAP XI provides centralized management
of the technical characteristics of business partners in an integration
directory, which stores the company-specific exchange information.2 This
is what we call the Collaboration Agreement (CA).
The objective of the CA is to bundle all of the technical information
required to conduct XML document exchange between two business partners.
This includes information such as an identifier of the party that you
conduct business with — whether it is a DUNS number, a GTIN, an
SAP Business Partner number, or a customer-specific party identifier.
Additionally, information about the message protocol and version being
used or security information, such as digital certificates used in the
transmission, are kept in these records.
A Collaboration Agreement defines the technical characteristics that are
valid between two parties. The same party can apply different technical
characteristics in different CAs so that it can accommodate variances
in the XML document exchange of one party when dealing with different
Improvements in security with SAP XI will now allow you to use XML signatures
and digital certificates to ensure the integrity of data during the document
exchange and provide for nonrepudiation of origin. This ensures that your
trading partners cannot dispute conducting business with you and that
data wasn’t changed intermittently — both important aspects
of doing business over the Internet.
The SAP Partner Connectivity Kit also enhances B2B capabilities since
it offers connectivity options to small and medium-sized businesses by
providing file access, database access, queuing systems, and Remote Function
Calls. To the outside world the SAP PCK “looks and acts” as
any other SAP XI system — but with a smaller footprint and simpler
management — to allow a company to bring all its partners, large
and small, into its business processes.
Cross-Component Business Process Management — The Agile Differentiator
Simply put, business process management (BPM) is the process of tying
together the individual events or processes that are at the core of your
business when it comes to controlling how applications and/or people interact.
From approving an employee’s vacation request to processing an order,
BPM provides a process layer that executes these chains of events based
on predesigned models. In SAP XI, business process management provides
powerful state management for message and event interaction between applications
and business partners. Cross-component BPM in SAP XI 3.0 now handles scenarios
where the process flow between different business applications is dependent
on several messages, or on time or business events. Correlation between
the various messages can be derived from message content.3
With BPM in 3.0, there is also a new graphical process editor that is
an integral part of the Integration Repository. This editor processes
repository objects and supports templates and patterns. SAP delivers templates
for common scenarios spanning a complete business process based on, for
example, industry standards for business processes such as RosettaNet,
the prevailing standard for the high-tech manufacturing industry. Just
as RosettaNet dictates the interaction between two business partners to
allow for automated execution of business processes, SAP XI controls the
execution and orchestration with a delivered template. Additionally, patterns
are provided to speed up the process of modeling your unique business
SAP Business Packages — Vertical Business Solutions, Not Toolkits!
SAP Exchange Infrastructure’s enhancements in all these areas
— BPM, B2B integration, and Collaboration Agreements — in
turn create the foundation for some impressive industry solutions that
can significantly reduce your implementation time and integration costs.
SAP XI 3.0 does not simply provide you with the technical capabilities
to participate in industry-standard protocols (e.g., RosettaNet or Chem
standards); it also provides SAP Business Packages, available
with SAP XI, which are designed for specific industries and deliver predefined
content in the form of message mappings and business process templates
that support those industry standards.
The result is an off-the-shelf, best-of-breed solution that, with SAP
applications such as SAP R/3 Enterprise and SAP CRM 4.0, significantly
reduces the time to implementation and the costs typically associated
with these initiatives, compared to other integration products.
Life-Cycle Management, Administration, and Monitoring
With SAP XI as the backbone of your business processes, you will appreciate
the additional features and functions that help ensure the system is running
at peak performance. In SAP XI 3.0, the change management system (CMS) functions that many of you have been accustomed to in ABAP development
(for the customizing and change transport of development objects during
development and production) can also now be leveraged for objects in the
integration repository and directory. There is support for a where-used
list to make dependencies more transparent, as well as object documentation
that supports multiple languages.
For monitoring of an integration landscape, SAP XI now supports the ability
to track and follow messages end-to-end in a system landscape. An alert
framework supports rule-based triggering, and the alerts have a link to
the appropriate component for error analysis. The alerts can be delivered
via email, SMS, and so on. Furthermore, SAP XI 3.0 now supports all SAP
Web Application Server Unicode platform and database combinations.
Get Ready — SAP Exchange Infrastructure Is
SAP XI 3.0 has now matured as a complete
process integration solution with features
that make it suitable for business automation,
complex interactions, and standards-based
communication. SAP XI solves your application-to-application
and business-to-business integration challenges,
with lifecycle support and predelivered content
for heterogeneous landscapes, based on open
standards. What are you waiting for?
For more information on the SAP Exchange Infrastructure, visit
www.sap.com/xi. Further information is available at the SAP Service
Marketplace at http://service.sap.com/xi
and at http://sdn.sap.com.
1 Part of SAP SCM 4.0.
2The integration repository is created by SAP to hold a general and comprehensive set of integration information. The integration depository is created by the SAP customer, and it stores company-specific information taken from the integration repository, as well as specific business partner information and integration rules.
3See Alan Rickayzen's article in this issue
of SAP Insider (www.SAPinsider.com).
Anders Ranum joined SAP Labs LLC in 2000, after receiving his MBA
in Management Information Systems from the University of South Dakota.
He worked in development support for B2B exchanges before joining Product
Management Process Integration in 2001. Currently, he is the product manager
for SAP Exchange Infrastructure and Business Process Management in the