GRC
HR
SCM
CRM
BI


Article

 

SAP Exchange Infrastructure 3.0 — Enterprise

by Anders Ranum | SAPinsider

April 1, 2004

by Anders Ranum, SAP Labs LLC SAPinsider - 2004 (Volume 5), April (Issue 2)
 



Anders Ranum,
SAP Labs LLC

Today’s 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 integration costs?

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.

Figure 1
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.

Note!
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).

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 include:

A 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.

Adapter Framework

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 business partners.

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 processes.

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 Americas.

 

An email has been sent to:






More from SAPinsider



COMMENTS

Please log in to post a comment.

No comments have been submitted on this article. Be the first to comment!


SAPinsider
FAQ