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
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 its 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 SAPs 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
wont 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.