Customer expectations of today’s businesses are high: a shopping experience must be easy to consume, tailored, and fully frictionless. Amazon shows how it’s done. The company’s internal processes must also be smooth and fast. On the one hand, because nowadays, no one wants to wait days or weeks for the approval of a trivial application. On the other hand, and above all, so that employees can concentrate on their actual tasks: creating value and fulfilling customer wishes.
Enterprises must become intelligent to meet the expectations of today’s world – an Intelligent Enterprise.
A key factor in becoming an intelligent enterprise is integration. Only those who network their systems, share data, inform about events, can exploit the full potential of their system landscape and make the right decision at the right time.
In doing so, one faces a problem: How do I get the systems to work together seamlessly?
Integration, but the right way
In many areas, the best-of-breed approach is used today: Software from different manufacturers is used that optimally fulfills its respective use case. This leads to complex, heterogeneous system landscapes. If you look at a process end-to-end, more than five systems are quickly involved. In a typical e-commerce ordering process, customer identity management, product information management systems, warehouse management systems, ERP interfaces to parcel service providers and online marketplaces all play a role.
While many software products come with built-in integration capabilities, a closer look reveals that they are often limited, inflexible, or simply outdated. Other considerations also play a role: Do I want to create dependencies on third-party providers with plugins? Will I incur additional licensing costs?
The range of products offered by the large software houses, such as Salesforce or SAP, which can cover a large part of the process chains with their business software, also suffers from this. This is because their product portfolio is characterized by acquisitions and out-of-the-box integration is not always a given.
Point-to-point integrations between systems are quickly implemented. But the overview gets lost quickly here. Where is the origin of my data? Where is it passed on? Who has authority over the data?
The key to success is an integration strategy, clear responsibilities and data flows. In implementation, an integration platform helps to bring the interfaces together centrally, to make processes visible and “manageable”.
Integration in the SAP context
SAP has recognized this challenge and has made the integration of its products and services a strategic issue – Intelligent Enterprises are Integrated Enterprises, says Jürgen Müller and Thomas Saueressig, board members of SAP, in their strategy document.
The foundation of the strategy is the SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP). It is the central basis for SAPs cloud products, as well as their use, extensibility, and linkage. The SAP Integration Suite, SAPs Integration Platform as a Service (IPaaS), which is built on the BTP, addresses the integration issue.
It is an integration platform that creates seamless integration of both on-premise and cloud-based applications and processes with SAP-managed tools and content.
SAP offers pre-built integrations for all processes in the value chain – currently more than 1500 pre-built integrations in the API Business Hub, in addition to more than 1400 APIs with the modern Open API specification: SAP follows an API-first development approach, and these APIs cover SAP applications, platforms and business services.
It also supports holistic integration across integration domains: SAPs hybrid integration platform to support holistic integration is SAP Integration Suite.
Introduction of the SAP Integration Suite
As the name suggests, the Integration Suite is not a single piece of software, but rather a toolbox of services that take care of the sub-aspects of integration and are marketed together as a product suite. I will introduce you to the individual aspects in the following:
- Cloud Integration
Cloud Integration is the heart of the suite. Here, integrations are implemented using a graphical no-code/low-code editor or scripts. Cloud Integration brings building blocks for merging, transforming, and routing messages. The standard connectors cover a wide range of protocols and systems.
- API Management
SAP API Management includes tools for securing, publishing, and monitoring interfaces. With flexible policies, authentication, access guidelines and rate limits can be defined for interfaces from SAP systems, cloud integrations, but also third-party systems. Using the built-in API portal, these interfaces can be bundled as a product and made available to the company’s own developers or partners. The central provisioning enables usage analyses and monetization of the APIs.
- Open Connectors
Open Connectors is a catalog of interfaces to build access to popular third-party cloud applications. This makes systems easier to consume in the SAP cloud ecosystem and accelerates application integration.
- Integration Advisor
The Integration Advisor is a supporting AI for the mapping of complex data structures. It draws on a large knowledge base from the SAP user community and independently makes suggestions for data mapping. The integration artifacts generated in this way can be imported into Cloud Integration, thus significantly reducing the implementation effort.
- Event Mesh
Event Mesh lets you automatically notify applications, services, and systems in different landscapes about changes in business data. It notifies a receiving application when data about an object (such as an order) changes in the source.
Integration is the key to becoming an intelligent enterprise. A cross-company integration strategy is essential on this journey. The right platform will help you get there. If you need more information or help with integration issues, don’t hesitate to contact us.
In upcoming blog posts, we will introduce you to the components of the Integration Suite in particular. Stay tuned.