Enterprise IT Consultant Views on Technologies and Trends

Jan 3 2012   1:58AM GMT

SAP NetWeaver PI as Enterprise Service Bus (ESB)

Sasirekha R Profile: Sasirekha R

SAP NetWeaver PI as Enterprise Service Bus (ESB)

SAP NetWeaver Process Integration (SAP NetWeaver PI) provides SOA foundation capabilities for SAP customers. SAP PI is an integration platform that provides seamless integration between SAP and non-SAP applications inside and outside the corporate boundary.

SOA enabling standards (WS standards) are implemented in SAP PI 7.1 making it the core technology enabler of SAP Enterprise SOA. The essence can be summed up by what a customer has said – “SAP NetWeaver PI 7.1 is now a true ESB”.

SAP PI is the part of the SAP SOA where open XML based standards are used and SAP delivers pre-configured content. SAP PI is highly optimized for SAP environment and hence 99% of SAP customers use SAP PI for their SAP integration with other non-SAP applications and interfaces (It is not that technically SAP PI is essential but SAP consultants typically are not willing to consider that as a possible approach). Most SAP customers have SAP PI along with their other enterprise integration platforms – to get the best of both worlds.

SAP systems use Intermediate documents (iDoc) to interact with other SAP systems as it produces optimal results. SAP PI converts iDoc to XML message for its internal processing. PI can also convert this data to Flat file format if the receiving application demands it. Thus SAP PI use of open standards like XML and Java enables SAP and non-SAP integration.

SAP PI adapted more and more of open Standards for SOA and through partnerships has evolved to become the Enterprise Strategic integration platform. SAP points out that one of the first scenarios that went life on SAP NetWeaver PI 7.1 is based on the integration of two non-SAP applications with each other (http://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/scn/weblogs?blog=/pub/wlg/12242. This view also reiterated in http://www.architectsap.com/blog/sap/sap-netweaver-pi-7-1-usage-scenarios-for-integrating-java-microsoft-mainframe-and-legacy-applications/).

Thus SAP NW PI 7.1 is being used productively for the integration of:

  • non-SAP systems with non-SAP systems,
  • non-SAP systems with SAP applications,
  • SAP- with SAP systems.

SAP PI usage scenarios at real-life implementations detailed in http://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/scn/go/portal/prtroot/docs/library/uuid/100f92ac-61a6-2b10-6a9c-a8109a366040?QuickLink=index&overridelayout=true gives a picture of SAP PI capabilities.

SAP PI supports A2A and B2B scenarios, Synchronous and Asynchronous message exchange and includes built-in engine for designing and executing   integration processes. SAP PI can be used as the single point of integration of all systems inside and outside the corporate boundary across technologies and organizational boundaries.

The key benefits of SAP NetWeaver PI 7.1 are:

  • Better governance with the Enterprise Services Repository,such as usage of process models, and Service Registry for both SAP as well as non-SAP services
  • Great performance via local processing on Advanced Adapter Engine as well as message packaging
  • Enhanced developer productivity, such asre-factoring capabilities in message mapping, modelling enhancements for mappings and integration processes, and faster configuration for local processing on Advanced Adapter Engine
  • New functions, such as XML payload validation
  • Out of the box process templates and integration content

The major usage scenarios where SAP PI has been effectively deployed (http://www.way2sap.com/sap-article/sap-pi-7-1-usage-scenarios-for-integrating-java-712/) include:

  • Integration between SAP systems such as SAP ECC6, SAP CRM, etc.
  • Integration between SAP BW and nonSAP systems for bulk data transfer
  • Integration between SAP and nonSAP sytems such as Microsoft .NET applications, J2EE,and Legacy applications. A typical scenario is an application posts HTTP request to SAP NW PI 7.1 and the data is transformed to corresponding IDOC based on business rules.
  • Integration between SAP PI and other middleware products such as webMethods, IBM Websphere, Microsoft Biztalk etc.
  • Integration between nonSAP and nonSAP applications
  • B2B Integration : Trading partner integration through EDI, XML document exchange, RosettaNet or other industry standard protocols
  • Service enablement of legacy applications – provide a web service capability to legacy applications

SAP NW PI is an infrastructure for service enablement as well as service and process orchestration and mediation (mapping, routing). It provides secure, standards-based, reliable, and scalable communication between sender and receiver applications in heterogeneous system landscapes, within an enterprise and beyond enterprise boundaries (http://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/sdn/soa-servicebus?rid=/webcontent/uuid/00261855-5960-2b10-6898-9a0127e6391d).

SAP NW PI provides the following key tools:

  • Enterprise Services Repository and Services Registry – Central location to define, access, and manage SOA assets such as service interfaces. It provides a central modeling and design environment for creating, aggregating, and using services and processes. The Services Registry supports the publication, classification, and discovery of services (SAP, partner, or custom-defined) across the IT landscape. Also enables the management and governance of services.
  • Integration Directory – Central tool to configure the processing of messages, such as the systems and external communication partners that are involved in the process, the routing rules that govern the message flow between these entities, as well as the settings for the communication incl. security.
  • Integration Server – Runtime environment to provide secure, standards-based, reliable, and scalable communication between provider and consumer applications. The Business Process Engine takes care of cross component Business Process Management and handles processes where the message flow between different business applications is dependent on several messages or on time and business actions or reactions. The Advanced Adapter Engine provides built-in mediation capabilities to reconcile incompatible protocols, structural maps, schema, and data formats between provider and consumer applications. It supports reliable transport and queuing capabilities to provide mechanisms for handling different quality-of-service levels at runtime, as well as validation of payloads against an XML schema.
  • SAP NetWeaver Administrator (SAP NWA) for SAP NW PI and Runtime Workbench – Safeguards the deployment and operations of the processes in order to ensure runtime governance, security with access control, authentication, auditing, enforcement of compliance to policies, and monitoring of the service execution.

Technical Connectivity for communication with SAP and non-SAP systems include:

File/FTP(S) (File Systems / FTP Servers), JDBC (RDBMS systems), JMS (Messaging systems, e. g. MQSeries) , SOAP (Web Services based on SOAP), WS-RM (based on WS Reliable Messaging), Plain HTTP(S), Mail (Mail Servers via SMTP, IMAP4, POP3), SAP Business Connector (SAP BC) and Marketplace (SAP Marketplaces).

Application Connectivity includes RFC, IDoc, Proxy (ABAP and Java).

The adapter framework API for SAP NetWeaver PI 7.1 is public and the following are the already available Adapters (by SAP itself) for SAP NetWeaver PI 7.1 (http://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/scn/weblogs?blog=/pub/wlg/11820): 

Interestingly Gartner and Forrester point out that SAP PI can support non-SAP to non-SAP and B2B integrations, it is best-suited to deploy SAP applications and integrate SAP applications and processes.

The conclusion is if you have SAP, from version 7.1 you truly have an option of choosing SAP NetWeaver PI as the Enterprise Service Bus and not have to resort to SAP PI for SAP integration and another ESB product for non-SAP integration.

3  Comments on this Post

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  • blueyes

    pulled right from the pages of SAP marketing.

    With every product suite there are limitations and extensions to standards, so what are the weaknesses of SAP Netweaver????


    10 pointsBadges:
  • Sasirekha R
    SAP NetWeaver never worked before to integrate outside SAP - in spite of all their claims... I started with that as the baseline  and the elaboration was focussed on how it is now possible to use SAP NetWeaver as a true ESB. Now I realize that I have not established the premise in the article
    50 pointsBadges:
  • Sasirekha R
    SAP PI as ESB is deployed and it is up and running - albeit in a simple environment SAP being predominant and rest of the functions in Microsoft .Net platform and even within that there had been issues and workarounds resorted to. 
    50 pointsBadges:

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