Biggest challenges for SAP Integration in 2020

This blog contains some of the biggest trends in SAP Integration in 2020. Hopefully, you have already progressed with some of the areas, so you will have more time to focus on the other topics.

The topics covered are:

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Migration

Ever since the dawn of software age, there has always been a task to perform migrations. They just happen to ensure customers has the newest software and are able to achieve a lower TCO for their integration, and have support for their tools. The same is true for the SAP Integration portfolio it also undergoes changes. 2020 is the last year that 7.11, 7.3, 7.31 and 7.4 is supported, so in 2021 all customers must be on SAP PI/PO 7.5.

There will still be customers that have not managed to upgrade before then, but they must then accept their system is out of support. So if something bad happens they can move the interfaces to a newer platform.

In some cases, you can go for an upgrade to PI 7.5  with a stack split and then delete the ABAP stack. It is a bit risky and you will need to have good testing in place. It requires that you have ICO’s only.

Migration projects are a technical exercise that adds little value to the business, except they must be able to process it. The business therefore seldom cares about it, it is just some technical thing that must be completed. A migration project can take many months for you to perform, so you need to plan it. It is probably one of the tasks that you want outside help to perform because it will not be a core competency of your team to run migration projects. 

At Figaf we have created a set of tools that allow you to automate your SAP PI/CPI process, and they can also be used for migration. Here they can help you test everything is correct and identical to what was seen before. That way you know everything works as seen before.

We have also the only tool on the market that allows you to manage your migration process. You will be able to see how fast your migration is progressing and it does help with configuration and transports. I have a recording of the migration tool here.

If you a large investment in Seeburger Message Maps then the tool will enable you to automate the migration. In 2 minutes you can take the old message mapping and update it to a B2B Add-on structure with the Figaf Seeburger Migration Tool. That is a lot less than the 4-8 hours others have reported for migration of on message mapping.

The migration is not a straight path and can be challenging, but depending on your scenario there can cost savings in the operations aspect. 

I have created a list of my best resources for an SAP PI/PO migration here.

SAP Cloud Platform Integration CPI

SAP CPI has already been mainstream and the goto tool for creating new cloud-based integration. For customers using cloud services, it is the best tool compared to SAP PI/PO. 

It makes it much easier to create integrations because everything can be managed in just one iflow and modularity.

The amount of redelivered content is growing and it becomes a lot easier to make modifications to it. So you can create your own special processes that can be reused in other places. 

There is also the Cloud Foundry process that is going on. Currently, there is a large gap between NEO and CF. I would expect this gap to close since CPI is available on AWS, Azure, and Alicloud and Google is not on the road map. This should mean there are more resources to close the gaps. Once it is done I would expect a CF would be the main place SAP is delivering new functions on SAP CPI, to get customers to move to the platform. 

Regarding SAP PI/PO there are still some scenarios that are much better to perform on CPI with regards to handling point to point messages, restarting and design simplifications. 

I do see there is a need in the platform for automation to make the processing easier of managing SAP CPI and I believe the Figaf tools can help you in the process. It will handle testing, governance, transports, documentation, and support. It will also allow you to develop faster with Git integration, so you can develop Groovy scripts easier. 

If you are new to SAP CPI the process of developing in SAP CPI is different than you are used to in SAP PI/PO. With greater power comes great responsibility. It is therefore recommended to learn how the tool works and how to leverage it. I have created a list of different concepts that you must master before creating your first SAP CPI iflow

Migration to CPI

Some SAP PI/PO customers have already migrated to SAP CPI and achieved some great savings in regards to operations. I do see that there will be a lot more customers moving to CPI. 

Some have already completed the migration and are seeing big returns in cost savings because the cloud platform is cheaper to run and manage. 

There are some tools that allow you to reuse message mappings but there is still some limitation for the process. I hope that we at Figaf can take our current migration tool from SAP PI/PO and leverage the same process for a CPI migration. We still have some steps to be completed before it is possible. 

Automate the delivery process for SAP Integration

The way SAP PI/PO has been transported and configured has not changed the last 10-15 years. It is basically happening in the same way. You will need to create some CTS+ transports and once they have been applied on target systems users must configure things manually. Testing was also done manually.

This is much different than the rest of the world now is thinking of delivering software much different. Where ideas as DevOps is the new norm most rapid development projects. It allows developers to release code much faster because the processes can be automated. 

I do see customers talking about how they are able to automate the delivery process of SAP PI or SAP CPI, so they can live up to a requirement to deliver integration faster.

There are a few aspects that the automation gives. It makes it easier to get other people to take over the code and manage it, this means you will not be as reliant on the same developers, so they can change jobs without affecting you. 

Figaf has a solution that allows you to automate the full delivery process so you don’t need to spend months creating your own tool for it. 

API Strategy

I have talked with a number of organizations. Most of them have some projects about exposing APIs either from the SAP systems or from other business systems, so their customers would be able to use it. 

It is quite a fascinating journey to start on. Just as when people started with an SOA journey in 2005. I guess the API is even more critical now and will help you build more applications. The business may also be more interested in exposing services, so the process may be faster. 

I guess you can get a lot of good ideas and inspiration for it and plan it well. In the development process, you probably have to be more agile and experiment. You need to understand that you cannot make correct APIs the first time. 

I do like the SAP API mgt platform, it is pretty easy to get started with. The great benefit is that you can expose your first Odata service on the internet really easy from your SAP backend systems. 

It may have some limitations to other better platforms. It may be a good place to get started and understand what APIs you have and how to expose them. If you find some great need or challenge you can migrate away from SAP API mgt or combine 2 platforms. 

I do think that it is something you will need to learn how to work on in your organization. There are some good books on the market that will make sense to read up on. 

I will recommend going through some training or material on the topics, so you will be able to judge how you want to start out. I would start with the SAP API mgt book but will probably also find a vendor neutral book. can

Citizen integration

Citizen integration is a hot topic. It is about allowing the business to self make new integration without having to contact IT for it. It will make it a lot easier to create the correct integrations, but also add a lot of complexity to the landscape. 

A good Citizen integration will require

  • A good way to govern access business users only see the data they are allowed to
  • Monitor so users can see what is going on
  • Scalable to more users can use it
  • The flexibility that users can find different ways to enrich or modify the content
  • Move from Business to IT without re-engineer everything

For BI reporting there already have been some tools like PowerBI alike. Here users can create their own reports one some predefined reports. It does require a good management process because the report can consume a lot of CPU and memory. I did read a good blog on the topic for BI where it has been possible for some time. I would assume that much of the same learning can apply to Integration. 

In SAP SuccessFactors there is a place where business experts can create their own reports and files based on some data. I’m not sure where they can send the files and share them. I do like the approach because nobody understands the data better than the business users do. 

As a normal user, I do like Zapier and use it for some of my integrations. It is pretty simple to distribute data between systems and map fields, so it would be something that many users will be able to configure. They do have some enterprise accounts but I’m not really sure it will scale to Fortune 500 companies with regards to simplicity, governance, and flexibility. 

In the SAP world, there are Open Connectors/Cloud Elements which also could provide some option to make it easier for businesses to exchange data in predefined formats. 

I’m looking forward to seeing what will be used and how tools will work in that perspective.

S/4 HANA migration and integration projects

Many SAP customers are considering how and if they want to upgrade to S4/HANA. Some have already upgraded, but most still have that journey ahead. Though some are considering if they want to or not. Let’s see how the support changes. 

If you “just” perform an upgrade you can mostly still use all your current integrations. You will need to test to see if everything still works. Some tables have been moved and some programs bay need to be changed.

If you start from scratch there are a lot of new interfaces, so no more need for using IDOCs. So it will instead be SOAP messages or events.

There is also the option to use AIF (Application Interface Framework) to manage . 

It will be something that you will be learning from so good luck on that process.

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Figaf saves Christmas SAP PI/CPI support

Christmas is the time when you would like to be with your loved ones. And not work on a support case to manage SAP Integration.

This is why we want to help you. We can give you a free 30-day trial of the Figaf tools to making monitoring of your SAP PI and CPI system much easier.

At Figaf we want to make it easier for you to support your SAP PI/CPI and API Mgt system, so you can get time to be with your loved ones and not spending time on finding and solving bugs that somebody else already have solved before. The Figaf has one generic way to handle alerts, so it is much easier for you to handle the support of the system.

We have created a little video that shows you how fast you can get started with the tool.

Try Figaf

As you have seen in the video it is pretty simple to start Figaf IRT.

You can download the on-prem version here or if you want to monitor CPI and API mgt then use the Figaf Cloud.

Simplifying your SAP Integration support

On our development SAP PI system, we a currently getting a lot of alerts. Some cache errors, some bad configurations, and some strange errors.

In many organizations, they just use the standard mail job to send all alerts happening on the PI system. You can then end up with a mailbox that looks completely full. Nobody knows how to process it and what has been handled. What alerts do not matter, and which is important. What do we have a solution for? 

In the AlertConsumerJob2 you can write texts on what to do for each job. But it will require quite a bit of management on the PI system to handle it. You will need steps like create new Alerts Rules, write a new text and schedule a new job. Not really optimal. 

I have seen this type of full inboxes at a number of clients and wanted to make a tool that could handle all the processing. So I created the Figaf Support tool. It was a standalone product, that we now have integrated into the Figaf suite. 

Figaf will receive and order all alerts from SAP PI/PO, SAP API Management, SAP CPI. The main feature is that it enables you to: 

  • Integrated action log, to view what needs to be processed
  • Simplify setup rules for each different alert setup with Xpath
  • Send an email 
  • Webhook to Jira, Slack or an SMS provider
  • Resent or Cancel messages
  • Mute alerts for some minutes
  • Create Ticket direct to fix the issue

You can see a demo of this in the video

  • For SAP PI it relies on CMBA (Standard alerts) enriched with PI message payload
  • For SAP CPI it has a filter to select which messages to download and treat as alert like Status = Failed, or Receiver = Log. Resent is possible with a script is applied to the flow
  • For SAP API management IRT will add some logging scripts that will use the KVM store to save alerts. 

The benefit is that you just have one way to handle all alerts for your SAP Integration. You will fast be able to set up alert processing and handling. 

You can get started now. It only takes 15 minutes to download and set up your first alert at that time. 

Download now at https://figaf.com/irt and get 30 days trial

Or try Figaf Cloud to manage CPI and API mgt

Governing SAP CPI with Figaf Tools Webinar replay

Managing and running an SAP CPI system can be easy. You can if you don’t have any quality control and can move everything. I have examples on fixing a feature request and move it to production in 30 minutes. No governance was made in this process. Which was not optimal nobody would know what was going on.

If you want to be able to govern the approach then you need it will take some longer. Govern is about managing the process to ensure there is proper audit trail for all changes, testing, and documentation is in place. This is something that can take a lot of manual hours to get working. With the Figaf tool we have automated the full process, so you developers, architects, and business experts no longer need to spend as much time on the tasks.

You can see the replay of a webinar below. This covers a lot of the process around change management and it even shows what is possible with the development process.

Try the Figaf tool

You can try the Figaf tool you can signup here

Figaf 2.11 is out, enabling DevOps for SAP PI and CPI

Now we are able to deliver Figaf IRT 2.11, it will enable automation of SAP Integration never seen before. It contains 150 tasks or bugs and 55k new lines of code. So it is a massive improvement we have worked on. It contains two main areas.

  • Transport and governance system
  • Migration of SAP PI/PO if you are still missing to migrate to 7.5

Transport and governance process

When we have talked with clients of the Figaf tool and our integration with CTS+. It seems like only 50% of the customers were using it. I could configure it on our system without much knowledge in 4 hours. So it should be possible for all SAP users to use it.

My these on why CTS+ it has not been implemented as much is that it is not adding much value, and is just complicating the process. You cannot really see what is in the transports and once you have imported the directory you anyway needed to perform manual steps to configure it.

That is the reason I’m stoked we have created our own transport approach. It is really simple to configure and make it possible to improve the delivery of SAP Integration. This is the way transports are supposed to be handled in the modern world.

The process is as follows, in most cases:

  1. Create a Ticket that links to the business requirement or failure created
  2. Add the objects that you have changed
  3. Figaf will then know what objects need to be tested and can test the flows
  4. You can create transport with all the objects.
  5. You then configure what channels will be like on other systems in the landscape
  6. A user can then approve the transport and allow you to transport in the landscape
  7. You can import the transport in the landscape, and it will then configure the communication channel
  8. You can create an Excel report of the change and upload it to Jira, Service now

You can see how this enables DevOps for SAP PI/PO in this video.

Migration of SAP PI/PO

The new release also enables users to help optimize the migration process. A lot of users still need to perform migration projects. It is quite a labor-intensive process that you need to perform. That is why it would make sense to automate the process. If you are looking for a migration project, recommend to check out the migration option. I have created a video of the process

Roadmap

There are still areas that we would love to improve, depending on what customers see as most important. Like how to perform validations on the QA system. Does it require running the test on that platform, or are there other functions that could make sense. A lot of the configuration on how transport should be imported is now possible it just requires users to figure out what they need to be.

For the migration support of Classical scenarios is also on the which list, but will require we can work with a customer to enable it.

If requested we can incorporate it with CTS+ so it will still run your transports and Figaf would handle configuration and documentation.

Get Started now

You can start using the Figaf tool for free. Just go to Figaf.com/IRT and signup. Then you will get a free license key you can use for the migration.