017 – What to expect at SAPPHIRENOW 2018 from a integration perspective

Next week is SAPPHIRENOW in Orlando, and I’m looking forward to going there to see what is happening with Integration. SAPPHIRENOW is SAPs biggest event with a focus on what new SAP Software customers should be investing in. The conference has a big focus on the business values that SAP is providing and provide good roadmaps of what is to come.

In this episode of the podcast, I’ll be covering my expectations of SAPPHIRENOW and also something about the sessions that are most interesting from an integration perspective.

Last year SAP announced SAP Leonardo as their platform for handling all the cool new things like blockchain, IoT, Big Data and more. I guess it was mostly a branding of their Cloud Platform and some of the services so people could see it was something new.

I’m looking forward to seeing what is coming out of new things from the conference.

I have created a list of the sessions that look most promising from an integration perspective. The list originally appeared on my blog on SAP community.

 

Session ID Title Info
ASUG11011 Integration Architecture for Hybrid System Landscapes Thu
12:30 p.m. – 01:30 p.m.
PL60858 Adopt Winning Strategies for Cloud Integration Thu
03:00 p.m. – 03:40 p.m.
PL60859 Support Rapid Innovation with Straightforward Access to APIs Tue
11:00 a.m.
ASUG10522 APIs and Integration Strategy for SAP S/4HANA Cloud
Wed
11:00 a.m.
LE59486 Discover Extensions and APIs That Drive the Intelligent Enterprise Wed
01:00 p.m
ASUG11987 Integrating SAP S/4HANA Cloud: Road Map and Current Capabilities Wed
01:00 p.m
BA60744 Drive Transformation with Robotic Process Automation and SAP S/4HANA Cloud Thu
01:00 p.m

If you have an idea of sessions I forgot please share in the comments.

 

016 – Building a reliable SAP PI landscape

In this episode, I’ll share some of the different ideas and techniques that I have seen at customers locations.

Integration services are so important to the business that you must find a way to run SAP PI/PO all the time. It is one of the key things to consider how you can make a good distribution of your system and the workloads. And also be able to support the upgrades/patches as well as configuration as easy as possible.

In the podcast, I mention some different setups they can be combined with a different setup to suit what you want to achieve and how it is best for your organization.

  • One installation on multiple instances or server nodes. This is SAPs way of scaling the system. They are all linked but allow you to restart single servers or instances and distribute among the servers. You cannot specify where an integration should run.
  • Multi productive PI systems to handle the different flow. Then you can patch one while the others are running. It requires some extra maintenance
  • Decentral Adapter Engine. Where all systems are connected to one central system that allows you to distribute workload and just have one place for configuration.
  • Preprod failover. Where you are using your reproductive system as a way to have a hot-hot failover. It does require some extra configuration of the scenarios on the PreProd system but gives you some benefits if you want to switch to it.

If you have another idea please post a comment below then others can learn from it.

 

015 – Workflow in SAP Cloud Platform with DJ Adams

I’m excited to welcome DJ Adams to The Integration Podcast this week.  DJ has been working with SAP software for more than 30 years.  He was an SAP Mentor for many years but has since retired to become an SAP Mentor alumnus.  DJ has shared a lot on the SAP Cloud Platform Workflow.  He has also written a series of blog posts on the subject where he is using the platform to find which beers he needs to drink next.  With my background on the SAP PI systems and BPMs there now is a gradually transitioning to the cloud so DJ’s experience is hugely valuable for my work.

DJ first started working on R/2 on IBM mainframes in the 1980’s and has been working with SAP software ever since.  He has been fascinated by the cloud platform and has worked with systems outside of the SAP world including Google App Engine.  He never worked much with PI but the workflow service is very closely related to SAP BPM.

Getting started with Workflow is really easy.  It’s available as a trial account on the Cloud Platform.  Users can easily enable it along with the Portal Service and the full stack Web IDE.  You need to define your workflow definitions.  You need nothing other than a web browser to access those services.

The workflow service is about orchestrating services and tasks across applications but also across systems, organizations, and individuals.  There is a service task building block that effectively gives you the ability to make HTTP calls.  You also have script tasks that will let you mess around with the context of the data of the workflow instance.  There is also a mail task.  Then there is the most important step type in a workflow definition which is the user task.  Those let you send tasks to a user to let them be able to interact with that workflow instance.

You don’t need to code very much in the UI when you’re first getting started.  But if you are going to do any meaningful workflows you will need to do some coding to create user task interfaces for the SAP Fiori My Inbox app, which is a master-detail style app. The user task components you build are injected into the component container in the My Inbox app when tasks are selected for processing.  You need to know some SAPUI5 in order to do that, but the team plans to release a forms-based facility to create user task interfaces in the future.

 

 

 

 

014 Testing SAP PI/PO now and in the future, Cloud Integration Testing

In this episode, I’m sharing what IRT 2.2 is and the future of testing SAP PI/PO and Cloud Integration. I cover some of the new features delivered in release and where I would like to take the tools. 

So my vision is to create to create an integrated development platform for developers to make it a lot easier to monitor what is being delivered. So we will support the developer all the way from an incident or problem, to create a ticket for it. Log the changes made on the ticket and then figure out what to test for it. In this release, we offered a way to look at your repository objects and make comparisons on them to see what the changes in them were. This enables you to assign a ticket to each change and use it i the change management. We also enable you to look at message mappings and the show all ICOs that uses that message mapping. This is the key component in giving you the ability to monitor changes.

The other great feature we added is the ability to test the SAP Cloud Platform Integration (CPI aka HCI) . We can now do regression test of HTTP scenarios and for other scenarios, you need to have resent the same messages. In 2.3 we are giving you the option to also test other scenarios and help you select the locations you want to compare. We have made this progress in the two weeks since the trace functionality was released for cloud integration. The trace allow us to get messages from all steps of the processing just by change the log level of the flow. It was quite lucky that it was released now and we did not have to make a lot of modifications to the flow to get correct logging messages.

Have a look at the blog about the release to read all about the features at release note blog about the cloud testing and the change management of SAP PI

13 – The how-to guide to SAP Cloud Connector with Morten Wittrock

I’m really pleased to welcome, for the first time, one of my old colleagues in the SAP world onto the show. We’ve covered a lot of ground over the last 12 episodes but today I want to discuss the SAP Cloud Connector. To that end I’m joined by Morten Wittrock an SAP technologist based from KMD in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Morten and I started working together back in 2005. His focus has gradually shifted towards SAP Cloud Platform so he is the perfect person to talk about the Cloud Connector.

Morten is one of the top experts on the Cloud Connector. He’s literally written the book on the subject titled Cloud Connector for SAP Cloud Platform: How-to Guide. Cloud Connector exists to solve a problem created when a company combines their on-site SAP system with the Cloud Platform. Accessing the Cloud Platform from the on-site system is not a problem. But the reverse is more difficult. The on-site system sits behind several firewalls and is not supposed to be accessible from the internet.

You can win Morten’s book, share the podcast with Hashtag #Integrationpodcast on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, then I’ll draw two winners of the limited edition of the Cloud Connector book in paper format.  

The benefit of Cloud Connector is that you don’t have to allow any incoming traffic. The software is installed in the DMZ between your innermost and outermost firewalls. Cloud connector will open a TLS encrypted tunnel to the SAP Cloud Platform. From that point on whenever the Cloud Platform needs to access the on-site system, it will utilize that tunnel.

Cloud Platform continues to add new features. The most recent 2.11 has increased the number of APIs dramatically. There is also created a proof-of-concept command line tool for Cloud Connector which uses some of the functionality of the APIs.

Morten will be hosting an SAP Inside Track event Saturday May 5th, 2018. The event is full of cutting edge presentations on all things SAP. Tickets are still available

Morten really likes Cloud Connector. It’s a very useful tool despite being only a small part of the SAP system.

012 – Navigating the SAP community with Gayathri Narayana

Today on the show I’m happy to welcome Gayathri Narayana onto the show.  Gayathri Narayana is a product manager for SAP Cloud Platform Integration and IoT. She focuses on digital engagement, partner ecosystem, product roll out, cloud integration community and product definition. She has 10 years of experience in SAP integration technology and has led customer engagement initiatives, moderated MOOC courses like openSAP and is a regular speaker at conferences such as SAP TechEd.

On the show, we cover the following things.

Community page. This is a pretty good overview of what is happening with cloud integration topic. It is a pretty good place where you can find some of the highlighted resources for SAP Cloud Integration

 https://www.sap.com/community/topic/cloud-integration.html

Blueprint is proven guide from SAP for solving real-life business problems leveraging the cloud platform and its various services. They give a pretty good overview of the components involved to do a specific objective that covers multiple services. Like the Automating Employee Onboarding Processes document, that covers SuccessFactor, S4 HANA and the SAP Cloud Platform for Integration and Workflow. There is also a number of interesting ones for the security with the cloud platform.

 https://www.sap.com/developer/blueprints.html

Learning journeys is a place to view all the service offerings that SAP has for a given area, so it collects all relevant information and resources to take into account. It is both Open SAP courses, class room training and other guides to follow, so they will be a good place to figure out what areas are interesting to understand. One journey for Cloud Integration has just been published. You can find it here https://help.sap.com/doc/0c3db190da2c4866a1f2906763d4f59a/Cloud/en-US/f4a390d6ee7147aa89ba587102702677.html 

All learning journeys: https://help.sap.com/doc/221f8f84afef43d29ad37ef2af0c4adf/HP_2.0/en-US/317030086f83418a94dfe94173b46584.html

Road map for SAP Integration. We cover the roadmap for SAP integration a little. This covers some focus on self-service of users, moving to a cloud only development and then the new Cloud Integration Content Advisor. I’m sure that we will cover the areas in more details in a future episode. You can find the SAP roadmaps at the SAP RoadMap site

 

011 – IoT integration using SAP Leonardo with Mrinal Wadhwa

The number of internet connected devices continues to grow daily. But managing that huge increase in information is no easy task. That’s why I wanted to invite Mrinal Wadhwa, the CTO of Fybr, to join me on the show this week.

Fybr has been developing a number of IoT (Internet of Things) devices that are usually wireless low power units that can be installed in remote or hard to access places. One of the first devices they created was a hockey puck sized device that can be installed in individual parking spots. That device then connects to a central server to show if a parking spot is occupied or not. The devices don’t communicate with one another in the physical world because that would take too much power. Instead Fybr has developed the idea of a “digital twin”. The twin of the device exists on the server side and that allows all of the information collected by the individual devices to be shared across the network.

Developing those digital twins allows the user to create “business rules” for each device. You can tell the device when to go to sleep and when to wake up. You can also change the amount charged for a parking space during different times of the day. Whether those rules live on the server or on the device itself is decided based on the application.

One of the biggest issues in IoT development is over the air updates. A new business rule has been created and the company wants to push that code to the device. There is a fundamental problem, though. If you are constantly updating devices with new code and you make an error you run the risk of bricking the devices. Fybr has solved this problem by creating a tiny virtual machine that lives inside FybrLyn’s. Because it’s a virtual machine that is independent of the actual hardware code it functions as a sandbox. You can push business logic to the edge on a regular basis without fear of harming communication with the remote device.

Fybr’s system specializes in low power wireless devices but that’s not the only kind of IoT device. A customer may have powered devices or large manufacturing machines as well. The SAP Leonardo IoT is very well positioned to bring all that data into one place. The IoT created some required steps that should be performed. This could be to send a service technician to perform work, this would require a work order and here SAP would be integrated and handle those actions. Or it could be the new sales order to a printer ink that needs to be purchased and sent.

As IoT continues to expand there are huge hurdles to overcome. If Fybr’s parking sensors were deployed in every parking spot in America it would require hundreds of millions of devices. The scale of that information will be incredibly challenging to manage. There are also security challenges that have to be solved. A connected machine in a manufacturing facility is very well guarded. It’s very difficult to access that machine.

But a smart city sensors are installed on streets. Someone could spend hours trying to access the sensor without anyone knowing. The sensors will have to include some kind of encryption key. Anyone could steal the device and figure out the key. If a device cannot keep a secret than how can you trust if the device is providing accurate information? That is a huge challenge that is hard to solve for many smart infrastructure applications. Fybr has tried to solve it by carefully monitoring the life cycle of each key in each device.

Mrinal says IoT is a big challenging world. There are a number of unresolved problems. And there has not yet been very large scale deployments. There is tremendous possibilities in this space by combining traditional SAP knowledge with this new class of devices.

010 – Using SAP Operational Process Intelligence (OPI)

Today on the show I’m going to do something a little different. Instead of inviting a guest to join me today I’m going to talk a little about OPI or Operational Process Intelligence. SAP OPI is a product that…

offers real-time end-to-end process monitoring combined with pattern detection, analytics, alerting, and response management. It gives business users real-time visibility into processes and the ability to respond swiftly – enabling better, faster decision-making to achieve greater agility in business operations.”

OPI is helping out with BAM(Business Activity Monitoring). I first encountered BAM back in 2006, when I was working on writing a bachelor assignment. The goal is to give better information into what is happening an organization. Which processes were taking too long time and where to improve them and give real-time monitoring if anything was failing. This is the goal of SAP OPI. So it was only in 2015 that I got a chance to work with OPI in practice at a customer site.

I also created a video on them as an alternative to the podcast. Same content just saved on youtube.

 

In this podcast I will cover the following things.

Use case

  • BPM and show how runs
  • Process phases and to identify what needs to be done

Challenges

  • Getting BPM process information – You need a Solman role in SAP PRO
  • Reporting information from BPM requires the use of data source in the BPM flow
  • Some KPI easy to use like a number of processes or duration of steps. 
  • Complex take bit more work like % of processes that worked. 
  • HANA development you will need to learn a lot of HANA to be a good developer

Future

  • No SP for 1½ year, so it does not seem like a tool that has a lot of future. 
  • It would make sense for SAP to move it to Cloud Platform in some form and then have integration tools to get data
  • Process Miner – Celonis is SAP tool to understand what is going on in a process. 
Today we are going to discuss API management with Bram Keijers who works as an SAP Integration Consultant with Proxellence. Most of the company's clients are using integration middleware and so API management is just starting to be backed up by customers. It's still a relatively new feature having only been released by SAP three years ago. Bram tries to convince clients to use the API management feature for any services exposed to an SAP gateway. Suppose a customer has an SAP backend system like ECC that is providing employee data to third parties. If another third party needs to access the same data the old method was to create an entirely different interface and another integration flow. What you can do with API management is to create a central interface and there you can govern access to all third parties. That means it's going to be a lot cheaper and easier to get your end point exposed. The price is fairly affordable. There is a cloud platform pricing calculator that you can access here. € 180 per month will cover a million calls per month. Bram really likes the new consumption based pricing. It's cheap enough that new customers can try it out for a few months and experiment with it. SAP's strategy is to allow customers to try different parts of the platform at a low price. If you have any other questions about SAP API management you can contact Bram here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bram-keijers-proxcellence/

009 – API management using SAP with Bram Keijers

Today we are going to discuss API management with Bram Keijers who works as an SAP Integration Consultant with Proxellence. Most of the company’s clients are using integration middleware and so API management is just starting to be backed up by customers. It’s still a relatively new feature having only been released by SAP three years ago.

Bram tries to convince clients to use the API management feature for any services exposed to an SAP gateway. Suppose a customer has an SAP backend system like ECC that is providing employee data to third parties. If another third party needs to access the same data the old method was to create an entirely different interface and another integration flow. What you can do with API management is to create a central interface and there you can govern access to all third parties. That means it’s going to be a lot cheaper and easier to get your end point exposed.

The price is fairly affordable. There is a cloud platform pricing calculator that you can access here. 180 per month will cover a million calls per month. Bram really likes the new consumption based pricing. It’s cheap enough that new customers can try it out for a few months and experiment with it. SAP’s strategy is to allow customers to try different parts of the platform at a low price.

Recommended places to get started with SAP API management

API management overview:
https://blogs.sap.com/2016/03/03/sap-api-management-overview-getting-started/

Deep dive blog:
https://blogs.sap.com/2016/01/08/deep-dive-on-sap-api-management-powered-by-hcp-publish-consume-and-monitor-apis-in-secure-and-scalable-manner/

Building & Consuming API’s:
part 1, configuration and API portal: https://blogs.sap.com/2016/02/24/building-consuming-apis-using-sap-api-management-part-1/

part 2, Developer portal:  https://blogs.sap.com/2016/02/25/building-consuming-apis-using-sap-api-management-part-2/

OData services discovery in API Management:
https://blogs.sap.com/2016/02/10/how-to-use-sap-api-management-on-hcp-trial/

If you have any other questions about SAP API management you can contact Bram here:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/bram-keijers-proxcellence/

Today we're going to return to the subject of testing and look at another case study. This time we're joined by Peter Atling who recently worked on the PI/PO and webMethods upgrade at AkzoNobel As the test manager Peter executed several kinds of testing including regression testing. At the beginning of the project Peter was asked to find a tool that could handle some automated testing. At AkzoNobel testing middleware is not that easy. Over the last couple of years many interfaces have been implemented. The company uses PI mainly for application to application interfaces. 500 interfaces are being run over the system. The company needed to implement automated testing in order to better improve the system. Peter downloaded one of the earliest versions of Figaf's IRT to implement regression testing. There was a serious discussion about the use of an automated tool for this kind of work. They tend to want to do some tests for themselves. It was the mapping function that won the day because it removes the need to check all the fields. Their users want see that the interface is running. But Peter thinks as the use of this tool becomes more commonplace there will be more confidence in it's use. Peter feels the tool is really useful for fast growing companies who depend on PI for their delivery process. Without a good regression testing tool problems with PI can become a bottleneck. Convincing the development team to use the IRT was fairly easy because of it's ease of use.

008 Testing SAP PI/PO at AkzoNobel

Today we’re going to return to the subject of testing and look at another case study. This time we’re joined by Pieter Atling who recently worked on the SAP PI/PO and webMethods upgrade at AkzoNobel As the test manager Pieter executed several kinds of testing including regression testing. At the beginning of the project, Pieter was asked to find a tool that could handle some automated testing.

Pieter Atling

SAP expert Pieter Atling

At AkzoNobel testing middleware is a huge task as this is for most of the companies. Over the last couple of years many interfaces have been implemented. The company uses SAP PI mainly for application to application A2A interfaces. 500 interfaces are being run over the system. The company needed to implement automated testing in order to better improve the system. Pieter downloaded one of the earliest versions of Figaf’s IRT to implement regression testing.

Besides regression testing with the IRT tooling also end-to-end testing is done to make sure the interface is working as it should work. The expectation is that with the help of the tool upgrades could be done more frequently so that only regression tests have to be done combined with some manual testing done by the technical teams and that the user is not involved  or just limited involved. But Pieter thinks as the use of this tool becomes more commonplace there will be more confident in it’s use.

The approach how regression testing is done with IRT, is more or less the same as the approach followed for regression the webMethods platform that is also used by AkzoNobel.

Pieter feels the tool is really useful for fast growing companies who depend on SAP PI for their delivery process. Without a good regression testing tool problems with SAP PI can become a bottleneck. Convincing the development team to use the IRT was fairly easy because of it’s ease of use.