034 – Paw Sandal on Microsoft/Azure Integration

I had the great pleasure of talking with Paw Sandal Pedersen, who is an Microsoft Integration expert at a danish company called Bizbrains. Paw is very experience working with Microsoft integration technologies and I think it was very interesting to hear his oppinion on topics like BizTalk Azure, Logic Apps, Microsoft Flow and EDI.


BizTalk

We did have a talk about BizTalk. It have been evolving much like SAP PI for the last long time. Microsoft have not wanted to say a lot about the future of the product, as they wanted more cloud usage. Now they have released plans of a 2019 version to give customers support for longer duration and the ability to integrate more with the cloud.

Logic Apps can be used by anyone

We talk about Logic Apps. It is Microsoft Serverless technology that allow you to only pay for the number of actions you perform. This is a new way of making integration possible. It allow integration to get to smaller organisations and run there.

Logic apps is this new way of creating integration, so as a developer you don’t have to think about which servers, you just pay pr. action, there is a lot of connectors, that helps you to connect to a system“, paw says and continue: “There are 300 connectors at the moment that Microsoft supplies, and you also have the possibility to create custom connector.”

It is fairly simple to start creating the Logic Apps, but you will need to know how to process documents in the way that is most effecient with regards to the license of pay per action. For some customers the license model is better, where as for other project a BizTalk solution is better.

There is also the Flow service, which allow business users to create Logic Apps without much knowledge on the background processing. So a Citizen integration approach.

EDI Integration

One of the products that Bizbrains have is a tool to help with EDI partner management just like the B2B Add-on called Link.

I can see it gives a number of features in a more user friendly way, like partner management, documents tracking and easy creation of new EDI agreements. Often this is more or less only for developers or It Admins. It is possible to integrate with SAP using BizTalk SAP Adapter or Logic App SAP Connector, but there is currently no possibility to use SAP PI/PO as an engine for transformation and transport of the documents. If more customers ask then it could be relevant.

Many customers talk about API is the way to go but if you have 300 partners it can be a lot easier if you can follow one common approach for handling your partner integration.

We also talk about the Peppol a new standard for exchanging e-Invoices with European governments and also businesses. It contains the option to lookup partner information and then uses it for sending the data to providers. It will be interesting to see how the adoption of it will be.

We discussed that and other topics during the Integration Podcast. It was interesting to see how much Microsoft and SAP is looking when viewing their approach for integration.

033 – What Integration challenges I see

In this podcast about Figaf´s Integration Regression Tool I take a look at some of the challenges, that SAP is facing with integration.

As an independent developer of both tools and courses regarding SAP I get to talk to quite a few customers when presenting my tool. And I can see how the tool can help them in the process of planning their workflow.

Some of the most common challenges I see are as follow:

  • How the change in integration
  • Cloud means
  • S4 also impacts the way most will be doing integration

Key question: Where is your architecture?

Many people working with SAP are struggling with understanding CPI and how it should fit into their organization. There seems to be a spike in the number of requests for projects, and the developers have to skilled in both CPI and PI. It is of course very important to ensure that the developers do not break anything. The key question is where your architecture should be.

Automize your  testing

Figaf´s IRT is a tool made for testing. It will automize many of the things you do manuale, and it will lower your number of errors. It will help you test:  

  • What kind of impact it will have.
  • Will be more widly used
  • Hope that we will be the place of choise for customers wanting a better testing framework
  • Will see how we can integrate with it, when customers are there

Monitoring

IRT also offers Monitoring:

  • CPI is quite a different way to monitor than PI.
  • Need some external tool for it

The best way to implement

Finally, IRT gives you great input when you have to find out, when is the best way to implement:

  • If you have the data in the delivery but
  • Can see how the tool fits your organisation
  • Regression when making changes.

032 – Successfactor integration with Luke Marson

I had the pleasure of having Luke Marson as a guest in the Integration Podcast who is a solution architect at Ixerv. He is an experienced solution architect and widely-recognized expert in SuccessFactors and SAP ERP HCM. He Provides end-to-end HR and HR technology strategy, advisory, assessments, roadmaps, transformation, optimization, and implementation services for large, global enterprise customers.

Luke Marson has been around the SAP space for a decade, more than half of that is within the SAP SuccessFactors space. He has been solution architect, integration architect, a lead consultant, a project director and also different roles over the years, working with customers on SAP SuccessFactors transformations.

A proven, powerful integration platform

There are a few different options, you can look at it from a perspective of middleware technology, from API´s and then from functionality within SuccessFactors itself. So, from a middleware perspective when you subscribe to employ central, as part of the subscription customers will get a subscription for SAP Cloud platform integration, and that essentially provides you with an unlimited amount of integration connections as long as one end of the integration, either the inbound or outbound, is touching the employee central system. Now it is a proven, powerful integration platform, previously SAP had up in the atmosphere into the employee central subscription. That´s still available for customers on request, most costumes are getting the news in the SAP cloud platform integration as their middleware employee central.

There are two core foundational API´s, there is the SuccessFactor API, that’s the original SOAP-based API and now the OData V2 and V4 that are taking over. There is also the Integration Center that allows business users to perform integration and developing reports them self. There is some collaboration between the two sides.

After doing a SuccessFactors project I do understand some of the complexity of the suite and what needs to be integrated. We cover some of the pre-packaged content where a lot of the modifications is because of customization on the backend SAP systems. Here some of your customizations will cause the integration to be more difficult.

 

 

031 – SAP Open Connectors

I  had the pleasure of having Bogdan Petrescu as a guest in the Integration Podcast. He is the director of Strategic Accounts at Cloud Elements – a fast growing API integration platform for SaaS companies and enterprises. I think we had a great talk, and it was very interesting to hear Bogdan Petrescus thoughts on what SAP Open Connectors can do.

One of the key challenges for integration strategy for SAP customers and partners are becoming connectivity to third-party applications. One gap has been the ability for those services to make the third part application easier so that users don’t have to build their own connectors.

Open Connectors is a way to fill that gap and take all the amazing integration services, that have already been delivered and continue to be innovating and basically add third part connectivity as a component directly in the product. Developers working on the platform of Cloud Elements do not have to work with other types of API or connectivity message, everything on the open connectors platform is exposed to a rest API.

170 application connectors

The Open connector platform has about 170 application connectors which are market-leading apps across marketing, sales automation, payments and more. It is possible to build new connectors to every endpoint who is offering an API.

When it comes to mapping data that’s traveling between SAP a not SAP-systems it can be quite a challenge because those applications are not requiring to maintain any kind of standard data model of course. So along with the mapping method, one of the normalization components is the ability to work with consumer data. As long as the endpoint to CPI that is used in the connector allows access to the custom data, is will be possible to translate that through API´s.

So when you are building those virtual data resources or even doing mapping and CPI which works perfectly as well, you are working with a full payload and not just a standard field of objects.

 

 

030 – What is your SAP Integration Migration

In this last episode of the Integration Podcast, I’m talking about something that will probably affect you next year. I know a lot of companies are planning migration projects. Therefore does it make sense to talk about it here, so you can get my views on the topic.

I’m covering my views on

  • Dual stack to Single stack migration
  • Should you upgrade if you have a single stack 7.31/7.4 system to 7.5 and what you will get
  • Third Party to SAP PI/PO
  • Using of Cloud Integration Content
  • Seeburger migration

I created a video while recording the podcast.

Migration Planning

At Figaf we are working on improving the IRT tool, so you can use it to gain an understanding of your SAP Integration. So you can see how many times a given message mapping, Java or XSL mapping has been executed. I think it will make it a lot easier to understand who big your integration effort will be. It should also be able to recognize which Message Mappings is using the Seeburger Message format.

Once you have a plan and an overview it is easier to start estimating the number of resources and developers you need for the project. Can you do it with your existing developers or do you need more consultants. It also depends on the number of hours you need to spend on the migration.

 

Business Case for a migration

Nobody cares about you running your Migration Project, and the business would probably prefer you did not do it. Because you will not be able to deliver new integration for a period of time. The big cust will though be if you don’t do it and are stuck on an unsupported version of the SAP PI system. Also, it will be more difficult to make new development and if you have to create ccBPMs that need to be converted at some point in the future to a bigger cost.

If they are going to be involved because of the testing, it may be an idea to get the Figaf IRT application to perform business test so the business doesn’t need to spend time on it.

You can get a list of all my resources at and be notified

 

 

029 – SAP Integration with Adam Kiwon

In this podcast, I have a conversation with Adam Kiwon. Adam is a part of WhitePaper InterfaceDesign. He is posting some of his products and idea at https://www.integration-excellence.com. Adam and his team have created different CPI Adapters, content, and product for making SAP PI/PO better.  

We do cover quite a bit of different areas regarding integration, it was pretty educational for me to be a part of the conversation.

  • Migration strategies when it makes sense. And we talk a little about upgrading single stack 7.31 system and migration to single stack
  • Creating CPI adapters and how they did it
  • How to create CPI content as a partner and the CPI marketplace
  • How Adam sees the need for tools to improve CPI/PI where he has different interface monitoring systems
  • Why Adam had proposed to use the Figaf Seeburger tools for migrating to the B2B Add-on on a project
  • We talked about some of the training they where working on for the CPI.

 

028 – CPI SuccessFactor and Cloud Integration Patterns

I had a chance to meet  at #SITCPH two weeks ago. Vadim is an Integration Architect at ARM.  We got to talk a lot on integration and what was going one. I have been looking a lot on Vadim blogs on sap.com like the SAP PI adapter logging or the dark side of Groovy Scripting.

I talked with Vadim Klimov about how new tools have an influence on the way we work with cloud integration and how flows for different scenarios can help us understand the integration with SuccessFactors using SAP CPI and a prem PI. I’m currently involved in a project where we are using OData V2 to access SuccessFactors data. There are some challenges involved with it. We need some workaround to be able to see information about people starting in the future. In The Integration Center in SuccessFactors, their are many options, when you are looking for filed-based integration. The interface is web-based and allows business users to easily create files. Vadim is using the CPI and PI to move the file to their own landscape.

We also talked about how they do error handling in CPI and what makes sense in that perspective. The process works differently than in PI, so you must understand how it works best there.  At Figaf we are improving the capabilities to monitor, test and support your CPI systems, so you can get notifications about what is going on.

We also cover Groovy development, as I would like to understand Vadim thinking on the area.

It was a very interesting conversation which I hope, you will enjoy.

 

 

 

027 – The future of SAP Integration

Tuesday, November 13. 2018, I just hosted a webinar about the key takeaways from SAP Teched and how to implement things based on it. It thinks it was one of my own webinars with most viewers (40). So it is an important topic. I think I missed the Gartner quote that 50% of the development budget will be about integration or something in that line.

When we were starting to see some cloud applications I did not see so many integrations. Lately, I have seen quite a number of a project involving some cloud application. I had seen that SAP would be able to provide some of the content as pre-delivered, but there are going to be so much more than you will need to develop. I just got an email from an SAP customer that they got a tsunami of cloud integration, so it is other areas as well.

Understand where you are going

On the webinar, I do cover how you can understand your own integrations and try to plan what integration you should be doing. I recommend that you take a look at the Integration Solution Advisor – Methodology. It has been updated and I have talked with quite a few architects using it and it gave them a good understanding of what they should be doing.

Roadmap

Then I cover the current state of the SAP PI roadmap, which will affect your existing integration. I do see the CPI on your SAP PI system as a good option to run some of your content. You probably want to start a migration if you are on a dual stack system, I have some resources on how you can do an SAP PI migration project. If you have Seeburger and want to migrate to B2B Add-on I created a webinar on how you can automate the migration. I also recorded a podcast on how a customer did a migration of Seeburger to B2B Add-on.

After you have been going thru your ISA-M you will have some integration patterns that you need new tools for. I’m covering SAP Cloud offerings for integration and their full iPaaS product. I think it would be wise to use the SAP tools first to see if they suit your needs and if not then you can find a better vendor for the solution. SAP will be adding new functions to the Cloud Offering to address the customers needs.

Operations

There is a need to make more integration at a faster pace. And you are probably not able to get more people on your team. So it is about making them as effective as possible. At Figaf we have created solutions to enable the development process to be a little easier from development, documentation, testing and supporting. You can check our tool Figaf IRT that can support the full lifecycle. I think it will help you improve your development of new features, so you will be more flexible and develop things faster.

Next week I’m hosting a webinar where I’ll cover how you can use the Figaf IRT tool to optimize your SAP PI and CPI development process.

 

View the presentation

You can watch the full video here.

 

 

026 – Migrating to SAP B2B Add-On

Today I discuss B2B migration with Kishore Enumula.  Kishore works with the Salling Group (Dansk Supermarket Group) one of the biggest retailers in Denmark. He has just been leading a migration from Seeburger BIC to B2B Add-on from SAP. I see that many consumers are moving away from Seeburger and starting to use SAP B2B Add-on.  Salling Group decided to migrate because they were their database had limited future support. They had no choice but to stop using the Seeburger tools. They had around 60-70 different message mapping they needed to migrate.  The entire process took about six months to complete.

Salling had 2000 partners listed in the Trading Partner Management (TPM) tool. They used the API to re-create all the partners because it would have been too difficult to manually enter all that information.  There were some performance problems and they needed to improve the CPA object cache to have all the partners defined. TPM also gave a good visibility to how was the active partners.

They created completely new mappings to the new structure, which gave the option to remove some of the old bad habits and use the new B2B functions.

In this podcast we also discuss:

  • Reasons why migration
  • Project time span and planning 
  • They build a tool for EDI team to manage the partners.
  • TPM performance was good once they enhanced the cache
  • Longtime archiving of EDI Messages. 

Figaf notes on the project

If you are considering a migration project do listen to the podcast and get the takeaways from it.

We have two offerings that will help in the process.

  • Seeburger migration tool. This will take the Seeburger Mapping and convert the structure of B2B Add-on. This will allow you to save many hours on the structure conversions. Read more on how it works on your SAP PI/PO system.
  • The other is Figaf IRT a test tool that makes it easier to set up tests and run them. It supports EDIFACT/X12 comparison and the B2B Splitter. It have a lot of features and can be used for more than just the b2b migration. So it supports the full development lifecycle of SAP PI. Check it out at https://figaf.com/IRT.

025 – What is going on SAP PI with Udo Paltzer

I got a chance to get a conversation with Udo Paltzer, product manager on many integration tools from SAP, about the future roadmap of SAP PI Integration at the SAPSA/IFG conference. There has been a lot of discussion going on what it was and where customers should doing with their SAP PI/PO systems. It was really nice to get a chat with the Expert on the topic of what is the SAP direction.

A big topic is the use of SAP PI/PO where it will take us. So we do talk about it together with the SAP roadmap for it. What will the next release of SAP PI be and how you can influence it. What is happening to the BPM/BRM and ABAP stack. I had thought that the dual-stack option was complete of the table for the next release, but it may be possible that even it will be in the release. Though it is not a recommended option, and have not been for a long time.

Udo recommended that every user of SAP PI-systems upgrade to 7.5 (newest version), and he also mentioned that users are very welcome to write about any kinds of problems regarding to SAP Pi in the cloud. By doing so it is possible for SAP to react or respond quickly if necessary.

The new thing and useful is the option to run CPI on-prem to use for BPM processes, where you have some technical requirement. It is a pretty good way for SAP to be able to leverage dual delivery strategy, to have a rock solid PI for all the “standard” messages. Then they can deliver new innovation on the CPI part.

We also cover the new Cloud Integration Suite, which is the iPaaS offering from SAP around all cloud development and tools. It is pretty good to get your hands on to understand what to do and the model allow you to pay for the services that you use.

You can read more about the Impuls18 and IFG Integration conference here.

We did have some sound problems, so it is not an ideal sound. But the content is pretty good, I hope.

 

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