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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.

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

007 – Choosing between Boomi, Mulesoft and PI with Kishore Nanda

Kishore Nanda is an integration expert who has worked with SAP for many years. In this edition of the podcast, we discuss his experience with SAP PI and Cloud Integrationas well as Dell Boomi and Mulesoft. He has been working on various integration solutions using a variety of platforms. Too often professionals develop myopic focus on SAP without paying attention to other solutions like Boomi and Mulesoft. As a person coming from the SAP ecosystem, it is interesting to hear what is going on in the world outside.

Dell Boomi offers a cloud application that includes interfaces that can be deployed throughout the cloud. The can have instances running on servers that can use in multiple deployment options. Atom Cloud, for example, allows for the same instances running in multiple places which allows for load balancing and offers very high reliability. Boomi also offers predefined content very similar to SAP. My interpretation is that it depends on the supplied APIs and how they work.

Mulesoft have a full integration suite that supports the same things as SAP PI/PO with ESB, API management, and Workflow/BPM. It design approach is different for the integrations.

Kishore says the best reason that an SAP PI user should consider using Boomi or Mulesoft is licensing and how they integrate with a specific system. The key point is that Boomi allows you to deploy an optimized solution for those customers who don’t want to move all of their systems onto the cloud. On the downside, Boomi and Mule have a greater learning curve because of their reliance on more programmatic language.

006 – How to automate SAP PI/PO testing with Mark Oshifeso from Anadarko Petrolium

In this episode, we will talk about SAP PI/PO testing and how to automate it with Figaf IRT.

I’m very happy to have Mark Oshifeso on the show. Mark was one of the first people to use Figaf’s new Integration Regression Tool for SAP PI/PO. Mark works for a mid-size oil and gas producer based in Texas. He and his team upgrade the systems on a regular basis and have found the IRT especially useful on their PI systems.

Mark wanted to make it a lot easier to do upgrades of the SAP PI/PO system. The big challenge was that he used to upgrade the SAP PI/PO system only every 2-3 years because the testing requirement was really big. So the cost was too high it too a long time between upgrades.

“Fully automated testing in the SAP world is pretty rare.” He says.

Mark compares the IRT to other testing options on the market very favorably.

“It’s crazy easy to use.” He added.

The IRT doesn’t require you to learn a programming language and can be taught to someone in as little as an hour. Mark and his team decided to introduce the tool and create a test catalog by upgrading their PI system from one service tech level to a more recent version. They were able to complete their work quite quickly.

One of the big things that I’m grateful Mark helped with is the business side and share how the business could react to automated testing. And then give me the good difference between the normal workflow testing tools and the Record Replay tool.

With the help of Figaf IRT Mark and Anadarko was able to setup a testing of all 300 interfaces in 4 weeks, part of this was the 3 weeks to create the test catalog. Once this is there the overall testing time should go down to 1 week including manual tests. And at the time Figaf where also doing development to enable the recording of the scenarios Mark was using.

You can see the slides here

In the podcast Mark also cover one of the big aspects which are to get business buying of the project. In Anadarko’s case, the business and accounting is responsible for making sure that there is sign off on all interfaces being tested. So each business owner needs to approve the testing result.

The business really enjoyed the testing framework and a lot of their questions was regarding how automated testing worked.

We also cover the two different approaches for testing.

Workflow based in which you define a scenario for testing a message. So you program to place a file here, and then SAP PI will map the file. Next step is then to query the receiving system if everything is correct. Mark estimated that it takes up to 4 hours (when special data etc is required). An interface which doesn’t require any special things can be done in 30min.

The other approach that Figaf IRT user’s is the Record/Replay. Here you simply copy some message from production and run them on your test system. If messages are different then you must evaluate if it is okay or you need to do something with it. Here you don’t have any coding options, but just simple configuration. All of this was enough for Mark and Anadarko to setup the testing.

Mark was using the Rest API of IRT to integrate it with HP ALM which is used to track all testing performed.

If you are looking to do setup any testing of your SAP PI/PO system then have a look at figaf.com/irt. We do have a free plan that will allow you to test 10 interface.

 

004 – Using ECC to create a BPM framework

I’m really excited to bring you today’s conversation. My guest is Jorge Iván Gaviria ABAP and PO Consultant working at the municipality of Medellin, Colombia.

Jorge created a framework to handle BPM requests in ECC that enabled users to access it both internally and externally.  That framework was used to create an online request form for users to fill in. The form metadata is created in the ABAP backend where users define the content of the form. The form is then processed with SAP BPM to sent it for approval at the correct users.  Jorge initially considered using the customer service model of SAP built on Java in the portal.  But he quickly discovered that it was not customizable enough.

Some sample screenshots of the application.

I hope you enjoy this conversation and learn a little about how to use the SAP PI framework to create forms in a different way.  But the audio quality is quite low on this episode.  I will try harder to make the future episodes easier to listen to.  I promise!

This is a big day for us at the Integration Podcast. We have launched our first few episodes and we're really excited to have you along for the ride! It's also a big day for my company Figaf. After a ton of work we are launching Version 2 of our Internet Regression Tool. We made many changes for this new version. It took three months of planning and two months of actual development time. It has been very costly but we did it for good reason. We could have added these new features to the old user interface but it would have created many problems. To back up a step, the IRT is testing solution for SAP PI systems. We were running two different versions of PI that used different Java versions. This created issues with libraries and mySQL databases. We had to support clustering in this new version but it added huge amounts of complexity to an already complex piece of software. That forced us back to the drawing board to craft a leaner solution. We made it much simpler to install and run on your local PC. And we've included a free version and a single user version. We wanted to offer that free version so you could get a good idea of how the tool operates and how it could help your organization. I hope you like it! To get a copy of Figaf Internet Regression Tool simply click the link. https://figaf.com/tools/integration-regression-tool/

003 – Our new Interface Regression Tool is done!

This is a big day for us at the Integration Podcast. We have launched our first few episodes and we’re really excited to have you along for the ride! It’s also a big day for my company Figaf.  That’s because after a ton of work we are launching Version 2 of our Interface Regression Tool. We made many changes for this new version. It took three months of planning and two months of actual development time. It has been very costly but we did it for good reason. We could have added these new features to the old user interface but it would have created many problems.

To back up a step, the IRT is testing solution for SAP PI systems. We were running two different versions of PI that used different Java versions. This created issues with libraries and OpenSQL databases. We had to support clustering in this new version but it added huge amounts of complexity to an already complex piece of software. That forced us back to the drawing board to craft a leaner solution.

We made it much simpler to install and run on your local PC. And we’ve included a free version and a single user version. We wanted to offer that free version so you could get a good idea of how the tool operates and how it could help your organization. I hope you like it!

To get a copy of Figaf Interface Regression Tool simply click the link.

https://figaf.com/tools/integration-regression-tool/

Today's episode is all about cloud integration. I'm joined by Marco Verhoef who has worked for the last seven years for a Netherlands utilities company. He has been pushing his company way from SAP-PI and towards cloud integration. The business case for making that transition was largely cost related. Cloud computing was a better solution for a number of reasons. First was eliminating the need for regular updates which was costing his company as much as €50 thousand per year. The hardware costs were dramatically lower as well. Just running the servers cost €6000 per month. Marco has achieved a lot in the two years since he first proposed a cloud strategy. They have installed an Azure environment. They have also implemented field class and an external worker environment. He thinks the field class setup was very similar to using SAP. He found that HCI was not that mature two years ago but by working with the product developers he was able to guide the process. One of the more frustrating issues using SAP was ccBPM. HCI uses one ID and one window to do configuration and development which is much more user friendly than SAP-PI. The entire process took Marco and his team 18 months to complete. Migrating all the interfaces was the biggest task. There have been no performance issues though at times it can be slow. Marco thinks that has more to do with bandwidth limitations rather than a processing issue. Marco says before considering cloud integration you need to know how complicated your current integrations are. Is it core business or just business support? A lot of companies don't even think about going to the cloud for their integration tool. Marco says everyone should at least think about it. It can be as little as €1500 per month. You can just start and create a proof of concept.

002 – Cloud integration stories with Marco Verhoef

Today’s episode is all about cloud integration. I’m joined by Marco Verhoef who has worked for the last seven years for a Netherlands utilities company called Eneco. He has been pushing his company way from SAP PI and towards SAP cloud Platform integration (CPI aka HCI).

The business case for making that transition was largely cost related. Cloud computing was a better solution for a number of reasons. First was eliminating the need for regular updates which was costing his company as much as €50 thousand per year. The hardware costs were dramatically lower as well. Just running the servers costs €6000 per month.

Marco has achieved a lot in the two years since he first proposed a cloud integration strategy. They have also implemented fieldglass, an external worker SAAS product. He thinks the fieldglass setup was very similar to using SAP PI. He found that CPI was not that mature two years ago but by working with the product developers he was able to guide the process.

One of the more frustrating issues using SAP PI was ccBPM. CPI uses one single integrated development environment to do configuration and development and is much more user friendly than SAP PI.

The entire process took Marco and his team 18 months to complete. Migrating all the interfaces was the biggest task. There have been no performance issues though at times it can be slow. Marco thinks that has more to do with bandwidth limitations rather than a processing issue.

Marco says before considering cloud integration you need to know how complicated your current integrations are. Is its core business or just business support? A lot of companies don’t even think about going to the cloud for their integration tool yet. Marco says everyone should at least think about it. For as little as €1500 per month you can start and create a proof of concept.