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Posts Tagged ‘SAP NetWeaver PI’

microsoft_sapI have written my master thesis about SAP systems integration at one of the biggest energy companies in Europe. The company is called Vattenfall and owned by Swedish government. Since the size of the company is large, so that the data size which will be transferred within and outside of the company is also large. Thats why systems integration plays a very crucial role in Vattenfall’s IT concerns. The company is very much SAP centric and the SAP systems are increasing in number and size. This increasing trend intensifies the need for SAP systems integration and an integration platform, which is the most plug and play integration engine for SAP systems, could be of benefit. That’s why I made a qualitative study to evaluate SAP NetWeaver PI to help Vattenfall Nordic to decide whether it can be used as main integration platform at Vattenfall Nordic instead of BizTalk.

SAP PI is coming! I think the product will be used more commonly once SAP solves the core problems. For example SAP PI is a dual stack product and complex to configure, use and manage. The product is very much based on hub and spoke, centralized architecture. But I think it must be (will be) 100% java based, distributed product. Also SAP NetWeaver BPM and PI are emerging more and more. These are all good things for the future of the product. As I mentioned before, PI is coming and will be used commonly in SAP depended companies!

I do not want to write all of my finding again but, you can download my master thesis from here: SAP Systems Integration Master Thesis Final Report. I look forward to hearing from you.

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NetWeaver is SAP’s latest application platform suite and the foundation for all future SAP applications. As companies add new SAP applications or upgrade to mySAP ERP, the core components of NetWeaver will automatically be there. For example; Enterprise Portal, Process Integration, Master Data Management, Business Process Management, Business Intelligence.

This means SAP PI will be part of SAP investments and it will already be there. Another important fact is that if a company purchases SAP applications such as, Customer Relationship Management, Supply Chain Management, Product Lifecycle Management SAP PI is the standard integration platform from R/3 and other applications to these new modules. Because all of these solutions are built on top of the NetWeaver platform and PI is the integration part of NetWeaver platform suite. So, all of the mySAP licensees have access to this tool set waiting unused on the shelf, if they decide not to use PI. All in all, for large SAP customers it is not a question of  “if” it is a question of “when and how much” are they going to use SAP PI.

PI_ProductVersions

But on the contrary, SAP XI (now called PI) is definitely a “closed” product. It runs on a SAP Web Application Server, which is a combination of a J2EE stack and ABAP stack (ABAP is the proprietary SAP programming language). The core parts of SAP PI run in this ABAP stack, in particular all the queuing and business processes (BPEL). Other parts such as connectivity and adapters runs in theJ2EE stack. Most software assets that are developed in PI are proprietary (maybe except for XSLT transformations). So software components from 3rd parties (such as iWay or Seeburger) need to be customized to run on/in PI. The architecture of SAP PI/XI is definitely closed and proprietary, but so are most integration solutions.

On the other hand SAP does endorse a large number of standards: J2EE, HTTP(S), XML, XML Schema, SOAP, WSDL, WS-Security, . Like all the other integration vendors. PI comes out-of-the-box with adapters for JMS, File/FTP, JDBC, HTTP, SOAP and obviously the SAP specific IDoc and RFC adapters. The (XMB) protocol that PI uses internally to communicate between its different components (standalone adapter engines, proxies, other PI instances) is based on SOAP with Attachments (MIME), with proprietary extensions for security and reliability.

From the experiences of other people, SAP PI works OK and is a good integration solution that matches the offerings of other EAI vendors. But it is a rather complex product. Now, PI only makes sense if you have a large SAP installation and a major part of your applications are from SAP. In particular, your SAP team can leverage their knowledge to manage an integration solution that runs on the same base infrastructure. If SAP applications only play a minor role in your organization, you might still deploy PI for opening up your SAP applications and SAP-2-SAP interfacing, but you will most likely combine this with other integration solutions.

So, because of all these problems and complexity, it is not recommended to use PI outside SAP world. But, SAP is investing time and money to make their product more open and simple. So, just wait and see how PI will penetrate into the main market. I have lots of cool ideas and documents about the future of PI, just fallow my blog and my master thesis report.

PS: Thanks to Guy Crets from Belgium

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