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Posts Tagged ‘SAP’

gustaf and alperI have presented my master thesis last week and started to work for HP as a junior product chef. I have spent more than 4 months to complete my master thesis and the most single difficult part for me was the writing part. I think it is crucial to have good communication with your academic supervisor, since he/she decides how you should write and how much you should write. After this master thesis I began to abhor the communication problems. Giving an example, I wrote 100 pages at the beginning and spent almost 3 weeks to write it, then my supervisor wanted me to cut it down to 30 pages (max.). It was a very big hassle. Moreover, my supervisor did not want me to do those changes with alacrity. Because of that I had to wait two more months before I present my master thesis. Any way it is still good that I have the rights to decry my supervisor and my own work. By the way, my academic supervisor was Gustaf Juell-Skielse from KTH and he is a very experienced Accenture consultant. I have learned a lot from him and he has incisive comments which make me work harder and harder. But my recommendation for those of you, who will write master thesis, is that; talk to your supervisor very very clearly at the beginning. What he/she wants you to do, how much and how does he/she want you to write and so on. Because time management is difficult and you might waste your time if your supervisor changes his/her mind.

However, it was a priceless experience to work in one of the biggest energy companies at Europe and has an experienced academic supervisor back at school. Even if I had some difficult times to finish my thesis, I liked it and enjoyed a lot. In case you need, I am sharing my final master thesis (believe me, this is the real final version:) ) and my final presentation down here:

SAP Systems Integration Master Thesis Real Final Version

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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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I finally finished my master thesis and wrote my final report. Originally it was 100 pages and now I am trying to cut it down to 35-40 pages. As a summary my final thought about SAP PI are that;

It is crucial to understand the companies’ application landscape and then make a final decision to go for one integration platform. Because in fact, it is really difficult to say PI is definitely better than BizTalk or vice versa. Giving an example, many large SAP customers already selected an integration platform. But, they also know that PI (XI) is required component of some SAP modules. Therefore they try to understand the product and decide how much they are going to use it. As far as seen on the market, they are introducing SAP PI along with their established integration platform, mostly to support SAP-to-SAP integration scenarios. Where this looks like an advantage, most of the other companies do not want to deal with two different integration platforms. In this case, if a company wants to adopt their integration platform strategy with SAP, gradually moving to SAP PI is the best way to go for by 2009. Because, as a result of the research, SAP NetWeaver PI will have a revolutionary change and this might cause serious problems for old PI investments. In addition to this, it is for sure that replacing all BizTalks with PI is not really a strong business case, because PI is still not a perfect product and needs a bit more real life experience.

After 4 months of research about SAP NetWeaver PI, the researcher makes two predictions about future of SAP PI;

1- PI will be 100% Java based product. It means, SAP will re-write the ABAP part or make an OEM agreement to replace ABAP with an already available solution in the market.
2- Currently, PI is based on hub and spoke, centralized architecture. First development of XI (PI) started as a part of MySAP technology but right now SAP has NetWeaver which is more distributed, SOA oriented base technology. So, XI is not a perfect match since it does not support distributed architecture. Because of SAP’s eSOA strategy they need to make integration based on more distributed architecture. By doing that they can dramatically reduce the total cost of owner ship and increase availability and performance. So, this will also cause a major change on product.

These changes can be done in two ways;
1- SAP will outsource PI to some other middleware company but will continue to development of this product. Because they already sold PI or XI to 50% of their large SAP users and they cannot suddenly stop supporting the product. Also, PI is playing a centric role for SAP’s ESOA strategy. So that, if SAP wants to be successful on this, they have to pay more attention to integration since this is one of the most crucial part of ESOA mentality.
2- SAP will buy another middleware company or make an OEM agreement to add their solution to PI in order to make it 100% Java based and distributed architecture based more open product.

So, it is important to keep all these in mind before making a buying decision. As mentioned before, a radical architectural change on PI, rather than an incremental evaluation, is expected. In order to mitigate the risks, it is recommended to be careful where companies use PI right now. For the time being, it is recommended to use PI within SAP landscape and for opportunistic applications, which means not mission critical projects. Also, make a good calculation about ROI. If it is 10 years, changing already established integration platform to PI is not recommended.

To sum up, both integration solutions have bad news – good news situation. As PI adoption grows, SAP will invest more into this technology. But if they want to penetrate into the main market, they have to enrich the functionality of their solution against competing integration platforms. Because current picture clearly shows that PI is dominantly used only by SAP customers. While this can be seen as a success, there are still lots of miles to go for SAP. Both integrated middleware approach (SAP PI) and best of breed approach (SAP PI + MS BizTalk) has pros and cons. So, it is up to company to decide which way to go. As mentioned earlier; unlike “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” there is not a “final answer” to this ongoing debate.

You can get my final master thesis report if you send me an email from: SAP Systems Integration Master Thesis Report

I will be happy to hear your comments.

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I am working towards my master degree thesis about SAP systems integration and at some point I needed to learn the easiest way to explain what is SAP NetWeaver and what is the systems integration. While looking for some boring PDFs I have found this video, which is much more fun to learn from, and wanted to share it with you. Enjoy !

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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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I know that it is really difficult to calculate the TCO before using an integration platform. But still we can make some calculations based on the price strategy given from SAP and Microsoft.

Licenses fees are varying from vendor to vendor. For example, pricing of BizTalk Server is done by an Enterprise Agreement (EA). An EA typically runs for 3 years, and when you buy products in an EA, you also buy Software Assurance (SA), a yearly fee that amongst other secure access to all new versions of the product that are released during the agreement period. There are also a lot of other benefits included in SA, like support incidents and vouchers for training. Typically the yearly SA cost is 25% of the license price (L). (more…)

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Adoption of SAP PI platform is growing rapidly, primarily for SAP’s application customer base. However, despite SAP’s crucial improvements, PI is still lacking of most-advanced platforms’ abilities. But it will still be used commonly by SAP base customers.

Graph below, shows the roadmap of SAP PI starting from SAP XI versions. From my point of view, there are 3 major versions of product. Phase 1 is SAP XI 2.0 and SAP XI 3.0, phase 2 is SAP PI 7.0 and phase 3 is SAP PI 7.1. SAP invested a lot of engineering hours for PI and tried to provide the most up to date features in it. But, like all the products in integration platforms market, PI has some pros and cons.

PI_ProductVersions

Graph 1: SAP PI product versions

In particular, SAP PI is proven as SAP oriented product and is widely used by SAP customers. According to a statistic from SAP, only 5% of the PI or XI users are non-SAP customers. So, it clearly shows that PI is very SAP centric product and fits better to SAP product portfolio.

On the other hand, well known vendors like IBM, Microsoft, Tibco, Sun Microsystems are functionally richer than SAP PI because they focus not only to SAP but also to other application packages. For example they provide much complex event processing, business activity monitoring and other advanced integration features. However, PI is highly optimized for SAP systems and provide much more pre-built integration metadata and it is more similar to SAP systems.

SAP PI license for SAP-to-SAP usage is included in NetWeaver 2004 suite license and MySAP license. For SAP to Non-SAP integration PI base engine is priced based on the overall processed message volume expressed in Gigabytes (GB) per month. For some large SAP customers, special discounts are available and price mentality of SAP is “more you use less you pay” (we can also call it progressive scale).

To match PI with Microsoft BizTalk technology, please refer to the graph 2 below.

functional_covarage_SAP_Mic

Graph 2: SAP PI and BizTalk Functional Coverage

You can download the full version of research paper from here: High Level Comparison of SAP PI and MS BizTalk

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