webMethods SAP Integration for ERP
Oct 17, 2013 23:20 2 Comments Architecture/Design Pia

1 Requirements

In future our Integration Platform(IP) will need to facilitate communication of legacy application with our ERP environment. Communication with ERP is proposed to go through SAP Process Integration (PI). This document details various options for this communication.

  • Do we need EntireX to talk to SAP PI?
  • What additional components do SAP need to install on their side of the fence?
  • Are there standard adapters we can use on the IP side of the fence?
  • Any other infrastructure tidbits we might need to know about in order to establish connectivity with SAP PI
  • How to ensure working with different SAP versions?

 

2 SAP PI Overview

SAP PI is SAP's EAI software. It provides adapters to communicate with external systems (e.g. Web service, JMS, FTP, ...), can communicate with SAP ERP systems, and provides functionality to implement mapping logic. SAP PI sits on top of SAP Web Application Server.

SAP PI consists of two components: the SAP PI Integration Server that interacts with the SAP Enterprise Core Components and the SAP PI Adapter Engine that provides the ability to interact with other systems via adapters. SAP PI includes a number of adapters to interact for example via HTTP, Web service, JMS, or FTP. Additional adapters may be purchased from 3rd party vendors.

 

3 Connectivity Options

3.1 Direct Integration of ERP and IP

The webMethods SAP adapter is used together with a dedicated webMethods Integration Server instance to provide integration between ERP and the IP. The dedicated webMethods Integration Server allows a decoupling between the Integration Backbone and the SAP integration.

Benefits:

  • Fewer different components to manage
  • Proven approach used by numerous customers
  • DHL operations familiar with the management of webMethods IS
  • Promises best performance
  • Asynchronous & synchronous communication possible

Drawbacks:

  • Requires additional webMethods knowledge in ERP

3.2 Communication via PI using the XI adapter

webMethods provides an adapter to interact with SAP PI directly. This adapter exists since the XI days and remains unchanged for interaction with SAP PI. A dedicated webMethods IS is only used for connectivity, all mapping & transformation already done on the Integration Backbone.

Benefits:

  • Skips the external SAP PI Adapter Engine => better performance than JMS or Web services that used the Adapter Engine
  • Asynchronous & synchronous communication possible

Drawbacks:

  • XI adapter is an older product that has seen limited usage (officially supported on webMethods 8.x)
  • Requires servers for PI and dedicated webMethods Integration Server => increased management efforts

3.3 Communication via PI using Web services

SAP PI provides a Web services adapter to call and offer Web services. This functionality can be used in conjunction with the built-in Web service functionality of webMethods to integrate ERP and the IP.

Benefits:

  • Standards-based communication
  • Web services to be offered and called directly from the Integration Backbone integration layer

Drawbacks:

  • Most likely the slowest approach
  • Possibility of incompatibilities in the respective Web service stacks of SAP PI and webMethods
  • Asynchronous communication not intuitive

3.4 Communication via PI using JMS

SAP PI provides a JMS adapter to call and offer Web services. This functionality can be used in conjunction with the built-in JMS functionality of webMethods to integrate ERP and the IP. SAP PI includes its own JMS provider but the usage of webMethods Broker is recommended.

Benefits:

  • Standards-based communication
  • JMS is the standard communication in the Integration Backbone

Drawbacks:

  • Should be faster than Web services but slower than the other two options
  • JMS configuration on SAP PI Adapter Engine non-trivial (especially as features like authentication and encryption are to be used)
  • Synchronous communication possible but not very intuitive

3.5 Ignored Options

The following options have been discounted and not researched in detail:

  • File, FTP via PI: not desired for new interfaces
  • HTTP: less strict than SOAP, might introduce manageability issues
  • RFC-based communication via PI: no benefits over RFC-based direct communication
  • XI-based communication with SAP EC component

 

Recommendation

A direct integration using the webMethods SAP adapter is the preferred approach. It simplifies the overall system landscape as only one EAI platform is running and also ensures better performance as fewer components are involved. The only downside is that it requires some webMethods knowledge on the ERP side to offer the necessary functionality via SAP adapter and webMethods Integration Server.

If the use of SAP PI is mandated, the JMS based integration is the best choice.

 

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