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SAP CPI: The smart cloud middleware

With Cloud Platform Integration (SAP CPI), SAP provides middleware for integrating business applications on a common platform. This makes sense, but is not suitable for every SAP customer.
Andreas Scherf, Snap Consulting
July 16, 2020
Content:
Cloud Computing
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This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

Cloud-based services are a matter of course today. Most companies use them in parallel with their tried-and-tested on-premises systems and thus benefit from a low TCO (total cost of ownership).

The disadvantage of such hybrids is that they create organic IT landscapes consisting of a wide variety of applications and services. Attempts to merge the two worlds on one's own often end before they have even begun - for example, because the security manager does not allow incoming communications from the cloud into his on-premises universe.

SAP Cloud Platform Integration, which was launched in 2017, can couple these two worlds and, in addition, classic middleware features such as mapping, message routing, central monitoring and technical adaptors can be used with it.

A wide variety of integration scenarios - especially Cloud-2-Cloud and hybrids - can be centrally managed, operated and "monitored" with SAP CPI. The result: more transparency and efficiency in the operation of hybrid IT landscapes.

In addition to the development platform and a runtime environment, SAP's smart "cloud middleware" offers a large number of ready-made integration packages. This "Integration Content" can be used to implement solutions such as the "ELSTER" interface to the German tax office or legally compliant invoice transfers in different countries.

Process integration is supported by powerful data integration. It can couple - in real time - open file formats, web standards and third-party systems with SAP CPI.

This means that new integration scenarios can be implemented quickly, enabling companies to respond rapidly to changes in the market - and at lower development costs.

The majority of SAP customers with a traditional on-premises landscape currently integrate non-SAP systems using SAP middleware PI (Process Integration) or its functionally enhanced successor PO (Process Orchestration).

The data to be exchanged is "correctly converted" using a large number of different adaptors and mapping technologies in order to seamlessly integrate a wide variety of SAP and non-SAP systems, applications, and services. It is becoming apparent that PI/PO will be replaced in the medium term by the cloud-based SAP CPI as SAP's own "middleware to go" solution.

Helpful drivers here are often legal requirements: Changes in the legal framework result in adaptations that - unfortunately - are only available in the new product. In this way, SAP is driving digitization at the expense of older systems.

Open questions

With SAP CPI, the costs for a "data hub" are reduced. Compared to a middleware on-premises with large infrastructure effort and high operating costs, the CPI as a cloud variant of a middleware is almost a bargain.

Instead, other questions arise - about availability, service levels and control over the systems. In addition, it is not clear who owns software developed on the platform. Since SAP is presumably just as convinced as its customers that it owns the "intellectual property," this topic is likely to become even more exciting in the future.

And finally, not every customer is yet suitable for SAP CPI. At present, its use only makes sense if a cloud application is involved on at least one side - ideally together with existing, usable integration content.

What applies to all IT projects also applies to SAP's cloud middleware: Migration to or introduction of cloud-based middleware requires professional support so that challenges and problems can be identified and solved at an early stage.

https://e3mag.com/partners/snap_consulting/
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Andreas Scherf, Snap Consulting

Andreas Scherf is a team leader at Snap Consulting.


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