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I am very often asked by our customers how best to align and leverage the use of SAP PI and MII in a landscape to deliver the best possible solution to the business.  From here the response is typically, what are you trying to achieve but in the below I am going to attempt to outline the two products in terms that will hopefully apply to you (Critical feedback is appreciated as this will only make this post better for everyone).  While from a very high-level the two products appear to support the same or similar integration scenarios they in fact are designed with specific use-cases in mind.

SAP PI and MII

Simple Statements on position and product focus

SAP PI is...

  • an A2A and B2B connector framework to integrate various kinds of enterprise systems and applications
  • a Business process engine to support state-full, long running business processes (Process Orchestration)
  • an integration tool that does not support a manufacturing end-user focused UI engine to integrate manufacturing people with processes
  • the SAP solution for enterprise application integration
  • capable of working with SAP MII in a decentralized and asynchronous/synchronous Manufacturing environment for QoS Messaging (EO & EOIO)
  • from an architectural point of view, a separate system, whose functionality are deployed in a complementary way, meaning:
    1. SAP PI as central instance in data processing service center
    2. SAP MII as separate deployment instance, often at the manufacturing site, with PI client capabilities, including local queues to withstand network and system outages and bandwidth constraints

Positioning of the two products in your landscape

When positioning MII & PI in your integration landscape there are a couple of points to take into consideration:

  1. SAP MII focuses on the integration of disparate manufacturing systems to provide a common interface for both users and technical systems, agnostic of the underlying systems and their technical nuances
  2. SAP Process Integrator focuses on the integration of enterprise level business systems and provides robust business to business interfaces
  3. SAP ERP can pass messages to PI which can providing routing and QoS messaging capabilities to multiple remote MII instances simultaneously
  4. This is done asynchronously using an HTTP Endpoint in PI and the MII Messaging Services
  5. SAP MII can generically handle XML messages from PI and process them upon arrival or queue them for batch processing
  6. SAP PI supports global data needs and MII supports local data needs.  “Let the enterprise worry about enterprise issues and plants worry about plant issues”
  7. SAP MII has special functionality for communicating with PI to leverage its Message QoS and Routing capabilities for the delivery of messages to Enterprise systems
  8. Supports limited survivability scenarios where local data collection is required
  9. SAP MII enables limited survivability when plants are disconnected from the enterprise

Top Technical Features of PI & MII

What do you get from SAP PI?

  • EAI Platform
    • Enterprise Messaging
  • Centralized configuration, tracing, monitoring, and maintenance of messages across sites and between systems
    • Guaranteed Delivery and Store Forward
  • Enterprise Service Repository
  • State-full Workflow for Process Orchestration
  • BPM Tools
  • Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) functionality
  • Asynchronous Communication

What do you get from SAP MII?

  • Composition Environment, including GUI tools specifically designed for plant use cases, to develop applications for manufacturing
  • Store Forward when connection down
    • Manufacturing Systems Connectivity
    • EAI/EOM enabler for the plant
    • Enterprise message client for PI
  • Supports using PI queues for Quality of Service (QoS supports both EO & EOIO)
  • Easy to use tools to take data from plant systems and populate message templates for message consumption by enterprise applications
  • Largely synchronous communication
  • Rich analytic capabilities
  • Lean and graphical service-enabled composition environment (Codeless)
    • Service enablement of the shop floor
    • Simple data aggregation and transformation tools

When should you use SAP PI?

  1. You wish to use Process Integration as the SOA backbone in your Enterprise
  2. To Establish ES Repository as the central SOA repository in customer landscapes
  3. To Leverage support of additional WS standards such as UDDI, WS-BPEL and tasks, WS-RM across the enterprise landscape
  4. Enable high-volume and mission-critical integration scenarios between business applications
  5. Benefit from new functionality, such as principal propagation, XML validation, and BAM capabilities

When should you use SAP MII?

  1. You have a heterogeneous set of plant data stores that you want to organize and analyze
  2. You want to get consistent manufacturing operations reporting across sites
  3. You need to drill down into plant data stores and across different data stores for manufacturing intelligence applications
  4. You wish to connect proprietary plant applications to ERP data and work processes – through standard and native out of the box connectors and tools
  5. You need to enable plant personnel to be able to perform reporting (Standard, Mobile, and Ad-Hoc) along with basic execution

PROs and CONs of ERP Integration with and without PI and MII

This section will outline the various scenarios of including and excluding PI and MII from various scenarios in the manufacturing/industrial space.

Messages flow between ERP, PI, and then to multiple Plant systems (Without MII)

  • Message routing and transformation is defined per site in PI (Plants are similar but each has nuance differences that need to be accounted for)
    • Very often this can limit plant autonomy in what they can change
  • Message processing can vary from each of the 3rd Party Solutions, no consistency
  • Customized integration to 3rd Party Solutions are not supported by SAP
  • 3rd Party Solution probably requires customization to handle messages, even ISA standard messages are customized to fit actual business requirements
  • 3rd Party Solutions probably vary from site to site and requires customization support either in PI or in the 3rd Party Solution
  • 3rd Party Solution probably does not support central governance and management of content

Messages flow between ERP, PI, and then to multiple Plant systems (With MII)

Asynchronous Messaging with SAP PI & MII (MII screens can still perform synchronous BAPI/RFC calls directly to SAP ERP when required)

  • Messages flow between SAP ERP, SAP PI, and then to multiple SAP MII instances
  • Message routing is defined in SAP PI and message processing rules are defined in SAP MII
  • Some sites require different rules than others, conglomeration of plant systems
  • SAP MII absolves the central systems from having to know about site variances with applications and technical systems
  • Everything “appears” the same to the enterprise so communication is consistent and easy to maintain
  • Disconnected plant operation for support of local data collection and central business rules
  • Central governance and management of software and content

Messages flow between ERP, and then to multiple MII instances (without SAP PI)

Messages flow between ERP and directly to multiple MII instances

  • Message routing is custom defined in ERP via destinations and partner profiles
  • MII absolves the ERP system from having to know about site variances or delivery to multiple site systems simultaneously
    • Everything “appears” the same to the enterprise so communication is consistent
  • Disconnected plant operation for support of local data collection and central business rules

Conclusion

Based on the above I hope that it is now clear how both PI and MII play together in a manufacturing/industrial landscape for supporting operations visibility and reporting at the local, regional, and central levels.  This document (although a bit older now) may also help to shed some light on typical implementation architectures and additional points to consider:

SAP Manufacturing Implementation Architecture: The purpose of this document is to explain the standard implementation practices for Manufacturing Integration & Intelligence, Manufacturing Execution, and Plant Connectivity. The specific focus is around why and how to use the various products provided by SAP and the technical & business features of how they co-exist with each other in your landscape for maximum ROI.

Once again your candid feedback is appreciated.

Sam

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