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Former Member

It's no secret anymore that SAP is transforming into a Cloud company. Complete solutions are, with or without acquisitions, redesigned for the cloud. Concrete examples are Human Resources (SAP ERP HCM to SuccessFactors), Sales (Business Suite CRM for Sales OnDemand) or purchase (SAP SRM to Ariba)

This results into new system landscape that requires a different approach towards integration. Traditional products from the SAP NetWeaver Suite are therefore systematically supplemented with new cloud components within SAP HANA Cloud. The illustration below shows this. (note: please replace SAP NetWeaver Cloud by SAP HANA Cloud as this is new marketing name)

The latest component in the family is SAP HANA Cloud Integration. During an infoday at SAP HQ in Walldorf me, and my colleque fonsvannuland, got insight into this new product. We would like to share our insights with you in this blog.

Insight 1: Completely new product.

SAP HANA Cloud Integration (also called HCI) is a newly developed product. It is not the next release of SAP NetWeaver PI neither a hosted version of PI in the cloud. The entire design time and runtime environment are rebuilt. This allows SAP to offer a real multitennancy environment. Even during upgrades it promises 100% availability. SAP HCI is completely cloud based and scalable if more capacity is required. Currently, its using the Sybase database but in the future, you can also choose the HANA in-memory technology. Development and configuration is now partly through Eclipse but a fully WebUI is planned. No more local facilities, only a browser for access.

Insight 2: (restricted) reuse of existing content.

Although the design time is new it will look familiar to existing SAP NetWeaver PI expert. Developing the integrations flow is largely similar. SAP promises that existing NetWeaver PI integration objects can be reused. It does not concern the complete flows but parts like mappings and service definitions. Not ideal but since a lot of the business logic is fixed here it is at least better than nothing.

Insight 3: Integration of SAP portfolio first.

As indicated in the introduction, the SAP portfolio has become a reasonable hybrid amalgamation of OnPremise and OnDemand solutions. Customers however expect solid integration between these components. This is therefore the first focus of SAP. The scenarios that are currently supported:

  • Sales OnDemand - SAP Business Suite CRM OnPremise
  • SuccessFactors BizX OnDemand - SAP HCM OnPremise
  • SuccessFactors Employee Central OnDemand - SAP ECC Premise
  • SAP OnDemand to Banks via OnDemand SAP Financial Service Network

These will be further expanded. In the autumn a software development kit will become available to customers and partners. The Eco system will need to help SAP to get more standard content available. By then SAP HCI will also be more positioned for integration of non SAP cloud solutions like e.g. Salesforce.

Insight 4: SAP to take active part in implementation and management.

With SAP NetWeaver PI SAP only provides you the software. With the support of an implementation partner organisation needs to, install, deploy and manage the environment. SAP plays no active role in this process beside providing support.

With HCI this is changing. SAP has the software already installed in its own data centers and customers just start using it. They have to connect their OnPremise or OnDemand systems. If a systems differ from the standard SAP configuration adjustments will be necessary to the standard integration scenarios within HCI. SAP takes care of this will make these adjustments for you. By doing so, they actively take responsibility for the proper functioning of the integration scenario. It's unclear if traditional systems integrators will be able to do this as well in the future.  Same counts for technical management and upgrades. All are solely provided by SAP.

Insight 5: Roadmap provides insight into development.

In each roadmap we want to find the answers to two important elements.

  • Which functionality will be added in the future
  • What standard content will become available.

SAP is trying to accelerate the second element as indicated in the previous insight. As an organization, you will thus always the need to weigh up whether you are going to build or wait for standard content ourselves. Experience has shown that it will be a combination.

Although HCI, for a first release, covers all the basic functionality, there are still several elements that are missing. Most important are: comprehensive monitoring, adapters, System Landscape Directory, comprehensive service repository, BPM and integration with UI through Gateway. In addition, we would like to see a better decoupling between design time and runtime configuration. This will simplify the management of a development, test and production environment.

The good news is that these elements are recognized. SAP can not yet specify exactly when that comes available.

Conclusion and open ends

With the introduction of SAP HANA Cloud Integration, SAP again is making clear that it's taking cloud computing very seriously. The product can, in its first release, cover basic integration scenarios with focus on OnPremise - OnDemand scenarios. Although there are more mature alternatives in the market, SAP is playing catch-up. In the future we foresee that HCI will overtake current SAP NetWeaver PI positioning, if not replace it entirely.

Regardless of the pricing model the uncertainty still lies in the relationship between all SAP HANA cloud components. There are many separate developments under the umbrella of SAP HANA Cloud. (like SaaS, PaaS, Mobile as a Service, Cloud portal and now HCI.) Somehow, all components needs to come together in an integrated, cloud-based platform. We like to see more clearly the SAP how they will shape it.

Also take a look at SapphireNow presentation on HCI

Looking forward to your insights and thoughts on SAP HANA Cloud Integration.

@pimdewit and @fons_van_nuland

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