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Switching magically between worlds

Have you ever read books with different “worlds” or frequent “time warps” between past/future and present? E.g. Harry Potter, approaching the Hogwarts Express via London King Cross Train Station to get over to the world of wizards. Or Connor McLeod travelling through the centuries and fighting back the baddies in seamless cuts between the Highlands and New York.


The creativity of a seamless flow of scenes and the logic of mechanisms to transit from one world to the other is a fundamental success factor for this kind of books or movies. We as readers are drawn into the storyline when the transition logic works well and gates to the future or past are built into the real world via everyday objects.

This analogy often comes to mind when I talk to customers about the Cloud. Here the expectation is that there will be a seamless flow between cloud applications and on-premise or 3rd party cloud.

Integration & Interoperability is the #2  Cloud-related Pain Point (following #1  Security), as stated in many research articles, e.g. this one recently published in Forbes about Predicting Enterprise Cloud Computing.

Integration & Interoperability is a valid concern:

  1. Experience: We are in the first 3 miles of a marathon in cloud computing. There are not many companies in the market who can show successful integration projects on large scale.
  2. Business Understanding: The early cloud entrepreneurs have been and are still pure cloud vendors. They reflect neither the Customer´s On-Premise history nor the need to safeguard existing investments – they prefer a “Rip and Replace” strategy over Integration.
  3. Single hand-to-shake: Very few vendors deliver cloud (SaaS) solutions + integration tools + integration content + extensibility platform (PaaS) as a unified solution. (SAP is an exception)

Why Integration & Interoperability matters

Companies need to avoid information islands and fragmented processes in cloud solutions. Moving into the cloud by losing Enterprise Context is not an option. Integration across solution boundaries is a must to prevent application silos. It requires a strategy that encompasses cloud as well as other (e.g. on premise) solutions. The market is reacting to this as a recent survey shows (Wakefield research) that most CIO´s (67 percent) using cloud applications have already adopted some hybrid (interoperating cloud and on-premise) tools.

  • Business Users Perspective

Why should I as a Business User care about Interoperability/Integration? Isn´t that another boring technology discussion?

Single source of truth, accurate data - I can rely on what I see, better meetings talking about facts and real time measurements instead of doubts on data reliability. So it is faster Insights and better decisions...this is what Business People want and need to achieve.

  • IT perspective

A large enterprise runs on average between 1.000 and 2.000 applications. Some of the applications will go into the cloud, some might be already there and some may never be migrated. Enterprises adopt SaaS today primarily for commoditized processes, for example CRM (Lead2Opportunity – but not Opportunity2Cash), Procurement and HCM (Full HCM Suite). Companies do not differentiate with these processes against their competition and see a value in standardization and best Practice sharing. But IT needs to manage governance and control for all of them regarding:

      • Data Security, Privacy  and Compliance
      • Support of complex landscapes
      • Control of data flows
      • Processes working end-to-end
      • Choice of integration technology
      • End-to-end  monitoring and Support

What does it require to interoperate cloud solutions?

2 things are important to separate:

  • Cloud Onboarding  - One time initial data load from existing systems to the cloud solution
  • Cloud Interoperability - follows On-boarding with continuous delta handling to keep Data synchronized and Processes integer between OnPremise2Cloud or Cloud2Cloud.

Needless to say that interoperability is superior to the traditional “rip-and-replace” or “stitch-together-with-other-middle ware” approach of many of the pure cloud vendors.

Here is what you should be looking at if you don’t want to fail

  • Point-to-Point integration for simpler and highly standardized integration scenarios.
  • Integration services that connect systems with prepackaged integration content in a pure cloud deployment
  • Option to leverage of existing infrastructure: On-Premise technology and Data Services with prepackaged integration content for OnPremise2Cloud via pre-packaged and rapid-deployment solutions
  • Open for re-use of 3rd party integration providers via a partnership for specific Integration scenarios
  • Option to use further third-party integration platforms using our Open certification program being gradually rolled out

Is your cloud vendor considering all of the above? No? Then run away, fast.

Customer Examples...

So far the theory. But how does it work in real Life? Let´s look at two of our hundreds of customers that are already interoperating with our cloud solutions.

SAP Cloud for Customer – A large Industrial manufacturer with multiple subsidiaries on different SAP ERP clients. In addition third-party ERP installations had to be integrated into the flows. The challenge has been a very tight time frame to achieve a rapid implementation with a small team to integrate accounts, materials, sales quotes and sales orders.

SAP Cloud for People – A large manufacturing company with SAP ERP, multiple legacy HR and financial applications worldwide. Goal was a migration from the existing legacy HR system.

      • 120+ third-party interfaces – Integration of third-party cloud solutions
        to SAP Employee Central (EC) and EC Payroll
      • 100% of SAP-to-SAP integration and 30% of total number of required integration covered by prepackaged integration (iFlows)

A lot of lessons were learned with each implementation, but this co-innovation approach is important. This is why some SAP Cloud releases are up to 80% based on customer feedback – we learn together. And we learn fast.

The SAP cloud portfolio has been designed to serve the hybrid cloud reality. We bring SaaS, integration tools and integration content together to ensure Interoperability for our Customers.  At the same time it delivers on Line of Business AND IT expectations to make them operate together in the cloud.

Focus on Interoperability and business will meet its goals. For further information download our eBook for details.

This brings us back to Highlander´s final closing song by Queen “A kind of magic?” Cloud Integartion & Interoperability may sound like magic … but it´s simply a continuation of four decades of co-innovation between SAP and its leading Enterprise Business Software customers.

Let us know what you think.

Bert Schulze (@BeSchulze ) and Sven Denecken (@SDenecken)


Read other relevant blogs:

- Hybrid cloud

- Cloud Extension program

- Public, Private or Hybrid? What are your cloud choices

- The 1-2-3 of Cloud security