Cloud integration can be a difficult task, even as innovations make the fundamentals easier. Advances in Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and open standards have streamlined integration and removed many of the costly, time-consuming elements the process used to require. At the same time, the introduction of cloud computing and shifting modes of doing business add back complexity and challenges to integration. SAP HANA Cloud Integration (HCI) stands astride these divergent forces. It offers SAP system owners a way to make the most of the cloud while simplifying SAP integration.
What is SAP HANA Cloud Integration (HCI)?
SAP HANA Cloud Integration comprises design-time and runtime environments for integration spanning on-premises SAP landscapes and SAP in the cloud, as well as other types of software. It’s built with open source technologies. The design-time environment is based on the Eclipse Integrated Development Environment (IDE). It enables an integration developer to construct integration flows by configuring, defining and monitoring their creations.
The HCI runtime, hosted on SAP HANA Cloud, makes integration possible using most of the common integration/messaging protocols. It handles message processing, transformation and routing for SSH File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) and the SAP “Intermediate Document” IDOC format, which is used in Electronic Data Interchange (EDI).
Other protocols include the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), which forms the basis of many modern application integration projects and Service-Oriented Architectures (SOA). HCI runtime also works with HTTP, SuccessFactors, which is used in HR and Open Data Protocol (OData). OData is used with RESTful APIs, which have become the de facto standard in modern application integrations.
According to SAP, HCI includes a web user interface (UI) that serves the needs of the typical, varied group of stakeholders involved in an integration project. These include the content author, who has system knowledge and is responsible for creating an integration flow based on a particular business use case. The Line of Business (LOB) stakeholder needs the UI to help him or her review the different integration scenarios and flows to decides which best fit with the use case. Integration developers need the UI to configure the integration flow and put it into production on the runtime environment. Then, there are admins who have to monitor the state of the integration flow and the messages they process.
SAP HCI Architecture
HCI interacts with the local SAP, on-premises landscape by way of the SAP Data Services Agent as well as through HTTPS and RFC connections. The data flows required for cloud integration comprise both data and metadata, as shown in the figure. The reference architecture shows the placement and composition of the various elements involved. HCI contains a web interface that connects with the browser on the on-premises side. HCI’s agent manager HANA loader/reader links to SAP on-premises data. HCI, in turn, connects with SAP HANA database repositories in the cloud as well as with HANA cloud applications.
SAP CPI vs HCI
SAP tends to throw a lot of acronyms our way, and this is definitely the case with cloud integration. In addition to HCI, we also have what’s known as SAP Cloud Platform Integration, or CPI. CPI lets you connect cloud-based applications with other applications, both SAP and non-SAP. It spans cloud and on-premises apps. It connects processes, data, or both, in app-to-app (A2A) and business-to-business use cases.
CPI has functionality that lets you build extensions of preset SAP integrations to meet your custom requirements. You can take advantage of CPI’s adapter Software Development Kit (SDK) to create custom adapters for more extensive connectivity use cases. CPI allows for customized access to SAP Cloud through its public APIs for OData. From a business process perspective, CPI gives you the option of orchestrating process and integrating data in real time or on an asynchronous basis.
Then, there’s HANA Smart Data Integration, or SDI. HANA SDI is the data integration part of the broader HCI picture. It’s optional, but it helps you if you need services like data replication, ETL and virtual data. It comprises other SAP data provisioning tools, e.g. SAP Landscape Transformation (SLT), SAP Data Services, SAP Replication Server and Data Provisioning Agent.
SAP HANA Cloud Integration Training
SAP, as well as many partner firms, are now offering extensive training resources for SAP HCI. To get the most out of HCI courses, students are usually expected to have basic knowledge in XML, Eclipse and SAP NetWeaver PI. A strong command of SAP applications overall is also a good prerequisite. Otherwise, the student may not be able to get the most out of the relatively advanced HCI material.
Courses vary greatly in terms of depth and content specifics, of course, but a number of themes and subjects are common. There are basic introductions to HCI as well as hands-on training for the different HCI tools. Some courses delve deeply into adapters, such as those for SOAP and SFTP. Other courses cover integration with prepackaged software and the Web UI.
Courses may focus on managing data in an HCI context. For example, a course might give students detailed hands-on experience with ETL, moving data between on-premises systems and the cloud and so forth. The same course might describe how to create datastores, how to clean up and sequence data loads and how use standard templates to integrate data.
Other HCI training is more developer-oriented. Such courses delve into the developer space for HCI and iFlow creation. They will also usually discuss testing of HCI development. Security may be included in the curriculum as well.
We can help you navigate your training options for HCI and advise you on the best approaches to adopting HCI in your SAP landscape. To learn more about our service offerings in this area, contact us today.