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Streamlining and simplifying B2B integration for enhanced interoperability

The new Integration Advisor @ SAP HANA Cloud Integration (HCI)

Executive Summary

The new Integration Advisor is an embedded tool in SAP HCI (HANA Cloud Integration) that will significantly simplify and improve the whole end-to-end flow of a B2B integration process. The cost drivers of today's B2B integration project are the gaps between: specification of implementation guidelines, business partner's interface requirements, mapping, implementation and testing. Integration Advisor closes these gaps by new, innovative approaches to every aspect of the design and testing process. It enables the common understanding between all involved parties who are involved in the B2B integration process.  Integration Advisor provides intelligent creation, proposal and analytics features for leveraging a streamlined process from specification to testing of interfaces and mappings required for a B2B transaction process. Integration Advisor is a cloud based solution in which a business domain expert and his business partners collaborate to easily describe the business requirements of B2B interfaces, and map and test them. The focus on readability of interfaces and mapping, the support of collaborative work and the closed loop approach will

  • radically reduce  total integration efforts,
  • considerably improve transparency and flexibility, and
  • dramatically reduce error rates.

Integration Advisor opens up completely new dimensions in B2B integration; giving completely new opportunities in extending your business network. The following article describes how this will be enabled by the Integration Advisor.

Legal Disclaimer

This document, or any related article and SAP's strategy and possible future developments, products and or platforms directions and functionality are all subject to change and may be changed by SAP at any time for any reason without notice. The information in this document is not a commitment, promise or legal obligation to deliver any material, code or functionality. This document is provided without a warranty of any kind, either express or implied, including but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, or non-infringement. This document is for informational purposes and may not be incorporated into a contract. SAP assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions in this document, except if such damages were caused by SAP´s willful misconduct or gross negligence.

All forward-looking statements are subject to various risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from expectations. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of their dates, and they should not be relied upon in making purchasing decisions.

Table of Content

Introduction

Despite significant advances in enterprise systems, the process of B2B integration remains a time consuming and error-prone activity. This resource intensive environment is currently driven by heterogeneous landscapes with a plethora of overly complex and cryptic interfaces; many addressing the same use case(s).


Changing the complexity and cryptic representation of B2B interfaces would require significant investment in the standards development organizations and require buy-in for all existing implementers.  In some cases, that makes sense.  However, in the vast majority of cases, it does not. Fortunately, SAP has created a new cloud based solution capable of deciphering complex B2B interfaces and putting them in simple, easily understandable representations that enables an immediate understanding of how to best shape them to align with your business needs and integrate with your business partner’s interfaces.  This solution eliminates the need for different tools to support the different B2B integration phases such as specification, interface design, mapping, integration and testing.


This new design time solution - Integration Advisor – will be a self-service offering running on SAP HCI (HANA Cloud Integration) which combines all required features for seamlessly executing and rapidly completing even the most complex B2B integration projects from specification through testing. Integration Advisor will simplify, streamline, and improve time to completion for both the business domain experts and integration experts.  It will reduce the level of effort and time to completion required by the business domain expert – who already possesses the enterprise business requirements and business knowledge – through crowd sourcing based intelligence and optimal usability recommendations which present optimized, simplified, focused and easily understandable information. It will reduce the level of effort and time to completion required by the integration expert by divorcing the need to understand the business content and enabling collaborative efforts with both the business expert and the business partner for developing, testing and implementing the targeted B2B interfaces and mapping integration. The Integration Advisor is embedded in SAP HCI (HANA Cloud Integration), but its generated content will be directly consumable by both runtimes, SAP HCI and SAP PO (Process Orchestration).


Through these dynamic process improvements, Integration Advisor will – in conjunction with SAP HCI which will shortly be providing all runtime specific B2B capabilities – significantly reduce the time and effort required for all involved parties, thus enabling the benefits of new B2B interfaces to be realized sooner, and free up resources for use on other business and technical issues the enterprise may have.


The first pilot program will be available in January 2015. The first final release of “Integration Advisor” is scheduled for Q2 2015. Parties interested in participating in the pilot program should contact Gunther Stuhec (gunther.stuhec@sap.com).

Issues in B2B Integration

B2B is generally understood as the electronic exchange of business related documents between the business applications of two or more parties. B2B has been around for as long as business applications have had a need to interoperate.  This traditional interaction is considered by most as a prerequisite for establishing business networks which were predicted to revolutionize business.  However, upon close examination, we see that B2B integration is an integral part of business networks, but the current integration process of B2B connections is too inflexible to meet the dynamically changing business requirements in a typical business network. Why?  There are of course several reasons, but the largest by far is the ongoing difficulty associated with integration between heterogeneous landscapes of business applications.

Integration efforts for exchanging business data remain as inflexible, time consuming, and error prone as ever.  This situation is driven by the plethora of different representations of technically oriented interface structures of business documents supported by ever more complex business processes and their supporting applications.  The current inventory of available B2B standardization efforts, strategies and approaches all lack the ability to enable quick and easy connection between business applications. Every integration projects remains a lengthy, expensive and labor intensive effort that ties up critical resources and invariably misses cost and implementation date targets.

SAP understands the current level of tool support for designing interfaces and mappings bear primary responsibility for this situation. Every available integration solution follows the technically driven me-too approach which relies on the technical experts bearing full responsibility for effecting the required integration regardless of their level of, or the availability of experts on, the business knowledge which plays an integral part of the effort. Figure 1 illustrates a typical technical representation of a mapping between two interfaces that are used in a B2B connection for exchanging “Purchase Order” documents. As you look at the figure, see if you can fully understand what is being exchanged, how it is mapped, and how it relates to your particular business system.

Figure 1: Typical representation of a mapping (Click on figure to enlarge)

If you can full understand the syntax and semantics for every element and the reason for the relationships shown in figure 1, then odds are you are a highly experienced B2B integration expert. However, if you are a typical business expert who wants to build a new B2B connection for electronically exchanging “Purchase Order” documents or even “Payment Transaction” documents between you and your business partner, how do you decipher the information, or better yet – how do you create such an integration mapping from scratch.  If you are the typical business expert, you usually don’t know, or for that matter you don’t need to know, how business data is expressed at a technical level. Trying to create a final mapping such as that shown in figure 1 which has already been tested and deployed, requires a significant level of expertise in both the business and technical aspects necessary to complete the many integration phases required to reach this level of maturity.

End-to-end flow of a typical B2B integration project

Figure 2 represents the phases of a typical end-to-end flow for a B2B integration project. As can be seen, some of the phases are focused on the specification and comparison of the business requirements at a semantic level, while others are focused on technical integration and testing. A careful analysis reveals that the specification phase is fully half of the effort and results in the greatest investment in terms of time and resources. As reported by Gartner, “Only 5% of the interface [between systems] is a function of the middleware choice. The remaining 95% is a function of application semantics.” Why?  Because it is the application semantics aspect that requires in-depth business domain knowledge; knowledge the typical integration expert does not usually possess.

Figure 2: End-2-End flow of a typical B2B integration project (Click on figure to enlarge)

The first step in the process is to describe the business requirements; typically accomplished using word processing tools or spreadsheet application or some other equally cumbersome application. If you and your trading partner have independently pre-identified your own appropriate B2B standard, then the next step is to select the one specific structured message interface from that standard that addresses your business process. However, if you have not yet agreed to a particular standard, you must conduct a survey and analysis of the various B2B standards out there to determine which is appropriate for your process for your industry and those of your trading partner(s).

Once you have selected a standard, the transformation of your requirements into the message interface is not a simple one-to-one copy. Each element in the selected message interface has a specific business meaning.  Those meanings are dependent on both the semantics and the structure of the selected message format. Every B2B message interface follows their own formal but complex and cryptic representation, and each requires a significant level of technical and domain specific expertise in interpreting the syntax and semantics of the interfaces. Next step in the process is to compare your specific business requirements against the standard’s arbitrarily defined requirements and business meanings – deciphered based on both semantics and placement – and identify just those elements that are required. As the possible combinations and permutations in a typical business standard can exceed several million, this comparison and selection process is tedious, time consuming work.

Typically, the selected standard will only address a certain percentage of your requirements, so additional rules and constraints unique to you and your business partner must be specified to obtain 100 percent coverage of just what you want without excess. This requires another document – the Message Implementation Guideline (MIG) – in where just the required elements, their exact semantics, and business oriented rules are detailed. Your business partner should also have a MIG, but typically it is one that has been created as an independent activity, with different expert knowledge, different requirements and quite probably different message interfaces.

Figure 3 shows two different examples of MIGs for “Payment Transactions”. The first MIG is based on the ISO 20022 pain.001.001.03 message type. It describes for example your required elements and rules that are supported by your business application.This MIG is expressed as an Excel spreadsheet and covers the used subset of structure, the tag names, cardinality, base types and many columns with different kind of notes, constraints and implementation instructions. The second MIG is also for a “Payment Transaction”, but the structure is based on SAP IDoc PEXR2001 message type. It may describe your business partner’s required elements and rules and is expressed as a Word document.

Figure 3: Different styles of typical Message Implementation Guidelines (Click on figure to enlarge)

Let’s assume you want to build a B2B connection with your business partner. You ask for their MIG, and you receive the aforementioned word document.  Once you discover the different base standards and mediums of expression, you must do a manual comparison between your and your business partner’s MIGs. This entails discovering the correct matching elements between the disparate MIGs.  Not many MIGs follow a formal and common representation. This MIG may contain different types of content in a spreadsheet with different columns or just as unstructured text blocks in paragraphs, and the hierarchical structure could be represented as a diagram which could be a picture or may follow a tree based representation in the spreadsheet. Therefore, it is nearly not possible to identify the semantic matches between these unstructured MIG documents. After spending considerable time in trying to match you end up with another unstructured document, the Mapping Guideline (MAG) that describes the matches between your MIG and the business partner’s MIG. You will of course be unable to obtain a 100% match as the semantics are different, and in many cases the position and sequencing significantly alter the meaning of the semantics. Your business partner certainly does not use the same sets of elements in precisely the same way with the same business rules, so many of your matches are both incomplete and questionable at best. As a result, you and your business partner enter into manual negotiations in which you clarify the matches and business rules. The result needs several review cycles and all changes have to be covered in the MAG. Note that at every step, you and your business partner have been using and exchanging mixed modes of expression of the information – word documents, spreadsheets, pdf’s and a myriad of other possible modes.

At this point, the process is handed off to a combination of integration experts, integration consultants or service providers to implement your B2B connection.  The integration expert has to build technical interfaces – XSDs or some other syntax expression – and has to manually develop the technical expression of a mapping as defined in the MAG.  The technical expression will be similar to that in Figure 1 and is required so the runtime system can properly process it.  Interestingly, as shown in figure 2, these two phases (Implementation and Deploy) are the least laborious phases and yet they are the only ones currently full supported by today’s integration solutions.

The next major task is testing. A proper test cycle involves both the business expert and the integration expert; as both aspects of the interface must be tested.  Why both parties? Limiting testing to just the integration aspect runs the risk of subsequently executing with mismatched data that can contaminate systems or cause the execution of an undesired process. This however creates yet another issue. Figure 4 shows a payment transaction instance based on SAP IDoc PEXR2001 expressed as a flat syntax representation.  How many business experts are adept at decrypting the content as shown in figure 4?

Figure 4: Example of a B2B instance

The business expert must validate the test results with the requirements as defined in the guidelines (MIGs and MAG).  The business experts of both you and your trading partner will manually compare the generated results in a format similar to Figure 4 with the specified MIG and MAG guidelines similar to those shown in Figure 3. As mentioned above, this is a painstakingly tedious job and exceptionally difficult for the typical business expert given the mixed media involved. Based on the results of the analysis, the business expert must prepare change requests which then have to be submitted to the integration expert for effecting the requisite changes.  This is followed by n number of test run and review cycles until the desired exchange is achieved to the satisfaction of all parties.

Sadly, this core principles of this entire process – from beginning to end – haven’t been changed for more than 30 years. As a result, there is still significant room for simplification and improvement.  The good news is that SAP is working diligently on an end-to-end solution for optimized B2B integration projects driven by Integration Advisor.  Please note that what follows describes all concepts and ideas of the desired end-state of the entire solution. For the first release it is currently planned to provide the basic concepts, which are required for the creation of Message Implementation Guidelines and Mapping Guidelines. All further concepts will be implemented according our production roadmap of “Integration Advisor”[1]. However it is important we present the end-vision so that you, the reader, have a complete understanding of the intended solution.

Integration Advisor – streamlined and simplified B2B integration process

At this point you are no doubt wondering why we have presented such a detailed explanation of the current environment.  The answer is quite simple – There is great news on the horizon that will make today’s painful practices a thing of the past. If you are a business expert with some B2B knowledge, your level of effort and cost savings will be reduced by up to 80%.  Further, you will no longer be under pressure to have the technical knowledge of the integration expert.

How? SAP is automating, streamlining and simplifying the entire end-2-end B2B integration process from requirement phase to productive runtime phase with Integration Advisor (IA)– A new cloud based service, which is embedded in SAP HCI. As shown in Figure 5, Integration Advisor in conjunction with SAP HCI or SAP PO provides a fully integrated solution covering all phases of the B2B integration process, thus eliminating the current need for using different tools from different sources, each with their own mode of expression of the output at the various stages of the process. Integration Advisor uses an intelligent and crowd sourcing based approach coupled with the power of the cloud to provide best fit proposals. Integration Advisor enables cloud based, real-time collaboration, information sharing, and updates between you and your business partners. This new paradigm in B2B is possible through eliminating the mixed modes of output and streamlining and simplifying the entire process from requirements to runtime.

SAP is launching the pilot program in January 2015, so that a number or registered users can test the first implemented concepts which are described at the following chapters.

Figure 5: Streamlined B2B integration process (Click on figure to enlarge)

Identify Requirements

Instead of the old process of having to laboriously write a requirements paper, requirements is a painless step of simply asking Integration Advisor how the business message interface for the process of interest should be. For example, let’s say you want to implement a standardized Payment Transaction between debitor and creditor for the financial industry covering country specific requirements of Germany and France.

In today’s environment you would need to expend considerable effort to search out all existing B2B standard payment transaction message types that would match your required context parameters (set of requirements). With Integration Advisor you simply enter your context parameters as shown in Figure 6.

Figure 6: Template for requesting a new Message structure (Click on figure to enlarge)

As shown in figure 6, it is not necessary to know the B2B standard, the exact name of the B2B standard's message type (called: message template), or even the version of the B2B standard. As mentioned, the focus is on the business semantics and business context. For example, you just know the business context parameters in where you want to use the new message type such as:

  • The countries in where you want to exchange the payment transfer message: France and Germany
  • The roles, which will play a role in the payment transfer: Creditor and Debtor
  • The industry in where you want to use the payment transfer: Banking

As described in next chapter, Integration Advisor will find the most appropriate B2B standard's message type for you.

Getting Proposal

With the click of a button, Integration Advisor displays a result list similar to Figure 7 of the most commonly used templates of B2B standard message types in your required context. This list contains important details of each identified standard message type to include ISO pain.001.001.x, SAP IDoc PEXR2003, and UN/EDIFACT PAYMUL Version D.01B. IA identifies the frequency of use (such as number of existing MIGs that are based on this message type) for each of the identified standard message types to help guide your decision. Notice that the most used B2B standard message types are versions 3 and 4 of the Customer Credit Transfer Initiation (pain.001.001.x) from ISO 20022. Frequency of usage means that 546 Message Implementation Guidelines based on the ISO 20022 message type pain.001.001.03 have been defined by other users of IA with the same business context parameters you defined.

Figure 7: List of proposed templates of message types (Click on figure to enlarge)

Message Implementation Guideline

The next step is to create and finalize the Message Implementation Guideline. Assuming you want to use the most widely used B2B standard message type – pain.001.001.03 – you simply click on the create button.  Integration Advisor then displays the message type as shown in Figure 8.

Figure 8: View of a new MIG proposal (Click on figure to enlarge)

Notice Integration Advisor provides you with the complete template structure including all required meta-information. For example, the B2B standard message type “pain.001.001.03” has 945 different elements distributed in hierarchical tree with ten nested levels. It is a much smaller structure in comparison with the message types of B2B standards such as a SAP IDoc, ANSI ASC X12 Transaction Set, or UN/EDIFACT Message. Even with the smaller structure, in today’s environment it is a very time consuming and tedious job to analyze the entire structure and identify the appropriate elements for your business context. Additionally, you have to identify the required code lists, code values, representations of identifier, constraints, qualifications, business and usage rules, definitions, comments, very specific representations of the value and any other relevant parameters for each and every element.  You must also understand the concepts behind the structure, as the pain.001 uses a complex looping structure which is dependent on the scenario in which the message will be used. Each of these factors adds a layer of complexity that makes the task of analyzing and identifying even more difficult.

With Integration Advisor this is all done instantaneously for you. Integration Advisor uses a combination of brute-force, crowd sourcing and predictive analysis approaches to produce a very high quality output that includes most of the aspects that have to be covered in a Message Implementation Guideline that meets your context parameters. Integration Advisor functionality includes multiple filter selection possibilities that allow you to fine tune its recommendations to further align to your specific requirements. You can combine different filter criteria such as all mandatory elements that are used in a specific country, or all “code” elements that are necessary in a specific industry. This kind of multiple selection will help you filter the structure so that you can review and understand the very complex structure much easier and identify your required elements much faster. For example by using the accuracy slider you’ll get the result as shown in Figure 9 with just the relevant information that may fit to your business needs. As a next step, you can review the suggested content and you can adjust the properties, definitions and code lists. You can easily and quickly add new elements or delete unnecessary elements. Instead of the current process of writing a complete new message guideline, you simply identify and justify deltas to Integration Advisor’s suggested guideline. Because Integration Advisor’s approach to use crowd sourcing intelligence and comprehensive analytics on its knowledge base, the quality of its recommendations can be quite high, and only improve over time. All contributions will be anonymized and merged with all other contributions so that the origin of the “proposed” content can’t be traced. As a result, you will need to do very little in the way of identifying and justifying deltas.  Because of Integration Advisor’s simplicity of use and intelligent proposal service, the changes you do need to make are done quickly and efficiently with minimal effort.

Figure 9: Display of just required elements (Click on figure to enlarge)

Sharing Message Implementation Guidelines and Create Mapping Guidelines

Next step is to share your new Message Implementation Guideline and establish the B2B connection with your business partner(s). Alternatively, you might be on the receiving end of a new MIG from your business partner. As with all things, Integration Advisor makes this a very simple process. Integration Advisor’s knowledge base contains information about all of your business partners you have identified, as well as information about every potential business partner that has an Integration Advisor account.  By selecting the My Business Partner’s MIGs tab, as shown in Figure 10, IA displays the overview of MIGs being used by your business partners.

Figure 10: List of business partner's shared Message Implementation Guidelines (Click on figure to enlarge)

Frequently your business partner will be using a different B2B standard or even a different representation of the structure in the same B2B standard. As a result, you need to map between the MIGs. As shown in Figure 11, you can immediately create a Mapping Guideline between your MIG and your business partner’s MIG.  Unlike the most of today’s mapping tools, Integration Advisor’s output is not an empty MAG in which you can only see the source and target structure. Rather, it is prefilled with proposals of mapping entities that should provide a best fit to your requirements. The mapping entity covers a single mapping between one or more source elements and one or more target elements and may have functions required for further processing such as concatenation of several source values and detailed into the mapped target element.

Integration Advisor’s proposal is also calculated by using its innovative “Crowd-Sourcing-Approach” which takes into consideration all solutions in its knowledge base. Of course, the quality of the proposal depends on the number of contributions already made – the more contributions in the knowledge base the higher the quality of the proposal.  Again, all contributions of mappings are anonymized. Integration Advisor’s proposal algorithm does not simply rely on matching source and target elements, rather it is very precise.  Integration Advisor compares the business context in which the mapping entities are defined and covers constraints such as qualification of segments (e.g. the E1EDKA1 (Partner Information) segment which is qualified by two different qualifier values), the content of mapped code values, all meta-information of source and target elements, descriptions, nodes, different business terms, and so on.

Based on weighting and calculation of probabilities of the different possibilities, Integration Advisor will provide you a number of mapping entities with a higher or lower accuracy as shown in the lower part of Figure 11. You can also use the filtering mechanism to further refine the mapping proposal. For example, if you want to increase the accuracy of the proposal, you can adjust the accuracy filter slider to where you’ll just see the proposed mapping entities that IA thinks are closest to your unique business requirements.

Figure 11: Proposal of a Mapping Guideline (Click on figure to enlarge)

With Integration Advisor, you can easily select or deselect the proposed mapping entities, or you can create new mapping entities in the graphical representation view of Integration Advisor’s mapping guideline editor by just dragging and dropping a source element to the required target element. Furthermore, it is an unleashed representation of the mapping itself. The definition of very complex and unreadable functions belongs to the past. The focus is usability and readability. For example the different qualified variations of the segment group E1EDKA1 are explicitly shown. This leads to a simple 1:1 mappings between the involved source and target elements instead of defining a complex “If … then … else” functions for querying the different qualifier values and the use of child elements in combination with these qualifier elements.

Unlike today’s environment, with Integration Advisor you are not forced to create the Mapping Guideline in isolation. Obviously, your business partner knows his structure and requirements much better than you do, so Integration Advisor enables you and your business partner to collaboratively work on the Mapping Guideline in real time. Integration Advisor leverages social business concepts such as commenting, tagging, social networking, and instant messaging in the Mapping Guideline editor client. These can be used to review and comment on each mapping entity of each element.

The final Mapping Guideline is saved in Integration Advisor’s central Integration Knowledge Base. This central storage has two distinct advantages over today’s practices:

  1. Mapping Guidelines, just like the Message Implementation Guidelines, can be shared with selected business partners with a simple addition to the share list
  2. Your stored content is anonymously included by Integration Advisor for its calculation of all future Mapping Guideline proposals. Therefore, your contributed content will help to improve the Integration Advisor’s quality going forward.

From Design to Runtime

Storing and sharing of “Message Implementation Guidelines” and “Mapping Guidelines” is just one aspect of implementing an integration scenario. In today’s environment, this is a manual process of handing off from the business expert to the integration expert – typically with mixed modes of input and output. Going forward, the Integration Advisor service will seamlessly and painlessly handle this function through tight integration with SAP HCI (Hana Cloud Integration) or SAP PO (Process Orchestration) together with the B2B AddOn. Integration Advisor does not care if the mapping will be provided on SAP HCI or SAP PO, because it will automatically create a draft integration flow (iFlow) as shown in Figure 12. This iFlow covers all necessary components for validating, mapping and converting the instance data in accordance with the predefined definitions and rules in the Mapping Guideline.

Figure 12: Generated draft integration flow (Click on figure to enlarge)

This generated iFlow addresses any necessary syntax conversion if the instance data has to be converted from an EDI or CSV specific syntax into XML syntax, or vice versa.  It considers the specific source and target schemes as defined in the source and target MIGs, and has a generated technical Message Mapping (Figure 13) that includes all mapping entities as defined in the Mapping Guideline.

One very important new feature is the Rules Validation component, which validates the business rules and constraints of incoming messages. As shown in Figure 12, with Integration Advisor you can graphically define business rules in MIGs. The business rules, such as – If the value of BtchBooking is “true” the value of CtrlSum should be larger than “100”. The “Rules Validation” component will validate all business rules prior to parsing the incoming instance and will throw an exception if the instance data violates a rule.

The technical Message Mapping generator will directly derive all required technical aspects from the Mapping Guideline. This is illustrated in Figure 13 with the aforementioned qualifier references. Further functions such as code value mapping or format transformations of data values will also be automatically generated.

Figure 13: Technical message mapping at HCI or NW PO (Click on figure to enlarge)

Unlike today’s environment, with IA and PO/PI, it will normally not be necessary for an integration expert to deal with the Message Mapping. There will of course be exceptions from time to time that cannot be covered in a Mapping guideline.  For example, the need could exist for creating and adding some additional, more complicated functions or adding some technical lookups of the data base table.  With Integration Advisor, the Integration Expert can automatically update the information in the central Integration Knowledge base so that you, as the business expert, will always have visibility of the most current version.

Deploy and Test

Finally, you can simulate and test the deployed mapping together with your business partner. You and your business partner will see all test data and results in a single view together with the Mapping Guideline. Unlike today’s environment, it is no longer necessary to do a line by line comparison of the cryptic instance data with the separate Excel spreadsheets or Word documents. As shown in Figure 14, all source and target test data are prepared in a readable format and displayed together with the corresponding elements in the Mapping Guideline. The source and target data can be easily compared, because you will get an immediate understanding of the semantics and value of each source and target element. This view does not require any technical understanding of the message mapping or even the technical representation of the instance data.  However, if you wish, you can select the Test Results view to see the required origin and final instance data in their native syntax expressions.  Thus you have a complete overview of the entire mapping, including the syntax conversion, in a single and easily understandable view.

Figure 14: A simulation of the mapping process (Click on figure to enlarge)

In this new environment, you can either upload existing test data, or Integration Advisor can create test data by either using the examples that are defined in the MIG or by automatically generating data based on the defined format and value space of an element. These test data can be directly edited in the Mapping Guideline view. Pressing the Simulate button will redeploy the most actual mapping in a runtime environment and simulate the mapping process where you can see the mapping result together with the target structure. Integration Advisor highlights mapping, rules, or conversion errors. Additionally, you and your business partner can review the results and can collaboratively comment on identified issues or mistakes. Corrections can be made on the fly by clicking on “Edit” button and just changing the wrong element, mapping entity or even business rule.

Once, you and your business partner are in agreement, you can add the required connection parameters for connecting the business system and you can deploy the iFlow including the finalized mapping in your productive runtime system.

Integration Advisor and SAP HCI Content Catalog + Runtime

As mentioned, the Integration Advisor is an integral part of SAP HANA Cloud Integration (HCI), but is primarily focused on the business oriented specification interfaces and mappings and generation into technical representations. This outcome has to be a part of the integration flows and integration packages, which have to be defined for the runtime connectivity between you and your business partners.

SAP HCI itself is making this complete cloud integration simple and reliable. It provides out-of-the-box connectivity across cloud and on premise solutions. It contains all real-time process integration capabilities that allow a bidirectional integration that connects data and business processes in cloud solutions with cloud and on premise enterprise software from SAP and other vendors.

Additionally, SAP is offering prepackaged integration content as reference templates that allow customers to quickly realize new business scenarios. Like in Figure 15 shown, the content is presented in the Integration Content Catalog (see also: https://cloudintegration.hana.ondemand.com ) and accessible over the same web-based application like the Integration Advisor. It allows the business domain experts and integration experts for exploring ready to run integration content as well as introductory information and demos. The integration content covers templates with prebuilt process integration, data integration flows and other integration artifacts that significantly reduce the implementation time, cost, and risk. These templates provide the base for the easy adoption on technical integration level to specific business needs.

Figure 15: Integration Advisor and HCI Integration Content Catalog + Runtime (Click on figure to enlarge)

The Integration Advisor will fully support the SAP HCI’s integration flow building of B2B processes in one of the next releases. Together with the “Integration Advisor”, it will be possible that these integration flows can be automatically enriched with the interface and message mapping content that is efficiently created and provided by Integration Advisor. The finalized integration projects with the “enriched” integration flows can be stored in HCI’s cloud repository at own “Customer Workspace”. These can be directly deployed on an assigned tenant at HCI’s cloud based runtime, which covers a multi-tenancy and cluster based message processing environment. All processes can be centrally monitored and administered, such as start and stop, deploy security material of runtime nodes or drive software or integration package updates.

Summary

Integration Advisor’s streamlined B2B integration process provides the required transparency and assistance necessary for business experts to quickly and effortlessly create interfaces and mappings. With Integration Advisor it is no longer necessary to have in-depth B2B integration and standard knowledge. Integration Advisor’s focus on the business oriented view for requirements definition significantly simplifies the process. Integration Advisor’s “Crowd Sourcing” approach with a single source of truth, collaborative working environment, elimination of manual processes and output medium changes, and a fully integrated simulation environment will enable rapid definition, testing and deployment of B2B integration processes in record time with significant savings.

The first pilot program of Integration Advisor will be available in the January 2015 timeframe.  If you would like to be part of this revolutionary approach to B2B integration by being an early tester and adopter, you can apply to be part of our pilot program. Please contact Gunther Stuhec (gunther.stuhec@sap.com) for further information.

Further Reading

The following blog gives you another overview about the Integration Advisor: B2B Integration – Tomorrow’s Simplified Environment

Introduction of the Integration Advisor at the TechEd && dcode 2014:

Flyers


[1] The described concepts at the next chapters and SAP‘s strategy and possible future developments are subject to change and may be changed by SAP at any time for any reason without notice. This document is provided without a warranty of any kind, either express or implied, including but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, or non-infringement

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