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Pros and cons of SAP Cloud Platform integration tools

In today’s complex heterogeneous information network, there are typical challenges which need to be addressed in Integration domain. Some of the questions which immediately arise are which technologies to use? How complex is running and maintaining integration solution? Which protocols to use? What about our organisation data security? What is the total cost of ownership? How much time is needed for integration? What about the software upgrades etc? One stop solution for all these problems is SAP HANA Cloud Integration.


So, let’s get the basics right! Based on queries from customers, we have realised that most of our understanding towards HCI is not up to the mark. If we need to summarize in one line:


"SAP HCI is SAP PI solution on cloud with better flavour. It is a pre-packaged integration content hub in cloud that “Discover, Configure, Manage “the data.". HCI comes in two flavours, HCI for process integration, and HCI Data Services for data provisioning. In terms of licensing, SAP HCI prefers subscription fee-based license model for all the users.


HCI Pros [Based on Use Cases] -


* Enterprise Integration Pattern - it allows integration between different type of business processes Residing in different systems by exchanging contents in multiple ways. HCI supports large number of Enterprise Integration Patterns.

* Cloud-to-Cloud Integration - SAP HCI is the first player in the market, which has full capability to integrate Cloud based applications.

* Cloud-to-On-Premise Integration - HCI also support SAP/Non SAP on-premise system integration with cloud solution.

* On-Premise-to-On-Premise Integration - On-Premise sender and On-Premise receiver can exchange their data through HCI.


On-Premise Integration Solution – Let us take an example of a Customer who is already using on-premise SAP Process Integration and he does not want to replace SAP PI solution with HCI. HCI provides them flexibility to connect their PI solution with other solutions.


HCI Pros [Based on Capabilities]


* Integration Platform as a Service - As SAP is selling HCI as a service, customers have flexibility to increase no of integration processes anytime

* Horizontal scalability - HCI supports horizontal scalability with the Subscription-based usage. There is absolutely no need to take pain of maintenance and upgrade activities.

* Message Processing Step Types - HCI supports different integration patterns. Each integration pattern consists of processing steps. In each processing step you can define tasks to process the flow properly. Steps like message transformation, message persistence, security, routing and event etc can be defined. SAP HCI provides very easy and user friendly message routing for integration.


It also allows asynchronous message handling. We can define content-based router. We can also define message mapping principle. HCI allows message exchange between multiple business entities. It provides easiest way to configure the integration flow.


Connectivity Option - HCI is completely designed based tool. Almost all integration scenarios, customers can design and operate through HCI. For achieving this, HCI is providing different adapters. Adapter like SOAP Adapter, Idoc(SOAP) Adapter, HTTP Adapter, Mail Adapter, SFTP Adapter, SuccessFactors Adaptor, Ariba Adaptor, Odata Adapter, Twitter Adapter, Facebook Adapter etc.


Pre-packaged Integration Content - SAP has provided built-in integration packages for many business cases which minimises customer efforts. Some of the examples are: SAP C4C(Cloud for customer) integration to SAP ERP, SAP Supplier relationship management, SAP Extended warehouse management, SuccessFactors Employee central and third party vendors etc.


Security Features - SAP's all datacentres are with maximum level of security minimising risk of data theft. HCI developers can configure storage of data permanently or temporarily. They can also monitor their data. For sensitive data protection and privacy, HCI provides various steps like- Message processing, Monitoring, Customer Onboarding, user logs etc. In order to provide better security, HCI supports audit log.


Provisioning and operating HCI clusters- SAP HCI team does provisioning of new customers account and tenant.

Transport Security - HCI provides security on transport layer level for secure transports

Encryption and signing - HCI uses asymmetric key encryption with digital signature. For authentication and authorization checks HCI supports BASIC Authentication, Certificate based authentication, Oauth. For certificate HCI allows customers to create their own Key store. From Access point of view, each customer can define their own permissions for each user. HCI supports role-based user access and user management.


Communication: HCI uses HTTPS, SSH and SFTP. It also supports intra-cluster communication. It has efficient Network architecture design due to central management node, tenant management node and tenant node. SAP cloud platform team will have access to only central management node.


HCI supports regional policies imposed in different regions. For example, European customers data will be processed based on European Union Access policy (EU). SAP HCI has adopted all regulation and processes based on European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).


High Availability – SAP has hosted their cloud systems across the globe, so downtime is absolutely zero. During software upgrade times, there is no chance of downtime of productive system. In case one component fail then automatically another component will start without any failure


Integration Design and Monitoring Tool - HCI is providing user friendly User interface through web ui to configure integration flow, monitor the processes and perform the development

Script writing facilities – Customers expecting more customization, HCI allows developers to write their code with groovy script and JavaScript.


HCI Cons -

HCI has different set of adapters as mentioned above such as SOAP, HTTP, IDoc, SFTP, OData, Success Factors, Mail, Ariba, Facebook, Twitter etc. But in few cases, customers still have to build custom adapters and make them publicly available. However, it is expected that additional adapters will become available in future releases.


Vishwa Mohan Kumar
Founder & CEO - AIRDIT software service

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