In this blog post, we’ll take a look at why you should integrate an SAP S/4HANA Cloud system.
We’ll start with a look at the rationale for why integration is different in a cloud environment compared to a traditional on-premise environment. We’ll continue by introducing integration best practices and describing the setup and related tools.
Since SAP was founded 50 years ago, its unique selling proposition has always been to run the world’s most critical business processes from end to end, across the whole value chain, in an integrated manner. Also, in today’s era of digital transformation, there’s no doubt SAP has home-field advantage since SAP has long been at the heart of many companies’ digital innovation journeys. As integration is so core to SAP, why do we need to talk about integration and integration strategies for SAP S/4HANA Cloud at all?
Let’s explore how integration in the cloud, as part of the intelligent enterprise, is fundamentally different than in a monolithic on-premise solution. We’ll focus on two key aspects.
The first aspect lies in the need to move from a big monolithic solution toward a modular architecture in the cloud. For SAP’s legacy ERP solutions, integrations are already built in as the relevant parts are components of the same monolithic system.
The second aspect involves the level of access to a cloud system. Let’s compare an on-premise system and a cloud system by asking the following questions:
- Who owns the data?
- Who operates the systems?
- Who owns the operating hardware?
- Who has access to customizing?
- Who has direct access to the code?
- Who has direct access to database tables?
- Who has options for modification?
- Who is the main security driver?
Only the first question is answered the same way in cloud and on-premise solutions as your data is owned by your organization in both scenarios. But all other questions are answered differently, moving the responsibility from your organization to a cloud provider. This shift in responsibility increases the demand for SAP to provide standardized and secure integration through public remote APIs.
The monolithic architecture of legacy ERP solutions is beneficial to integration in several ways. However, these solutions cannot compete with cloud-based solutions in many areas, such as in total cost of ownership (TCO), speed of delivery, or innovation adaption. That is why integration must be approached differently with SAP S/4HANA Cloud, which, as the digital core of SAP’s intelligent enterprise vision, must provide comprehensive and simple integration capabilities.
Integration Best Practices
To achieve these goals, SAP has provided standardized integrations between SAP products based on public APIs, while utilizing central tools such as the SAP Master Data Integration service or the SAP Cloud ALM solution for application lifecycle management (ALM). The following best practices will help you get the most out of your integration:
- Access the SAP Best Practices Explorer tool for integrations to SAP solutions as well as selected non-SAP solutions, and consume all the information, including setup instructions and test scripts (http://s-prs.co/v525500).
- If SAP Best Practices packages are not available for your intended integration scenario, access the SAP Road Map Explorer tool for upcoming integrations (http://sprs.co/v525501).
- If nothing exists on the road map for your intended integration scenario, access SAP API Business Hub to find the proper API (http://s-prs.co/v525502). If you want to only read data from SAP S/4HANA Cloud, you can create your own API from the released core data services (CDS) views by following the instructions on SAP Help Portal (http://s-prs.co/v525503). You can also check out the released CDS views on SAP API Business Hub (https://api.sap.com/themes/CDSViews).
- If no proper API for your intended integration scenario is available on SAP API Business Hub, access SAP Road Map Explorer to determine if such an API is planned.
- In the unlikely event that none of these options are satisfactory, request a new integration/API using the tool in the Customer Influence program (https://influence.sap.com/sap/ino/#/campaign/1175).
Cloud Integration Setup Procedure and Tooling
SAP S/4HANA Cloud offers an approachable way to set up integrations while helping ensure product security and stability, as shown in the figure below. All standardized integrations from SAP Best Practices Explorer, as well as all APIs, are provided through communication scenarios, which offer blueprints for allowed integrations. In this way, SAP provides newly developed innovations while helping ensure a smooth upgrade experience during each cloud release.
To set up integrations in SAP S/4HANA Cloud, follow these general steps:
- Define the technical users for inbound calls. These users are authorized to call SAP S/4HANA Cloud APIs from the outside. SAP S/4HANA Cloud supports basic authentication, OAuth 2.0, and certificate-based authorizations.
- Define the systems—both SAP and non-SAP—that are allowed to integrate to this specific SAP S/4HANA Cloud instance.
- Assign the previously created communication users to these systems.
- Based on the communication scenario, you may create a communication arrangement and configure the concrete integration, including specifying which inbound and/or outbound APIs must be used, as well as possibly defining sets of parameters or filters to customize the integration.
- By activating the communication arrangement, the integration is completed on the SAP S/4HANA Cloud side.
Four relevant apps are shown under Communication Management on the SAP Fiori launchpad, as shown below, accessible by key users with the role SAP_CORE_BC_COM, which is part of the administrator role SAP_BR_ADMINISTRATOR.
Editor’s note: This post has been adapted from a section of the book SAP S/4HANA: An Introduction by Thomas Saueressig, Jan Gilg, Uwe Grigoleit, Arpan Shah, Almer Podbicanin, and Marcus Homann.