For years, SAP NetWeaver Process Integration has provided an effective mechanism to integrate your SAP and non-SAP systems. The world of integration is meanwhile evolving into a process orchestration game. You do not merely integrate systems, but business processes. And you would definitely like to know how your business integration impacts a particular process.

This has brought a mix of players into the integration projects - Business Process Analysts, Integration Architects and Integration Developers. The various players in the project speak and understand the project from different perspectives. So, a more smarter mechanism of integration is required. This led to the concept of Integration Flows being introduced in the Enhancement Package 1 of SAP NetWeaver Process Integration 7.3.

Integration flows is a major function point for faster integration development, which translates into quick time to project completion. But in this blog, I would like to share information on how integration flows can be used right in your blueprint phase. By blueprint phase, I mean the planning and discovery phase of the project.

Consider a Purchase Order Collaboration process. Your business process analyst provides you the blueprint for the process. As an integration architect, you define the systems and protocols for this particular process. To visually represent this concept, you would do so using boxes and lines. Something like below.
Rough sketch of integration scenario

This is a very intuitive and understandable integration process. What is better - you can use the very notation of BPMN 2.0 to represent this, with the same intuitiveness and also adopting an industry standard.
 
Integration architects can start with the design, and then later ask developers to fill in the details, too. For example, the specific interfaces and mapping names can be completed by your development team. This can be started in the beginning of your project implementation, the blueprinting phase.

So, what are the benefits of using Integration Flows in your Blueprint Phase ?
  1. Intuitive and easy to understand how the systems connect to define your process. Makes it easy for every one to understand what are the integration goals
  2. Easier to communicate the project details with implementation team
  3. Common language between your business process analysts and integration developers
  4. Recognize integration patterns early in your projects

And, while you are thinking how the whole thing will translate into a final output using the BPMN 2.0 standard, this is how it will look [The diagram below is an actual representation of the Integration Flow using the new tools of 7.31].

Doesn't it look the same as the drawing above !

BPMN representation of your integration flow 

So, start using Integration Flows as the language for representing your scenarios.

Useful Links:

  1. Enhancement Package 1 of SAP NetWeaver PI 7.3
  2. New to BPMN
  3. PI/XI: Eclipse based integration flows - how to configure them with PI 7.31

Why allow Custom Clients to Integrate with SAP NetWeaver Mobile?

A lot of mobile devices are available in the market; devices based on numerous platforms such as Windows Mobile, RIM, Symbian, Linux, Palm, iPhone, Android, and so on which provide a rich native user experience. In the field of business, customers and partners must be able to choose any device, and be able to access their enterprise data.

SAP NetWeaver Mobile is the platform for SAP's enterprise mobility. And to allow customers and partners to choose any client technology that suits their business requirements, we have opened-up the DOE, so allowing you to integrate any client technology with SAP NetWeaver Mobile. This enables any client technology to leverage middleware capabilities such as data distribution, data integrity, device management, scalability and so on. 

Ways to Integrate a Custom Client

There are two ways you can integrate your custom client:

  1. Using SAP's Sync Layer - We have developed a sync layer on the DOE that is used by the standard SAP NetWeaver Mobile client. The same sync layer can be consumed by the custom client. In this case, the custom client must communicate with the standards required by the DOE.
  2. Using your custom channel - If you want to communicate using your own standards, then you can create your own "channel" in the DOE. Early April, we shall release a document that describes steps to create a custom channel.

All the APIs that you require to communicate with SAP's Sync Layer are exposed for the developers. This is what you have to do to integrate the custom client:

  1. Create an HTTP interface on the DOE. An HTTP URL is then available for your custom client to communicate with the DOE.
  2. In the interface, you must process the messages from the client and call the corresponding APIs. For example, if you get a request from the client to download messages from the DOE, you have to call the GET_MESSAGE API of the DOE.

Documentation

The document that describes how to use the Sync Layer is now available in SDN. You can download the guide here.

(A special thanks to Rajeswara S Rao, Gunashekar M, and Vikas Lamba of the SAP NetWeaver Mobile team for their efforts towards preparing the guide)

So, try creating your own custom client - using J2ME, Microsoft .NET, or any client technology and try communicating with SAP NetWeaver Mobile.

In early April, we shall provide you documentation for creating a custom channel.

Hello SDN Readers,

This blog is about communicating enterprise information through SMS. Short Messaging Service or SMS in short is a very common way of communicating information to mobile users. SMS is one of the channels through which you can communicate enterprise information in SAP NetWeaver Mobile, the others being RSS, and the default channel.

To start - What is a channel?

Simply put, a channel is a mode of communication between the DOE and its receivers.
A channel is characterized by attributes such as direction of the channel(only sends data to devices, only receives data from devices, or both), registration criteria, sychronous/ asynchronous, and so on.

SAP NetWeaver Mobile provides a default channel through which mobile clients for laptops and handhelds communicate. In addition to this channel, we provide an SMS and an RSS channel.

The SMS channel is based on SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol). In the DOE, this channel is an outbound channel (only sends data to receivers), synchronous in nature, and does not require device registration.

How does the SMS Channel works in SAP NetWeaver Mobile?

SAP NetWeaver Application Server (ABAP) has a module called SAPconnect. SAPconnect provides a standard interface for external communication, which supports sending using telecommunication services such as FAX, text messages (pager/SMS), Internet mail and so on. You can find more information on SAPconnect here.

In the Data Orchestration Engine, a mobile number is specified for each device. So, after the DOE calculates data that a device must receive, it sends the data to the SAPconnect module. The module then sends the data to the SMS gateway.

There are two activities that you can do when configuring an SMS channel:

  1. Maintain rules on a data object to filter out information that must be sent via an SMS. Example, you can create a rule: [ORDER_VALUE > 10,000] - here ORDER_VALUE is a data object node. Then SMSes are sent only for those orders whose value is greater than 10,000.
  2. Maintain separate message texts for sending SMS messages. Example, you can maintain the following text "A new order [ORDER_NO] for $[ORDER_VALUE] has been created". Here, ORDER_NO and ORDER_VALUE are data object nodes. If an Order 1230099 has been created in the back-end for $55000, the SMS sent will be "A new order 1230099 for $55000 has been created".

How do you configure the SMS channel?

To begin with, you need an SMS Gateway that you can reach from the application server. After that, here is an overview of the steps:

  1. Enable the server to send SMS
  2. Configure the SMTP Plug-in
  3. Assign SMS channel to devices
  4. Configure the data objects to send SMS

I have detailed all the steps on how you can configure the SMS Channel in this guide. So, download the guide and try it in your landscape. It is quite simple!

Next Blog: Using the RSS channel of SAP NetWeaver Mobile

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