Each month in 2018, our ONE.Source community will feature one or two topics to feature across the month. If you missed it, January was Logistics month. For February, we're focusing on Integration with SAP Business One.
Let's start with a definition of our core topic to set the baseline for our February conversation. When we talk about Integration, I find it better defined as "systems integration." From there, the ever-helpful Wikipedia provides this starting point:
So this month, we will look at bringing together different IT systems to address a business challenge and providing a solution that (hopefully) solves that business challenge in a semi or fully automated way, all while reducing the overall cost for the business to meet that need.
So how can you do that as an SAP Business One user, and what are the options available to you?
Beginning with the Basics
If you look at the very basics of SAP Business One, you have the core import and export capabilities of the solution. The import piece recently got a boost with the 9.3 release, explained in this short video from SAP.
Additionally, you have the tried and true Data Transfer Workbench (DTW), which has been part of the SAP Business One solution since it's inception.
However, both of these solutions are really focused on importing data. Of course, the DTW does allow some scripting and can be scheduled to run, but these options don't really fit the bill of integration solutions.
B1i aka SAP Business One Integration Framework
B1i, a component of the solution that started its life as a "skunkworks" project (an unofficial project), has now become an important piece of the SAP Business One integration story.
You may not even have heard of it; but if you use the SAP Business One Cockpit as part of your deployment on Microsoft SQL Server, then you are potentially using B1i without even knowing it.
The advantage of B1i is that it adds additional capabilities around Business Process Modeling. But, from my perspective, it can be quite a handful to learn, and isn't the best fit for the every day or casual user to use for building integrations.
For more on B1i, see my previous blog about B1i and the DI API, with insights following the Biz.ONE Conference about the future of B1i. That post also contains an example of how you can use the Integration Framework as part of an Internet of Things(IoT) project.
SAP HANA – The Service Layer
Of course, SAP HANA is the focus of SAP these days, so you need to be aware of the service layer that is only available with SAP Business One version for SAP HANA.
Side note: See my post on what we learned about the future of SAP Business One, and SAP HANA's place in that future.
With the focus on SAP HANA, a lot SAP's integration focus will be around the service layer, as it is the most "modern" of the SAP Business One components for integration. The service layer also supports a lot of the latest standards like OData and provides the web services layer that SAP is encouraging development against.
The full guide to working with the service layer can be found here on help.sap.com, Working with the SAP Business One version for SAP HANA Service Layer. For our purposes, this excerpt provides a short explanation:
Behind Every One of These Technologies Sits...
The DI-API, or Data Interface Application Programming Interface; this is the core component that provides a compiled subset of the business logic that sits inside the SAP Business One application in a set of objects (actually, mainly one object). Developers can call on this directly when writing applications and most, if not all, applications that integrate with SAP Business One are usually built on this component.
Often complained about, but usually relied upon by developers, the DI-API is the critical component of every one of the above mentioned integration components, as well as many of the third-party integration solutions we'll cover during February.
What's Coming Up in February?
I hope that helps provide a high-level view of the integration technologies that are delivered by SAP with SAP Business One; we will drill down on these in more detail during our Integration month.
So what do we have coming up? I encourage you to bookmark this working document of our Integration curriculum for February. You can see some content we already have, as well as the events currently planned. We will also continually add to this as blogs, videos, discussions, and more webcasts build up throughout the month.
Currently, we have at least three webcasts taking place:
- Feb. 8: My interactive Best Practices/Ask the Expert session. Ask your questions in advance.
- Feb. 20: An impressive customer story from Heat Transfer Research, Inc. on Livecoding: Service Layer + ReactJS
- Feb. 22: Updates, insights, and your direct channel to SAP. Request topics or ask questions in advance.
If you have specific questions or there are components of the integration "stack" that you would like to know more about, I encourage you to join these live sessions. Asking your questions via those links above is the best way to help us tailor our content to your needs.
Stay tuned to the ASUG blog and our ONE.Source community forum for much more to come as we drill more into these solutions and look at how you can make the most of your SAP Business One deployment with integration.