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The SAP Connectors allow the integration of different applications using its technology with SAP Systems using the standards. The connectors are means for technical interoperability of SAP Components (written in ABAP or ABAP Objects) and other components (e. g. written in Java, C++, Visual Basic, .NET, etc.). There are many types of SAP Connectors such as SAP .NET Connector, SAP JAVA Connector, SAP DCOM Connector, SAP BUSINESS Connector. SAP Exchange Infrastructure is middleware which can be used by various applications and technologies to integrate with SAP using an open protocol and standards.
SAP Exchange Infrastructure (SAP XI) is SAP's enterprise application integration (EAI) software, a component of the Net Weaver product group used to facilitate the exchange of information among a company's internal software and systems and those of external parties. Like other Net Weaver components, SAP XI is compatible with software products of other companies.
SAP calls XI an integration broker because it mediates between entities with varying requirements in terms of connectivity, format, and protocols. According to SAP, XI reduces integration costs by providing a common repository for interfaces. The central component of SAP XI is the SAP Integration Server, which facilitates interaction between diverse operating systems and applications across internal and external networked computer systems.
SAP Xi- Architecture
XI is well suited for connecting SAP systems with each other and with non-SAP. If the focus is not on SAP systems, other solutions might be a better choice today. SAP XI provides an integrated workflow engine that allows to define adapters to non-XML-protocols and mappings to convert data content from source to target.
Central XI monitoring offers the following options:
Business Process Management
A business process is an executable, cross-system process. In a business process we can define all the process steps that are to be executed and the parameters relevant for controlling the process.
Implement cross-component Business Process Management (BPM) when required to define, control, and monitor complex business processes that extend across enterprise and application boundaries.
The Integration Engine is the runtime environment of the SAP Exchange Infrastructure.
It enables to process XML messages exchanged between applications in heterogeneous system landscapes. Both applications of SAP components and external applications can communicate with the Integration Engine.
Using adapters, the Integration Engine can also process IDocs (Intermediate Documents) and RFCs (Remote Function Calls). This option is available for applications that have already defined IDocs or RFCs, as well as for applications of SAP components that do not yet have access to the proxy generation functions.
The following are examples of other important parts of this infrastructure:
The integration processes involved can take place between heterogeneous system components within a company, as well as between business partners outside company boundaries.
A central component of the adapter runtime is the Adapter Framework, with services for messaging, queuing, and security handling. The adapter framework supports the JCA standard (JCA: J2EE Connection Architecture) and communicates with Resource Adapters, which are either a component of SAP XI or are provided by SAP partners. All adapters shipped by SAP are resource adapters, apart from the IDoc adapter.
The following adapter components are based on the adapter framework:
Adapter Engine (J2EE): For adapter communication within a system network.
Partner Connectivity Kit (J2EE): Enables business partners who do not have SAP XI installed to receive and send messages
System landscape Directory
Business partners who use SAP Exchange Infrastructure (XI) can exchange messages between their system landscapes.
If both business partners use SAP XI 3.0, then we can connect the two Integration Servers to exchange data.
An SAP XI 3.0 Integration Server can also send and receive SAP XI 2.0 messages. Therefore, it is also possible to integrate business partners who use SAP XI 2.0.
Small business partners who do not use SAP XI can use the Partner Connectivity
Kit (PCK) to exchange messages with the system landscape of a business partner
who uses SAP XI 3.0.
Partner Connectivity Kit
The PCK of the smaller business partner receives a message from its system landscape and converts the format of the message to XI message protocol. The message is forwarded to the Integration Server for further processing.
To forward XML messages from the Integration Server to a receiver business system in the system landscape of the smaller business partner, the PCK of the business partner receives the message, converts into the format required by the receiver system, and then forwards the message. The PCK contains the following adapters:
How SAP XI works with .Net?
If the .NET application is exposing any API in the form of Web servics, SAP XI can make a call to the web service.
If .Net app is on the sending then it can call SAP XI using a HTTP call or using a Web service.
WSDL (Web Services Description Language) is generated using SAP XI and then it's used to generate the client proxies in VB. The ASP.NET web application interacts with SAP XI using generated VB class and SAP XI's SOAP adapter.
Generate Client proxies using WSDL in VB/C#
ASP.NET Web Appln
Steps for connecting .Net with SAP:
Configurations from SAP Xi side
Create request message mapping.
Create response message mapping.
Create interface mapping between source & target.
Create sender communication channel of type SOAP adapter using the outbound synchronous interface and its namespace.
Create receiver communication channel of type RFC adapter.
Create receiver determination using sender service, outbound synchronous interface, receiver R/3 business system and then create interface determination using RFC and finally create receiver agreement using receiver RFC channel.
Create a WSDL for the outbound synchronous interface. Use this URL http://host:port/XISOAPAdapter/MessageServlet?channel=party:service:channel while defining web service. Save the WSDL (Web Services Description Language) in the local system.
Configurations in .Net side
Open the development environment of Microsoft Visual Studio .NET and create a new project of type Visual Basic using the template ASP.NET Web Application.
Copy the WSDL generated using SAP XI in the root folder of web application.
Go To solution explorer --> References --> Add Web Reference.
Browse To: Web services on local machines.
Select the service and click on Add reference.
When the web reference is added for the WSDL the .VB source (proxy) is generated in the Web References folder of the web application. This proxy needs to be compiled into Dynamic Linked Library .DLL. For this, build the web application using Build-->Build Web application. The DLL is generated in webapp/bin/ folder
Monitoring is better than any other middleware product. It offers exhaustive monitoring features like message, performance, component monitoring etc, all of which can be used to track and rectify the errors. It follows a hub and spoke model.
When we need to integrate with an SAP system XI has an advantage in supporting various SAP components and so on.
Process functionalities inside XI to modify content in the communication channel on own defined rules for business purposes.
Mappings and adapters are good as comparable with any other middleware product.
Synchronous & Asynchronous communication is possible.
Web methods are particularly good if u have B2B kind of communication with their Trading Partners product.
XI is lacking full-fledged Message Queue compared to other established Middleware products.
It lacks in ability to process huge messages but SAP is working on that.
It does not have a messaging layer exposed by APIs like IBM MQ-Series.
It is not comparable to Tibco in terms of speed.
SAP relies on other vendors except for a few adapters.
Currently applications in Honeywell are using the various SAP connectors. Migrating the applications integration to SAP Exchange Infrastructure will get cost advantage by avoiding SAP connector licenses. SAP PI Base Engine is priced based on the overall processed message volume expressed in Gigabytes (GB) per month. The applications will also benefit from modern integration functionalities like "delivery assurance", "once-only", "ordered-delivery", "prioritization", "review of messages and resubmitting after correction". SAP Xi is one of the key building blocks of enterprise SOA architecture provided by SAP.
We can continue to leverage towards Honeywell SOA based IT landscape with SAP Xi.