When to use SAP Netweaver Gateway vs. PI

What does integration mean to your SAP implementation? Integration seems like it should be a very simple problem to solve with SAP. Connect two systems ...

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What does integration mean to your SAP implementation?

Integration seems like it should be a very simple problem to solve with SAP. Connect two systems together, either directly or through SAP PI. But what about mobile users or consumers of SAP data that need light-weight integration? I will explain how people often overstate the reasonable use cases of SAP PI. Finally I will show how SAP Netweaver Gateway may now be a legitimate answer to use cases where PI isn’t a good fit.
From SAP’s web site, this is how SAP PI is introduced:

Over three thousand organizations are using the SAP NetWeaver Process Integration (SAP NetWeaver PI) offering as their enterprise-class, service-oriented architecture (SOA) middleware to perform application-to-application (A2A) and business-to-business (B2B) integration, and to accelerate composite application development.

http://www.sap.com/platform/netweaver/components/pi/index.epx

If you read that carefully, the scenario described above is not very broad. What about mobile-to-SAP? What about Microsoft SharePoint connections to SAP?

PI is best used with asynchronous communication which is described in the Best-Built Application Guide: http://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/sdn/bestbuiltapps?rid=/library/uuid/d0619693-ce8f-2c10-07b5-fc222ad36370.

One of the most interesting new products of SAP is Netweaver Gateway, and in particular the 2.0 release.
http://www.sap.com/platform/netweaver/components/gateway/index.epx

Gateway allows you to expose your SAP systems with REST HTTP service calls instead of cryptic BAPIs, or even highly complex SOAP services (that are better suited for PI). REST is a really simple and fast web service interface that is extremely easy to integrate. If you aren’t familiar with BAPI’s, they can be very powerful and critically useful. If you are an ABAP programmer they may even be easy to use. However, to a 3rd party, or anyone integrating with SAP, these are downright cryptic:

SAP Netweaver Gateway is an ABAP Add-On for Netweaver 702. It generates these simple REST services (create, read, update, delete, and query) based on the back-end business objects. Once these services are exposed, you can easily consume them from consumers like mobile-devices.
There are a few challenges I would like to note. This is a relatively new product, and very few of these business objects come out of the box. A good knowledge of the business objects and ABAP is really important to create these. Also the basis and technical setup is not arbitrary. Those points aside, I was able to create a RESTful set of services based on Invoices in ERP in just a few hours. As this product matures, and more objects come out of the box, it will be exciting to see the innovative ways that SAP data can be used throughout the enterprise.
Gavin Quinn

Gavin Quinn

Gavin Quinn is an industry thought leader and has a relentless commitment to making the SAP user experience simple, mobile, and beautiful. Gavin is the founder and chief architect of Mindset Consulting and has over 15 years of experience leading SAP projects for Fortune 1000 companies, internationally-renowned health care organizations, and government agencies. He got his start in UX design with SAP NetWeaver Portal and has quickly evolved to include mobile design using SAP Fiori and other web-friendly technologies. Most recently, his focus has been SAP ERP, SAP HANA, and SAP Fiori. Gavin is a regular blogger and speaker on the topics of mobility and SAP Fiori.

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