SAP Exchange Infrastructure (SAP XI) harmonizes heterogeneous system landscapes, such as are commonplace in most companies. SAP XI is based on open standards, such as WSDL (Web Services Description Language), XSD (XML Schema Definition), or SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), and acts as an “integration broker” that facilitates smooth communication between SAP and non-SAP applications.
The solution enables process-oriented collaboration within a company and across company boundaries. SAP XI is a component of the SAP NetWeaver application and integration platform and supports the full lifecycle of cross-system business processes, from modeling via execution through to monitoring.
Rapid implementation of collaborative processes
SAP XI does more than simply provide customers with an open technology platform for process-oriented integration of their systems. SAP additionally provides predefined process and integration expertise – known as “Process Integration Content” (XI content). Technically speaking, XI content is a collective term that refers to all objects that are required to describe collaborative processes in the integration repository, the development environment of SAP XI. These include data types, interfaces, mappings, and integration scenarios. SAP XI thus provides a complete integration solution – technology and integration expertise – out of the box. This is an important factor for achieving a consistent reduction in the total cost of ownership (TCO) of heterogeneous system landscapes. XI content plays a key role in this:
- It speeds up implementation: The integration scenarios contained in the XI content, for processes such as the distribution of master data or handling order processes, already map many of the requirements for collaborative processes in the SAP context, removing the need to spend time setting them up during the implementation project.
- It harmonizes the application and integration layer. The XI content is coordinated exactly with the corresponding SAP applications and their version cycles. The application and integration layer are thus harmonized, which facilitates the implementation and operation of the solution as a whole.
- Upgrades are speeded up: SAP applications and the corresponding XI content are updated in parallel. This simplifies planning and reduces the running time of upgrade projects.
An example of an XI content component is an integration scenario for an order process (purchase order) based on the RosettaNet industry standard. The integration scenario maps the course of this collaborative process and additionally provides direct navigation to all objects required for fully describing the exchange of communications, that is, interfaces and mappings. The scenario is thus the central entry point for the development of cross-system processes.
Harnessing the pool of experience of SAP partners
In order to expand the range of content, SAP is setting up a special network for software and service providers who provide integration solutions in the SAP context. Close cooperation with SAP provides these partners with easier access to the SAP NetWeaver client base, and they benefit from the experience that SAP has built up developing XI content.
The heart of this cooperation network is the certification program for XI content. It speeds up the market introduction of new integration scenarios as development is split between SAP and third parties. Additionally, comprehensive tests safeguard the quality of the content developed by partners.
Integration scenarios under the spotlight
The basic requirement of a certification is the syntactic precision of the integration scenario to ensure that no incorrect programming commands are issued to the XI content objects. SAP’s test also checks whether the objects are functionally correct to enable a smooth communication flow in accordance with the specifications of the scenario.
A further test criterion is completeness. A content provision should cover one or more integration scenarios as fully as possible. If any objects that are required for a scenario are not supplied, this must be documented exactly. The documentation of the XI content is also tested. It must comply with SAP’s guidelines, which include the requirement that each part of the integration scenario is described in the SAP XI documentation tool.
The steps towards certification
The certification program is coordinated by the SAP Integration and Certification Center (SAP ICC). The first step for software and service providers who want to have XI content certified is to register via the SAP ICC website. The certification process then begins:
- SAP gives interested parties the option of coordinating their new content with its own development. This ensures that specific integration scenarios are not duplicated.
- If the software provider has not already created an integration scenario before registration, he can now start development. Providers who do not have an SAP XI development system can use an SAP ICC system.
- The SAP ICC loads the partner’s completed scenario into the SAP XI test system and tests it.
- SAP ICC issues the test report and the certificate.
- The new content is announced via the SAP website. SAP adds it to the XI content catalog, via which clients can contact the providers directly. The provider manages sales, shipping, and support of their XI content.
Benefits for partners
The certification program benefits both SAP and the content providers. For instance, providers can use the “SAP certified” branding in their marketing campaigns. Additionally, SAP publishes all certified integration scenarios on its company websites, thus affording the providers an effective marketing platform. As the sale of XI content usually entails implementation projects at the client’s site, partners with consultancy expertise in particular are able to provide a full solution package. Further, the content can be coordinated with the SAP development team, thus avoiding duplicate developments.
The new certification program is part of a comprehensive partner strategy intended to create an “ecosystem” around the SAP NetWeaver application and integration platform. Alongside content certifications in other SAP NetWeaver fields, such as SAP Enterprise Portal or SAP Business Intelligence, this also includes cross-component programs, such as the “Powered by SAP NetWeaver” initiative.
Information on the certification program and the test criteria can be found at ICC@SAP.com.