I find it fascinating to speak with people who can explain a subject like software integration in terms that anyone can understand. That was my experience with Peter Ha, who heads the development team for Advantco SFDC Adapter for SAP HANA smart data integration, now available for a free trial on SAP App Center.
Zipping Onto the Data Freeway
Along with a very creative Advantco team, Ha conceptualized the adapters and describes software integration as a freeway: “The destination is SAP HANA; that’s the central point, the database. Other software applications like customer relationship management or HR, for instance, need a way to get on that freeway, to access and integrate with the central data. The adapters are the onramps.”
Anyone who has ever traveled that road – building those onramps – knows that it’s quite a time-consuming exercise. Instead, developers can simply download the Advantco adapter with the work already done.
In this case, the adapter is for Salesforce. Simply stated, the SFDC Adapter pulls in all the data from Salesforce software – contacts, customer account information, financial and sales records, and so on – and instantly replicates it in SAP HANA. The person responsible for SAP HANA has a direct one-to-one connect to Salesforce.
“Say that data is stored in 10 fields, but now 12 are required,” Ha explained. “Where mapping new fields would take weeks, it’s done in minutes with the adapter. That kind of flexibility can save development teams a lot of overhead.”
Brandt Boggs, who heads the customer success team, added, “When we run a demo, the developers see how easy it is to use – to set up the connectivity, create a new account table, or whatever they want to do.”
Boggs pointed out that the SFDC Adapter is just one of some 30 Advantco connectors certified for integration by SAP, all of them available on SAP App Center. I was curious to know how Ha, Boggs, and the team make decisions about the ideation of the next integration. “It’s a combination of inputs,” Ha replied, “from conversations with customers, our colleagues at SAP, our partners, and just knowing what kind of protocols are going to be important.”
Streaming in the Data Fast Lane
Yet the integrations aren’t always enough, he noted. “Some problems, the integrations can’t solve, and we have to go a step further. Right now, we’re working on streaming microservices, specifically to help customers manage very large data sets and potentially reduce the amount of data residing in the cloud. For example, say a company has a large volume of service orders within the system. Does all that data need to go to the point of sale, or the warehouse, or the manufacturing plant? We can build in logic to determine what subsets of data to send where – essentially, what to include and what to take out – and put it in a stream.”
I was curious to know how long it typically takes the Advantco team to build these integrations and learned that there really isn’t a beginning and end. “These technical adapters are always undergoing small incremental improvements,” Ha said. “As SAP adds new features, we adapt on the API side.” Since its inception in 2007, the company has traditionally been product-focused, “with one of the best teams of developers in the business, who have worked together since the beginning.” Clearly, there’s a great deal of mutual admiration at Advantco.
Driving Traffic on SAP App Center
Both Ha and Boggs have lengthy tenures at the company, and Boggs recalled that their products have been available on the SAP online marketplace from day one, when SAP introduced the original version. The adapter for Salesforce.com represents a first for Advantco, however, with not only a storefront, but a 30-day free trial and pricing information for license purchase on SAP App Center. “Our customer base is primarily large enterprises, and these buyers are finding their way to SAP App Center to explore what SAP partners are offering. It’s another great way for us to expand out channels.”
Bill Rojas is senior director of Digital Transformation and Partner Engagement at SAP.