Suppose a purchaser is negotiating with a long-time vendor. A complete record of spending with the partner will determine the partner’s future purchasing power. The purchasing agent’s reports must provide a unified view of business partners across all areas and systems within the enterprise, or the agent will inevitably negotiate with poor information – obsolete products, missing or duplicate vendor information, or an incomplete view of the relationships among vendors. The lack of a unified view of products and vendors – in other words, a lack of consistent master data – could cost the company money.
How can customers get an integrated view of products and services into their systems and then back out to users when they need it? How can IT meet these challenges? What tools exist to integrate, transform, consolidate, and distribute different kinds of data – whether it’s transactional or master data, historical data, or up-to-the-minute data?
This article describes how SAP NetWeaver specifically addresses the challenges of data integration and distribution in the context of immediate and accurate delivery of master data. SAP customers who already use SAP Business Intelligence (SAP BI) have crucial reporting capabilities for historical data. By integrating their current SAP Business Information Warehouse (SAP BW) 3.5 with other components of SAP NetWeaver – SAP Master Data Management (SAP MDM) and SAP Exchange Infrastructure (SAP XI) – such SAP customers can provide unified data at the right time to information consumers to increase their insight into the enterprise.
Expanding users’ approach to data acquisition: ETL and EAI
In many companies, data is fragmented and spread across dozens, if not hundreds, of databases and applications. To be useful, data must be integrated, standardized, synchronized, and enriched – typically through ETL (extraction, transformation, and loading) processes. SAP BI provides a broad set of ETL capabilities that support data extraction. With the open interfaces of SAP BI, data can be loaded from virtually any source and can handle the huge amounts of transactional data typical of the enterprise landscape.
Nowadays, however, companies look beyond traditional ETL and expand the concept of data acquisition to include enterprise application integration (EAI). EAI enables applications to talk to each other and deliver information immediately. As an integration broker, SAP XI supports the concept of realtime data acquisition, in which data is updated in the data warehouse or the operational data store in real time.
Of course, not all users need all data in real time. Now, with SAP NetWeaver, companies can provide up-to-the-minute data for immediate decisions and deliver large amounts of historical data to those performing strategic analyses – without redundant data for each type of user. This approach concerns transactional data or master data.
For a unified, synchronized, and specific picture of product and vendor data, SAP MDM works in concert with SAP XI to offer consistent distribution of master data objects into other systems – both within the company and across company boundaries. SAP NetWeaver thus provides a unique platform that offers complete information integration.
How SAP NetWeaver brings consolidated master data into the SAP BI system
SAP XI is the integration component between SAP MDM and other areas of a solution landscape, such as SAP Enterprise Buyer (SAP EB), SAP R/3, and non-SAP systems, through the exchange of XML messages. The integration of SAP XI and SAP BI allows customers to use SAP XI to send data from various sources, including SAP MDM, to SAP BI. SAP XI distributes (routes), transforms (maps), and transports the messages exchanged between the systems.
By using SAP XI to support realtime data acquisition, the data warehouse and operational data store in SAP BI can act as one more subscriber to the realtime data distributed by the integration broker. Connecting the current SAP BW component to SAP XI makes SAP BI a recipient of the data routed by SAP XI, including the master data from SAP MDM. In other words, SAP BI becomes a master data client. It takes three steps to distribute master data to SAP BI.
Three steps toward distributing master data to SAP BI
Suppose that the master data administrator or manager has created a new business partner object (BUPA) for a vendor on the master data server as part of the Central Master Data Management scenario. The object contains the vendor’s name, addresses, and credit and bank information; the data must be distributed to its respective master data clients. We want to define SAP BI as one of those clients – as a recipient of the master data record. Which steps must the data administrator perform to distribute and receive master data in SAP BI?
- Identify related business content objects in SAP BI and generate the corresponding XML interface in SAP BI that will receive the data from SAP XI. SAP XI relies upon the exchange of XML messages for integration.
- Design of the inbound message interface in the SAP XI integration builder (including profile mapping). The interface will map the SAP MDM object structure to the business partner and vendor structure in SAP BI.
- Generate the proxy object in SAP BI. With the proxy, SAP XI can deliver the correct messages to SAP BI via an appropriate service exactly once and in the correct order.
How does SAP MDM work?
In local systems within a landscape, such as SAP R/3, different local vendor numbers in various applications often represent a single business partner. For example, one SAP MDM scenario, Central Master Data Management, provides an environment in which customers can gather and maintain master data on a master data server.
Consider a long-standing vendor who has seen a partner through mergers, acquisitions, and new subsidiaries. The various systems almost always contain multiple identifiers. SAP MDM can receive this data from any of its source systems, including SAP R/3 and non-SAP systems. Key mapping information in SAP MDM associates all the vendor numbers (such as 5711 in one system and 6711 in another) as a single master identifier – say, 4711. When local vendor numbers are mapped to the master reference number, users have a consistent view of all partner interactions across the business.
SAP MDM stores the relationship for each business partner and vendor as key record mappings. SAP MDM then distributes the reference record to the master data client; the original reference record data remains in SAP MDM. As a result, users avoid duplicate data in master data creation, distribution, and, ultimately, in their reporting for more consistent views of products and vendors.
Additional benefits of connecting SAP BI and SAP XI
In addition to realtime possibilities and the ability to receive data from various sources, the integration of SAP BI and SAP XI also offers advantages like greater options for the transformation of message content between sender and recipient. With its EAI capabilities, SAP XI can now push data into the delta queue of SAP BI. Data transfer in SAP BI generally takes place via a data request from SAP BI to the source system (pull from the scheduler). Users can now also send the data to SAP BI using external control via a data push into SAP BI. Data transfer takes place via transfer mechanisms sufficient for the simple object access protocol (SOAP) and based upon XML.
What’s more, for SAP BI to accept data from SAP MDM or other sources, the data must be transformed into a format that corresponds to the interface of the function module generated in SAP BI and used for data transfer. In this case, the SAP MDM data structure must be mapped to the SAP BI information model.
The SAP XI integration builder supports mapping and helps adapt the values and structures of a message to the recipient with graphical models and a clear overview of the objects to be mapped. In this manner, users can transfer different data objects to an SAP BI system using interface mapping. It allows them to take data from another system, such as the SAP MDM system, transform it into XML or another format, and bring it into SAP BI, where it can be transformed for reporting.
Another benefit is improved communication by the use of proxies. Proxies are executable interfaces generated in application systems for communication with the SAP XI integration server. Proxies guarantee full quality of service: exactly once and in order. SAP XI sends the message to the SAP BI proxy framework of the SAP BI system from which the master data will be written into the SAP BI delta queue.
By making full use of SAP NetWeaver, including SAP XI and SAP MDM, companies that currently use SAP BW can take advantage of the synergy between ETL and EAI when integrating and moving data. Drawing upon the respective strength of both technologies and combining them with master data management, companies can access, integrate, and deliver data from system to system using the integrated information model of SAP NetWeaver as a unifying element.
And because not all end users require the same timeliness or “freshness” of data from an SAP BW system, companies can use SAP NetWeaver to provide up-to-the-minute data and deliver large amounts of historical data, depending upon whether a user needs to perform strategic analyses or realtime updates. The synergies here help companies improve decision making through better use of data. With the three capabilities of SAP NetWeaver working together in a single environment and using one metadata model, companies can easily combine historical information and realtime data to give users a richer context based upon consistent data from a wide variety of sources.
For detailed documentation on SAP MDM scenarios and distributing master data to a SAP BI system, please visit http://help.sap.com/nw04.
Source: SAP Insider