By Torben B. Sørensen,
The latest version of the integration tool SAP PO is a pure Java solution that runs faster and pro- vides new opportunities for communication with EDI systems.
The new version of SAP Process Orchestration is both smarter and faster than its predecessor. Thus, there are strong arguments in favour of upgrading. But companies must consider a number of aspects before deciding, advises SAP expert Peter Kreiner from NNIT.
SAP Process Orchestration (PO) 7.31 is the latest version of SAP’s tool to tie the systems together. It is a strategic tool that turns a collection of isolated information islands into an integrated whole.
SAP PO is used both internally, where, for example, it can connect the financial system with the HR department’s systems, and externally, where it expedites orders and invoices between trading partners.
So far, SAP PO been structured as a combination of Java technology and SAP’s own ABAP stack. But PO 7.31 is a pure Java solution. “This means that there is no need to translate between the two languages. In practice this means that the system has become seven to ten times faster. And at the same time, the hardware requirements are now 40 per cent lower,” says Peter Kreiner.
Thus, PO 7.31 can run on less expensive hardware, so there may be money to be saved by switching.
In addition to the improved performance, SAP PO 7.31 also offers new functionality. If the system is to communicate with an external Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) system, you must use an adapter for the trade standard that the partner uses. This could, for example, be X.12 or EDIFACT.
Previously SAP did not deliver adapters, so it was necessary to invest in adapter software from other software houses, such as Seeburger. But with the new version, you can now buy adapters directly from SAP.
“You can avoid having to buy adapters from Seeburger, which many find expensive and hard to use. However, there are differences in how you pay for them: At SAP, you pay based on how many partners you integrate to, while with Seeburger, you pay by document type. So it is an individual assessment about whether it can pay to switch,” he says.
The transition to pure Java is not without chal- lenges. If the business has developed business processes with cross-component Business Process Management (ccBPM), they cannot be easily moved. Therefore, they must be newly developed in the BPM tool that is part of SAP PO 7.31.
“If you have many processes, it might pay to continue with two software stacks, which use both Java and ABAP. But the future of the product is clearly Java, so at some point you have to change,” says Peter Kreiner.
Some of NNIT’s clients handle more than 700,000 messages in their PO system every day. It might be that all orders come in that way. Thus, the PO is a critical system where downtime costs a lot of money. Therefore, the transition to the new version must be planned very carefully.
“We recommend that businesses, together with us, prepare a detailed plan for how the transition is to take place. Here we must clarify the level of ambition: Do we want to move everything, includ- ing wanted and unwanted elements, or take this opportunity to clean up the system? This is also a good opportunity to have the documentation updated so that you have complete control over what happens where in the system,” he says.
Peter Kreiner recommends to the vast majority of clients that they carry out ongoing migration rather than upgrading everything at once. In this way, the task can be divided into partial projects. This limits the risk should unforeseen problems occur.