In amongst the razzmatazz of Sapphire this year there was an announcement that SAP have partnered with Cloud Elements to add SAP Cloud Platform Open Connectors to the SCP portfolio of features. But what are they and why do they matter?
In essence Cloud Elements look to make API led integration as harmonious and straightforward as possible, by taking a different perspective on today’s integration challenge they have looked to simplify and unify the use of APIs. This is done in two key ways, firstly and critically a Virtual Data Resource is created that provides a single view of a business object (in terms of data format – i.e. fields, size etc) it is via this VDR that data is exchanged between applications. Secondly an Element is created that normalises an applications API layer to enable connectivity via an ordinary REST/JSON based call, while that sounds simple enough what is actually happening is that all authentication, pagination, switching between bulk/standard APIS, handling of throttling limits etc is dealt with by the Element. So rather than have to deal with varying API approaches and data models you work solely with a common data model (the VDR) and a simple API (the Element).
By bringing this into SCP as Open Connectors SAP have taken a significant step forwards on a number of fronts. Firstly, this addresses a long-held belief that SAP integration tools do not play well with non-SAP technology, whether that is an accurate view or not by making it very straightforward to connect to non-SAP applications via Open Connectors. What SAP have done is to create a clear message that it doesn’t matter if you want to run your hiring process in another companies SaaS application we will integrate with anything. Simply.
Secondly, for those of you who have taken the trouble to read through the CIO paper on SAPs long term integration strategy you will recognise the idea of creating a harmonised API layer – albeit in this case it was talking about harmonised APIs between SAP applications, so that all applications that referenced an Employee business object would have APIs that could be directly interconnected as they had been aligned in terms of data and syntax. What Open Connectors do is potentially take this one step further in that SPA can use the VDR and Element concepts to align APIs not only within their own portfolio but across the full landscape of 150+ Elements that exist in the current Cloud Elements library.
Finally this development really shows how SAP are focusing on making SCP an incredibly powerful evergreen platform for extending, connecting and orchestrating business processes across SAP applications, the wider landscape, users and partners. If Sapphire moved the SAP marketing machines focus onto C/4HANA and SCP generally, announcements like those around Open Connectors really show how joined up this strategy is and how it is being backed up by partnerships and developments that move the platform forward one leap at a time.