Do you need to integrate any of your existing SAP on-premise solutions with a Cloud application? In theory it should be a relatively straightforward activity, but in the absence of a structured, well thought out process it can be more challenging.
There is nothing particularly difficult about the infrastructure set-up needed. But once this has been covered off, you’ll undoubtedly face some more stringent requirements - not least how to guarantee secure communication between your on-premise systems and the Cloud solution itself. This may call for additional infrastructure and is certainly going to need the involvement of your security, network and basis teams. If you are running on an IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) platform, such as Amazon or Azure, you would still likely have the same considerations as with a traditional on-premise landscape.
Getting your systems ready for a smooth integration with Cloud applications will require detailed planning and management across your whole environment. So, here are some key things to consider before embarking on your Cloud integration project.
1. Patch levels
Depending on your Cloud solution, your back-end SAP system might need to be on a minimum patch level. Generally, these requirements are quite low but it should be one of the first things you check as it can have a significant impact on your ability to initiate the Cloud project. Even if minimum requirements are met, with older systems some things that are now taken for granted may need to be set up manually.
2. Additional components
There could well be a requirement to add a small software component as a pre-requisite, so that objects required for integration work are added to your system. This can vary depending on the integration tool that you’re working with, but the architecture will need to be designed and put in place early on in the project cycle.
3. HTTPS communication
Cloud solutions are built to be secure. They therefore require communication to your back-end system to be secure. In the majority of cases this will be done over HTTPS. In our experience this part of the project is often a challenge if some of the software tools and concepts have not been employed before. If the back-end system has not had HTTPS set-up then it is likely there will be no reverse proxy in place to expose back-end services to the wider Internet. On the other hand, many customers have already cracked this for other existing systems, so assuming that the basic requirements are already met, it can be a straightforward process to extend this to an additional system.
4. Infrastructure security
All of the requirements touched on so far will undoubtedly call for input from your infrastructure folks, as you’ll need help with certain tasks such as new firewall rules. You should therefore ensure that change governance timescales are considered in your planning.
5. Single sign-on and authentication
This can be the single most challenging aspect of any Cloud integration. Single sign-on is not a strict requirement for the integration of the systems, so it is often regarded as out of scope, but it is something that should be considered as central to your overall Cloud integration strategy. The good news is that Cloud services generally support the SAML 2.0 protocol for centralised authentication with an identity management system. This leaves you free to consider both SAP and non-SAP solutions in this area, but any decision will depend on your existing security and authentication arrangements, whilst also taking into account where your main user repository is stored.
All of these areas are relatively simple to manage, but as you can see there are many issues to consider. If you take some of them for granted without thinking things through in enough depth, you can hit problems and introduce significant delays further down the line.
A lot depends on the current state of your back-end systems, your infrastructure set-up, and the relative experience of your team. So a careful assessment of your current environment early on is a very wise idea to inform decisions about design, implementation and planning of any changes. It will definitely get you off to a great start in your next Cloud integration project.