SAP connection & interfaces

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

What SAP connections & interfaces are there? In this guide, we have summarized, listed and explained everything important.

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Everything important at a glance 

  • The five main types of SAP interfaces are: Coupling via IDocs, Remote Function Calls (RFC), Business API (BAPI), SAP Java Connector (JCo), SAP Exchange Infrastructure (SAP XI)  

  • SAP integration has many advantages, among other things: increased productivity, improved customer loyalty, innovative business models. Find out in the further course which advantages there are in addition.   

  • Possible challenges of an SAP connection can be: Coordination of the data model of the systems, network connection and network security. 

SAP connection & interface introduction

The software provider SAP is one of the world's largest software manufacturers - and accordingly pursues an ambitious goal: to provide users with a common, company-wide database for various applications. To achieve this, interfaces from SAP to other in-house products or external providers are essential. Application areas can be, for example, finance, human resources management or controlling. More about this in the following. 

What types of SAP interfaces are there?

Optimizing SAP interfaces accelerates business processes and reduces potential errors in data processing. Interfaces enable communication between SAP applications, as well as between an SAP and a non-SAP system. Read more about SAP and Salesforce integration and how to fully exploit the potential of both systems here.   

Standard interfaces offer the possibility of connecting external systems to SAP. However, for the digitization of processes in companies, there is also a great need for integrations of non-SAP systems. SAP interfaces allow any other software solution to exchange data with the SAP system. The five most important interfaces include the following: 

Coupling via IDocs 

IDoc stands for Intermediate Document and serves as an Interface for the Message exchange between SAP systems as well as between SAP systems and non-SAP systems.  

Remote Function Calls (RFC) 

RFCs are procedures used to call functions in remote systems. RFC is also used as an umbrella term for SAP's own protocols and as Interfaces is used to call such functions.  

Business API (BAPI) 

Like RFC, BAPIs are standardized interfaces that can be used to access the SAP system from external applications. However, a BAPI is only a Function block, which is RFC-enabled and has additional properties and a fixed range of functions.  

SAP Java Connector (JCo) 

The JCo is a Middleware component which enables Java components and Java application servers to communicate with the SAP NetWeaver Application Server ABAP. The communication with the SAP ABAP server can be realized by using SAP JCo in both directions take place.  

SAP Exchange Infrastructure (SAP XI)  

SAP XI provides a central platform and various interfaces aimed at integrating different systems. The aim is to create a Process-oriented collaboration between SAP and non-SAP components across corporate boundaries and to provide fundamental support. 

Why do you need such interfaces or an SAP connection?

Nowadays, things have to move fast in both the professional and private spheres - viewing data quickly, being able to communicate quickly, making appointments quickly. The time factor is crucial; delays, on the other hand, are frustrating. The more time-consuming and complex it is to find a solution to a problem, the faster customer satisfaction goes downhill.  

And this is also the reality: Most companies have yet to deliver a frictionless user:inside or customer experience. Outdated technologies are to blame. These make it almost impossible to allow end-to-end data flows. Distributing data across multiple on-premise and cloud environments doesn't help solve the problem, either. In turn, the data cannot be used optimally due to insufficient integration of SAP and non-SAP systems.   

To keep operations running smoothly, you need straightforward, omnichannel data streams that are available across the entire infrastructure. In other words, an IT landscape that enables employees to work more productively instead of hindering them. So, the bottom line is: possibly, you too will have to deal with the challenge of an SAP connection or SAP interfaces. 

What are the benefits of SAP integration?

SAP integration brings with it a host of benefits:  

  • System boundaries can be overcome 

  • Complexity is reduced through data exchange 

  • Smooth processes are created  

  • Improved collaboration across the enterprise   

  • A basis for informed decisions is ensured   

  • Not to be forgotten is also the transparency that management needs to cope with global tasks.  

SAP integration is thus ideally suited for global companies with branch offices, sales offices and subsidiaries all over the world. 

What are possible problems of an SAP connection?

Of course, (technical) problems can also arise with an SAP connection. CIOs and IT executives are confronted with this time and again. 

On-premise vs. cloud 

SAP systems are often On-premise solutions. The IT team must therefore integrate local servers and systems into other data centers. Security aspects and data protection play an enormously important role here. SAP functions and data must be available for Cloud systems be made available. Here it is necessary to weigh up the possible effort and benefit.  

Multiple programming languages 

Even if your developers are well acquainted with your business processes, working with several programming languages and connectors such as PHP, Java, .NET or SAP's own language, often poses a major challenge. Here, IT teams usually have to rely on external support to fall back.  

Endless administration and maintenance 

The more complex a company's IT environment, the more time your developers will spend on System maintenance and rework, to be busy. Current innovations often fall by the wayside here. What is needed at this point are uniform interfaces, such as RESTful APIs, to keep the IT environment secure for future scenarios.  

Employee acceptance is a challenge 

Employee acceptance is a broad topic when it comes to new processes in companies - not only regarding an SAP connection. Managers must provide their teams with the appropriate tools without making their work more difficult. Otherwise, internal users will look for solutions themselves and become disgruntled with the new system. The easier it is for them to do their work, the more employees will accept the changes, which will also benefit your customers.  

Interwoven interfaces 

The more and/or faster a company grows, the more often it is the case that a wide variety of new systems are used. A specially programmed code and a colorful tangle of most different interfaces are necessary to enable smooth data exchange. Such system landscapes are rarely stable and cost you a lot of time and effort.   

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