To look through the different offerings of SAP is a simple task as all the components are well structured, carefully considered and fit together perfectly. Let’s have a short look to the SAP portfolio before we start talking about SAP Business One, running integrated into the big SAP systems. SAP addresses the market with solutions for Large Enterprises (LE), for the Midsize Market (SME) and for the Small Business Market (SB). The SAP Business Suite is focusing on LE customer, the SAP Business All-in-One and SAP Business ByDesign is focusing on SME customer and SAP Business One is especially optimized for the SB customer.
The SAP Business Suite comprises the most prominent SAP component SAP ERP (aka SAP R/3 or SAP ECC) and the SAP CRM. Beside these there are components to enrich the offering with some industry common functionality (SCM, SRM, PLM). SAP Business All-in-One is a pre-configured subset of the SAP Business Suite. The SAP Business ByDesign is an on-demand solution, covering ERP, CRM and PSP. SAP Business One is an integrated ERP system, comprising standard modules for all essential areas for enterprise management.
Special Industry Solutions are covering in addition industry specific functionality. Whereas the IS for SAP Business Suite and SAP Business All-in-One are provided by SAP, in SAP Business One industry specific functionality is covered by AddOns, provided by ISVs (Independent Software Vendors).
SAP Business Suite, SAP Business All-in-One and SAP Business ByDesign are based on the SAP NetWeaver Platform. SAP NetWeaver includes SAP BI (Business Intelligence), SAP PI/XI (Process Integration), SAP Mobile Infra Structure and SAP Enterprise Portal.SAP Business One is a .NET solution. The platform SAP B1i framework is the SB equivalent to SAP NetWeaver. Both stacks are harmonized and are interacting via ALE, RFC and HTTP based protocols.
Because of this common infrastructure, all the SAP applications can run seamlessly integrated. The smooth interaction between different SAP applications is very important and allows customer a well integrated, full SAP solution for many valuable use cases. The most prominent use case is Subsidiary Integration, covered by SAP Business One and SAP Business One integration for SAP NetWeaver (B1iSN). It is SAP’s offering to all its customers to integrate their smaller sites like subsidiaries, suppliers, operating divisions, trading partners, franchises etc. Also SAP Business One, running on a SB customer site often needs integration to e.g. suppliers, which are running SAP Suite components. This use case is covered by the SAP Business One integration Framework (B1if). Through the B1i framework, is it B1iSN or B1if, SAP Business One is talking to any of the SAP applications and to the components of SAP NetWeaver. B1i is very flexible and can apply to the customer’s overall landscape and policies. Especially for customers running an R/3 system only, not having an SAP NetWeaver stack, B1i supports direct communication via RFC and ALE. Depending on the customer’s needs, B1i can integrate via the customer’s PI/XI even to other 3rd party systems in the landscape via the common HTTP based protocols like SOAP, Rest, etc.
The two RFC modes RFCA and RFCP are supported by B1i. Via RFCA (active) B1i is able to call BAPIs and any customer specific function modules in any of the SAP systems. Means whenever some individual data is missing in a project, you can easily develop a small ABAP program, check it to be remote accessible and then you call it from B1i to retrieve the appropriate data. The B1i framework comprises also components from SAP NetWeaver, e.g. the report engine and the RFC library. The RFC library allows B1i to be an RFC Server, waiting in a passive mode for incoming IDOCs, sent out by ALE from any SAP system. IDOCs can be sent out automatically, triggered by the change pointer in ALE or explicitly via a transaction in the SAP system. Prerequisite is to define the B1i server as a logical system in SAP and to configure ALE to send changes in particular objects via ALE to the B1i server.
Beside the RFC mechanism, SAP Systems are providing service oriented interfaces to send and retrieve data. These protocols are HTTP based and have different flavors, like SOAP or Rest services. The message structure is following the SOA conventions. For SAP Business Suite components SOA enablement is done inside the SAP NetWeaver stack; therefore SAP NetWeaver is mandatory for SOA based integration to any component of the SAP Business Suite. SAP ERP is providing the SOA enablement from on SAP ECC 6.0 (EhP). B1i supports all four types of SOA integration (one way, request/response, notification and solicit response).
As we saw, the technical basis for integrating SAP Business One to any SAP system via different options is given. In case you want to use an Out-of-the-Box scenario, shipped by SAP, you need to double check with your customer if the BAPIs, Function modules and IDOCs (ORDERS05, DEBMAS05, DELVRY03, BAPI_CUSTOMER_GETDETAIL2, …), used in the particular scenario are supported by the particular SAP backend system. For using the SOA based integration scenarios, you need to clarify with the customer if the interfaces (e.g. MaterialERPWarehouseManagementViewReplicationRequest) are available and active. Especially SAP ERP software is highly customizable. Therefore you also need to clarify if the existing interfaces (e.g. ORDERS05) is modified. The Out-of-the-Box scenarios are typically based on the standard interfaces. In case these interfaces are modified, you have to create your own integration scenario by copying the standard scenario into the customer namespace and then to apply the modifications to the transformation rules, which basically should be a minor issue. As a rule of thumb you can say, that the interfaces, used by SAP for Out-of-the-Box scenarios are mature and available for a long time. This guarantees a high coverage of existing SAP systems in the market, even the support for the old SAP R/3 releases.