This article summarizes the SAP backend integration technologies and shall be useful for all integration experts who start with SAP integration and other IT colleagues who consider SAP integration. Please note: Not all (but some) are proprietary.
SAP Backend can mean a lot meanwhile as there are several solutions in the market. Lets start with the most common view, the SAP ABAP system, being one component of the SAP Business Suite, such as
- SAP ERP aka ECC (ERP Central Component), f.k.a. SAP R/3 back in older versions
- SAP CRM, SRM, PLM, SCM, etc. also using the ABAP technology based on SAP NetWeaver
The successor of SAP ECC is SAP S/4HANA, running on a HANA database only, but still in ABAP. For the On-Premise version of SAP S/4HANA, all of the integration technologies still exist.
There are other SAP solutions like Concur, Ariba, Hybris, Fieldglass, Qualtrics which are not part of the “classical” ABAP tech stack.
Here´s the overview, you will find a short description of each technology below:
|SAP Technology||Transfer||Monitoring||Direction||Sync/Async||Tech Stack|
|IDoc||tRFC/qRFC, File, SOAP/HTTP||BD87, WE05||both||async||SAP ABAP (NetWeaver)|
|RFC / BAPI||sRFC, tRFC, qRFC, HTTP||n/a||both||mainly sync||SAP ABAP (NetWeaver)|
|ABAP Proxy (WebService-Runtime)||SOAP (WS-Standard) via HTTP(S)||SRT_MONI, SRT_MONIS||both||mainly sync||SAP ABAP (NetWeaver)|
|ABAP Proxy (XI-Runtime)||SOAP (XI 3.0) via HTTP(S)||SXMB_MONI, SXI_MONITOR||both||both||SAP ABAP (NetWeaver)|
outbound since NW 7.51 sp9/7.52 sp5
|sync||SAP ABAP (NetWeaver)|
|HTTP/REST||HTTP(S)||n/a||both (outbound typically via SM59-Destinations)||sync||SAP ABAP (NetWeaver)|
|Events||MQTT||/IWXBE/ERROR_LOG||outbound only||async||SAP ABAP (NetWeaver)|
Description of each technology:
- IDocs (Intermediate Documents) are standard containers having a predefined, hierarchical structure. They have a header with technical information and contain business data specific for that message type.
- RFC/BAPI: Business Application Programming Interfaces (BAPIs) are technically implemented using RFC (Remote Function Call) enabled function modules inside SAP systems. This is the oldest way for 3rd party tools to access SAP, both for read and write.
- ABAP Proxy (WS): ABAP Proxies via Webservice-Runtime use the SOAMANAGER for exposing a Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) service or receiving SOAP messages.
- ABAP Proxy (XI): ABAP Proxies via XI-Runtime use the SAP PI/PO or SAP Cloud Integration to send/receive messages. Proxies are esp. recommended for multipart messages, for instance containing a PDF-binary as an attachment.
- OData: Open Data Protocol (OData) service is a special familiy of a REST services. An OData service is a registered service in the SAP Gateway. The service may wrap a BAPI structure, encapsule pre-existing ABAP objects or a CDS view for consumption.
- HTTP/REST: A Representational State Transfer (REST) service is a request handler running in the Internet Communication Framework (SICF) either accepting XML or JSON format. The service is designed to provide standard access via HTTP(S) through operations such as GET, POST, DELETE. The service consists of a synchronous request with a response.
- Events are part of S/4HANA by default and can be used to trigger a message to an event broker (e.g. SAP Event Mesh) via MQTT. In older ABAP systems, you can use the Event Enablement Addon of ASAPIO in case your have a SAP BTP Event Mesh license.
- Files are not recommended as a serious integration technology, so we do not list them here. For more please check this article.
In SAP S/4HANA Cloud the following terminology is used:
- Communication Scenario (basis for all inbound and outbound communication)
- Communication Arrangement (describes the integration with a remote system using host/url, credentials etc.)
- In S/4HANA Cloud only OData, SOAP and REST APIs are supported, please also check https://api.sap.com/products/SAPS4HANACloud/apis/all
From a modern, HTTP-based API perspective (especially for provisioning) only SOAP (ABAP Proxy), OData and REST are to be named as such while IDoc and RFC interfaces are proprietary protocols.
On top of SAP (inbound) APIs you can always put an API Management solution to manage them centrally and provide additional services, such as authentication, traffic management or other security features.
Now comes the big question: When to use which technology? This will be answered in a later step…
In case you need a catalog of your existing SAP Backend interfaces, you can retrieve them using our documentation feature which is part of our Interface Management solution: Backend Interface Catalog.