Enterprise Cloud Connect™: A Flexible and Scalable Platform

Enterprise Cloud Connect™ was built with the mindset that you don’t want to change your technical infrastructure every time the business process changes.

The Enterprise Cloud Connect™ platform connects to key enterprise systems such as SAP®, Oracle®, and salesforce.com® using their standard and recommended integration methods. Enterprise Cloud Connect™ has separate and distinct layers that insulate you from the complexities of your ERP environment. Enterprise Cloud Connect™ software surfaces standard ERP functionality with the same data, data validation and processing rules as are contained within your ERP. We then serve your data via SharePoint® or mobile platform so users can easily complete business transactions and processes.

Enterprise Cloud Connect™: REST Integration

While other products provide a toolset, or perhaps a pure developer experience, Enterprise Cloud Connect™ is the only product that provides both a self-service application suite, and a platform that provides a REST (Representational State Transfer) services API layer.

REST has gained widespread acceptance across the Web as a simpler alternative to SOAP and Web Services Description Language (WSDL)-based Web services. Key evidence of this shift in interface design is the adoption of REST by mainstream Web 2.0 + service providers—including Facebook, Yahoo, and Google who have deprecated or passed on SOAP and WSDL-based interfaces in favor of an easier-to-use, resource-oriented model to expose their services.

For the Enterprise/ERP world, our REST approach solves several core technical problems that have long hindered interoperability initiatives and interface development attempting to solve the SAP-to-any reasonable UI problem:

  • Ability to access the deep structure or nested data found in SAP
  • Ability to drive all aspects of the UI, including configuration support, fields, data elements
  • Ability to leverage standard, release BAPIs from SAP in a UI agnostic framework
  • Separation between ERP core system objects and UI components; if the ERP configuration is changed; the UI components are not affected
  • Ability to support various ERPs or LOB systems within one UI
  • Ability to easily support/surface user exists, Business Add-Ins (BADIs), or custom Remote Function Calls (RFCs)
  • Greatly accelerated development, less effort required

This diagram below illustrates the .NET business object components within Enterprise Cloud Connect™:

.NET business object components of Enterprise Cloud Connect™ illustration

The UI behavior is controlled by configuration; it is CSS driven and aesthetic themes can be applied. The configuration can be stored in a SQL database instance, a flat file, or in SharePoint as a document object or list. Storing configuration improves performance and greatly eases upgrades of core components.

Enterprise Cloud Connect™ also includes utilities that captures configuration when needed so as to synchronize Enterprise Cloud Connect™ with the core LOB system. It is possible to read configuration only from the LOB system real time, but that introduces some latency to transactional processing times. Since ERP base system configuration does not change frequently, capturing configuration and storing it fits well into ERP managed system standards.

An Example: Personal Details – Infotype 0002

Within Enterprise Cloud Connect™, we publish a RESTful service for Personal Details within SAP. It supports create, read, change and delete, the standard SAP activities needed to support this data.

Assuming a developer has written a token service or is leveraging the delivered user authentication service delivered with Enterprise Cloud Connect™, the following REST service URL is referenced:

URL: http://…/PAService/PersonalDetail/Get/{PERNR} or {USERTOKEN}

HTTP Method: GET

This URL returns a Javascript object notation (JSON) string:

JSON String code

The JSON string returns everything in SAP for that employee; all field labels and data values for Infotype 0002. The developer would then use the JSON string with any UI development platform such as Xcode/Cocoa, Visual Studio, Java Eclipse, etc. Despite its relationship to JavaScript, JSON is language-independent, with parsers available for many languages. In many ways it is an alternative to XML.

Another advantage to using JSON is broad browser support. The following browsers have or will have native JSON support, via JSON.parse() and JSON.stringify():

  • Mozilla Firefox 3.5+
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 8+
  • Opera 10.5+
  • Google Chrome
  • Apple Safari

Here is a C# snippet of the service call and related method for personal details:

C# snippet

Enterprise Cloud Connect™: A Complete Solution

Some software solution providers indicate that in the future their tool will be able to return JSON strings, but will not provide access to REST services for integration. Other products are developer-only experiences that still rely on SOAP services with no configurable UI. In this case, the developer would need to know the BAPIs, RFCs and function modules needed to support a given transaction. In addition they would then need to optimize those functions, develop the UI, create their own internal service framework and application architecture, and then deploy a solution. This is not an effective use of time, money or technical resources.

At Enterprise Cloud Connect™, we have architected a product that is optimized for flexibility in facilitating real business processes in the enterprise. Enterprise Cloud Connect™ includes the CSS, UX, and REST architecture in a platform solution. Enterprise Cloud Connect™ is still extensible via the REST API layer for customers to consume for a variety of functions, and that list continues to grow.