SAP is a popular tool among large-scale organizations for optimizing daily operations. These include financial management, inventory management, human resources, sales CRM, and more. Within the SAP ERP framework, SAP ERP data integration ensures data uniformity. This will provide real-time insights for decision-making.
In this guide, we’ll start by overviewing SAP, the need for SAP ERP, how businesses can operate with SAP ERP data integration, and four different SAP data integration tools.
What is SAP?
SAP (Systems, Applications, and Products) is a global software company in the Data Processing space. It is known for its enterprise software solutions that help organizations manage their business operations and customer relations effectively.
Some of the key solutions provided by SAP include:
- Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP),
- Business Intelligence (BI),
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM),
- Human Resources (HR),
- Cloud Services, and
- Mobile Applications.
What is SAP ERP and Why is it Needed?
Often, there are different approaches to managing and organizing data within an organization. One of them is a decentralized data management system. Here, the data is distributed across multiple locations, databases, or even individual departments within an organization.
In such a system, data storage can be fragmented, with each unit maintaining its data repositories.
For instance, consider a retail chain with multiple stores across different regions. Each store operates independently and manages its data locally. Sales data, customer data, employee records, and financial transactions are stored on separate servers at each store. While this decentralized approach provides autonomy to individual store managers, it can lead to several problems:
- Data Fragmentation: Each store maintains its datasets, leading to fragmented data. Customer data in one store’s database may not match another’s due to inconsistencies.
- Decision Delays: Retrieving data from disparate stores can be time-consuming and error-prone, affecting the efficiency of business operations.
- Data Security: Data security practices, if varied between stores, may lead to exposing sensitive customer data, potentially leading to security risks.
To address the limitations of decentralized systems, a shift to centralized systems or SAP ERP solutions is implemented. But what is ERP in SAP? SAP ERP serves as a centralized platform that integrates various functions and departments. It enables the storage and control of all data from a single central location or database.
Developed by SAP, SAP ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) is a software solution to help you manage your business units and streamline core business processes. Using SAP ERP, you can seamlessly integrate various BU’s (Business Units) like finance, sales, inventory, and accounting into a unified platform.
SAP ERP data integration refers to the process of connecting data between SAP ERP Systems and other external systems or databases. You can share and synchronize data from diverse sources within or outside the SAP ERP environment. This allows you to enhance data accuracy and enables data-driven decision-making, improving overall efficiency.
Employing ERP SAP data integration can help you achieve several benefits:
- Enhanced Data Consistency: ERP SAP data integration ensures your data remains consistent and up-to-date across multiple systems and departments, reducing discrepancies.
- Improved Operational Efficiency: Integrating SAP ERP solutions helps you streamline processes and achieve real-time data access. This enhances operational efficiency, reducing manual work and errors.
- Advanced Analytics: SAP ERP integration solution supports advanced analytics and BI features, enabling deeper insights and reporting. This allows you to gain immediate insights from your data. As a result, this helps you identify trends, opportunities, and issues as they arise.
- Enhanced Customer Experience: Updated information availability and access to customer data, order status, and inventory levels enables you to provide better customer service. Customers can receive instant information on product availability, order status, and service request. As a result, this leads to high customer satisfaction.
- Data Security: SAP ERP offers robust security features, ensuring all types of data are protected with data privacy and regulations. It includes role-based access control, various authentication methods like single sign-on, and detailed audit logs and event logging.
SAP Data Integration Tools
SAP offers several data integration tools to enable seamless data movement, transformation, and synchronization with the SAP environment and with external systems. Here are four prominent SAP data integration tools:
- SAP Data Services
- SAP Landscape Transformation Replication Server
- SAP HANA Smart Data Integration
- SAP Replication Server
SAP Data Services
Powered by SAP, SAP Data Services is a robust ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) tool that facilitates data integration, quality management, and transformation tasks. It allows you to extract data from various sources, transform it, and load it into SAP systems or other destinations. With the use of multiple connectors in SAP Data Services, you can deliver data in various formats to the target systems. It also includes features for data profiling, cleaning, and enrichment. The aforementioned image shows a functional overview of SAP Data Services.
Within SAP Data Services, data profiling is one of the important steps that involves analyzing data to identify and address data quality issues. For complex scenarios, you can use it with additional products like SAP Information Steward to fully optimize data quality.
One common use case of SAP Data Services is its utilization by BI and analytics teams to transfer data into SAP Business Warehouse (SAP BW) systems. It extracts, prepares, and loads data from transactional systems, often SAP systems, into SAP BW. This data transfer is supported for batch processing within the SAP BW environment.
SAP Landscape Transformation Replication Server
The SAP Landscape Transformation Replication Server is often referred to as the SAP LT Replication Server. It is designed to enable real-time data replication between two systems.
SAP LT Replication Server involves replicating data from either an SAP system or another database to a SAP HANA database.
SAP HANA (High-Performance Analytics Appliance) is an in-memory, columnar database management system. It is designed to handle large volumes of data in real-time, making it well-suited for business applications, analytics, and data warehousing.
Features of SAP LT Replication Server:
- Real-Time Replication: SAP LT Replication Server focuses on real-time replication, ensuring changes made in the sources are immediately reflected in the SAP HANA database. This is achieved through the use of database triggers on the source system. These triggers get activated with every data change and log entries to determine the changes.
- Deployment Options: The tool can be installed either on the source system or on a separate Advanced Business Application Programming (ABAP) system. This deployment flexibility allows you to choose depending on the organization’s requirements and architecture.
SAP HANA Smart Data Integration
SAP HANA smart data integration combines the features of SAP Data Services and SAP LT Replication Server. This makes it suitable for batch processing and real-time data integration.
Here are some of its key characteristics:
- Unidirectional Integration: SAP HANA smart data integration supports data integration into SAP HANA systems. It doesn’t export data from them.
- Data Replication and Data Virtualization: It offers two ways to integrate data into SAP HANA systems. In data replication, data is stored in the SAP HANA database. In data virtualization, data is fetched in real-time from the source as soon as information is needed by the application. This process is facilitated by SAP Hana Smart data integration.
SAP Replication Server
SAP Replication Server is a data replication and synchronization tool. It enables real-time replication between databases, ensuring data changes are continuously updated in the target environment.
- High Availability: In scenarios where an active system fails, the SAP Replication Server allows you to seamlessly perform a transition to an inactive system, minimizing downtime.
- Failover Support: SAP Replication Server supports failover and disaster recovery strategies. It achieves this by ensuring synchronized copies of data are readily available when needed.
SAP can be used by a wide variety of businesses, and SAP ERP solutions can help you streamline your business tasks and improve efficiency.
If you’re in the market for a real-time data replication tool, try Hevo. Hevo Data can also help you set up a near-real-time data transfer pipeline between any two platforms. With an intuitive interface and data transformation capabilities, Hevo is an effective solution for your data integration needs.
If you don’t want SaaS tools with unclear pricing that burn a hole in your pocket, opt for a tool that offers a simple, transparent pricing model. Hevo has 3 usage-based pricing plans starting with a free tier, where you can ingest up to 1 million records.
Schedule a demo to see if Hevo would be a good fit for you, today!