SAP is on another expensive acquisition spree and is also setting up white label agreements with partners, resulting in SAP hosting a range of products and applications on SAP Cloud Platform but the impact of these strategic purchases, on clients, SAP development teams and capability leads, can be disorientating. When working with SAP, we are often challenged to not only upgrade our skills rapidly but we are also constantly puzzled on what is the business case for using these new apps, and what does it bring to the broad portfolio of existing technology that organisations have already procured, paid for and use.
SAP entered into a white label agreement with Cloud Elements recently and hosted it’s Open Connectors on SAP Cloud Platform. It now not only has over 150 out of the box connectors for different systems but it also provides a very intuitive UI to build your own third-party custom connectors on SAP Cloud Platform. In this blog, I will not only look at when we will use Open Connectors but also the steps required to host the Google Cloud vision API on SAP Cloud Platform.
Hypothetical business scenario and use case
We tend to assume that smart meters are embedded into customer sites with an intelligent IoT device, which is used to record an image of meter readings, before sending it to SAP Cloud Platform. The next stage of the process integrates the meter reading into S/4HANA Cloud and SAP backend systems to synchronise the meter reads, so invoices are automatically generated and payments are deducted from the customer’s bank account seamlessly.
To achieve this, we use Google Cloud Vision API – the reason behind this choice is that the API is a pioneer (in the industry) for Image Analysis and connects to both SAP on-premise and cloud systems. It is also worth noting that SAP Leonardo provides an API for Image Analysis but Google Cloud Vision was selected to demonstrate how quickly we were able to integrate other vendors with SAP cloud and on-premise systems.
The business scenario challenges us with a thought-provoking question: “As there is no standard connector for Google Cloud Vision, and we have to build integration from scratch, which tools should be used to develop, for example, SAP API Management, SAP Cloud Platform Integration (SAP CPI) or Open Connector?”
We already know that we will use SAP CPI for the process orchestration pattern (i.e. when we have to orchestrate and fetch or split and map and encrypt data from multiple on-premise and cloud systems), therefore it is easy to deduce that SAP CPI and Open Connector offerings are complementary. This now narrows down the question: “When would we use just SAP API Management and when we would use Open Connector – opposed to when do we use both of them?”
Using both SAP API Management and Open Connector provides the capability to design and develop and document or discover API’s using a drag and drop UI. Open Connectors are used when we need to paginate or search API’s consistently or normalise authentication or enhance the functionality of the vendor or SAP API’s. API management is used when we need to monetise API’s or apply security verification or traffic policies (i.e. verify authentication, Spiking, Quota, Billing plans, etc.) or centrally monitor or expose the API’s across the organisation and business partners.
We want to enable Image Analysis API’s to upload or download images in bulk, and normalise vendor-specific authentication, suppress Google Cloud Vision API key authentication and use SAP Basic Authentication. But to use Google API quota and a monetising plan – our choice was Open Connectors.
We choose Open Connectors for this use case as we wanted to reuse Google API quota and the monetising plan but also wanted to enhance Google Cloud Vision Image Analysis API’s to upload or download images in bulk, and normalise Google specific authentication – i.e. use SAP Authentication on SAP Cloud platform as we are connecting to SAP applications (the backend systems). It took exactly less than an hour to build this connector on the SAP Open Connectors platform without any prior skills on this platform.
For a more in-depth view on functionality and when we can use Open Connector Components and SAP Open Connectors – check out my article on SAP SCN, which also provides guidance on how we can build Google Cloud Vision Connector on SAP Cloud Platform.