The blog

ERP and PaaS

Introduction
The IT landscape within organizations (“On Premise”) often contains ERP-systems, such as SAP, to support core business processes. With the advent of Cloud Computing, organizations get the possibility to develop and consume functionality from external providers (“On Demand”) such as Salesforce.

This has a profound effect on the internal enterprise IT landscape because the architecture and the governance of the IT landscape needs to support end-to-end processes possibly crossing multiple environments. In this blog post the COmmon Reference Architecture (CORA) model is used to visualize this and assess the outcome.

ERP and PaaS
ERP is very good in delivering functionality to support high volume and standardized processes. However ERP is also associated with long development cycles and low flexibility.

When low volume but high differentiated and flexible functionality is required, PaaS solutions can be used to deliver this with a short time to market. This is achieved through a development platform wich often have the following characteristics:
•    model driven development shortening the development cycle by a factor of 3-4  compared to Java EE;
•    an App Store that contains re-usable components;
•    integration with other applications using open standards.

Integration points between ERP and PaaS
Because the On Premise ERP and On Demand PaaS are two separate IT Landscapes, two CORA models are used. When a random end-to-end process is supported by both environments, six integration point can be derived. This is visualized in the following picture:

cloud_integration

1.    Process Orchestration
How to prevent users to be confronted with different user Interfaces?

2.    Data/Process Integration
How to transfer process logic and data state from ERP to Mendix (and back)?

3.    Identity/User Management
How to manage users and identities in such a way that they exist  in both environments when needed and also prevent users to login more than once (Single Sign On)?

4.     Lifecycle Management
How to assess the impact of a change request onto the end-to-end process, but originated in only one environment?

5.    Master Data Management
How to ensure master data is aligned and available in both environments?

6.    Reporting
How to generate one report with data sources residing in two environments?

Conclusion
By combining On Premise ERP and On Demand PaaS best of both worlds (stability and flexibility) can be leveraged. However careful consideration is required when this combination is used to support cross-environment end-to-end processes. The CORA model showed the six most important integration topics to investigate further.

About the Author
Ir. Maarten Engels is working as an SAP solution architect.