In order for your enterprise to function effectively, it is vital to achieve an optimal information management process. That is why the Hybris Data Hub was developed, offering a solution to urgent problems for many companies. In this article, we will concentrate on revealing the concept of SAP Data Hub, highlight the reasons why this solution is useful for your enterprise, consider the architecture and methods of its integration. In addition, we will give you some tips that will help you install and configure Data Hub, as well as tell you about our own experience with this product using the case example.
What is Data Hub?
Data Hub is a high-quality solution for various kinds of data operations:
Its powerful information integration system helps establish the connection between the target system and multiple sources, in our case Hybris platform and SAP ERP respectively.
Structurally, the Data Hub in Hybris is distinguished by asynchronous data processing, which stores information locally until further transmission, for example, when the load on the server decreases. All packages of information can be processed asynchronously, which allows for greater scalability.
The data replication happens in both directions: product characteristics transfers from SAP ERP to SAP Hybris Commerce platform, alternatively orders are sent from the Hybris platform to SAP ERP. The data conversion in this solution is based on the XSLT principle: XML is transformed into ImpEx — the Hybris internal format — through the XSL description, which allows you to convert XML to any format. Information is replicated in two processes:
inbound process (ERP sends XML files to SAP Hybris, converting to ImpEx);
outbound process (SAP Hybris sends ImpEx files to ERP, transforming into XML).
Having learned about the technical capabilities of this product, let’s dive into the practical benefits of its usage.
Why do we need Data Hub?
The Data Hub achieves connection establishment between the Hybris and ERP systems. Even though it can be optimized between SAP Hybris and any other ERP, this solution will be your best choice for integration if you have SAP Commerce. The reason is that the synchronous SAP model seamlessly interacts with the asynchronous Data Hub.
SAP Hybris Data Hub is used for providing opportunities that facilitate working with information for your enterprise in several steps:
asynchronous use of data allows you to achieve a delicate process of operating with resources without loading the server and minimizing the likelihood of its crash;
first-class citizen IDoc, simplifying the work with a traditionally complex language, thanks to the ability of SAP Hybris platform to parse and use IDoc-type files;
creation of data pipelines for high-quality information processing and delivery. This is done through code and library reuse, providing improved workflow.
A distinctive feature of the system is expressed in a simpler and more scalable approach to solve the data management problem. By giving a broad and detailed look at data landscapes, companies are given the opportunity to gain new benefits from information usage that provide you with extra benefits, such as resolving emerging data issues or making sure that it is headed wherever needed.
Now that we have an understanding of what benefits your enterprise will get when using the SAP Data Hub, let’s look under its hood in more detail and examine the components that make this solution work.
SAP Hybris Data Hub architecture
If we disassemble it under a magnifying glass of technical analysis, we will see a platform-agnostic solution with a set of extensions familiar to every user of SAP Commerce: protocols, integrations, models, etc. These plugins are essentially separate applications hosted on the Tomcat server, which also houses the core of the product.
The core itself is built around the Java Spring Framework. The peculiarity of Java is that it uses all the resources of the processor, which means that with an 8-core processor, Spring’s multithreading will provide work eight times faster. Such Spring-based nature results in a large Java dependency: many tools require knowledge of this language, such as Apache Tomcat, JDK, and Moven. This means that developers who are not experienced enough in Java will face great difficulties in installing and configuring the product.
The integration of information in the Data Hub architecture in Hybris takes place within three main processes:
- The load stage begins by loading data into the Data Hub using the inbound extension. Then the program transforms the received information into raw items, which continue the integration process.
- During the composition process, raw items go through grouping and filtering, which reduces the number of information blocks to process, becoming canonical items.
- Throughout the publication phase, the canonical items are converted into the target one. The Data Hub then sends the target items to the target system for publication using the outbound extension, which is the final touch of integration.
The capabilities of the solution are fully revealed when synergized with SAP ERP. Let’s talk about how to integrate it with the Hybris Platform and SAP ERP correctly and easily.
SAP Hybris Data Hub integration
The peculiarity of the interaction of the Data Hub with SAP platform is expressed in the way ImpEx scripts are submitted to SAP Commerce. During the Publication phase, when the system turns target items into ImpEx scripts and sends them to Hybris, the Hybris platform itself does not provide interface integration for running ImpEx scripts. Here comes the Data Hub, which has a special module for this purpose.
The process of transferring information from this solution to SAP Hybris Commerce is as follows:
- Data Hub sends ImpEx without data but with $URL to Hybris system;
- Hybris sends a signal inversely for each $URL, which is marked ‘delivered’ there, and then retrieves the URLs and requests data from the Data Hub;
- It retrieves data and sends it to the Hybris system;
- Hybris creates ImpEx, and extracts the ImpEx script.
The IDoc format, which is the main one for import/export files in SAP ERP, deserves to be explored deeper as it is used for asynchronous data transfer. Integration and replication occur as follows: SAP ERP sends IDocs via HTTP to the Data Hub, where the files are processed using the adapter and imported into the Hybris platform.
For asynchronous Hybris Data Hub integration with SAP, it uses the IDoc connector. At the same time, for integration with the Hybris system, a combination of ImpEx outbound extension from the Data Hub and its extension from the SAP Commerce Cloud will be required.
It is important to keep only those IDocs and segments which require Data Hub processing. Extraneous IDocs or segments can have a serious effect on its performance. Considered commerce solution doesn’t have any sample IDocs. Also, it is not straightforward to find sample IDocs on the Internet just to perform a test run of Data Hub out of the box integration. You need to configure your SAP ERP and SAP Commerce for a test run.
In general, the configuration of IDocs can be considered as XML + Data Hub + Spring. It is especially worth noting the importance of maintaining only those IDocs that are required to process the Data Hub since extra segments can seriously worsen its performance.
The installation and configuration of the product can cause difficulties for specialists unfamiliar with it, so we will give some valuable tips on the integration.
Tips and tricks
- Update content timely
- Do not confuse users in the SAP account and in Hybris
- Backups necessity
Set prompt updates for products and accounts to reduce the load on the server. The best option would be to update products once an hour and accounts once a day — a golden mean for update frequency.
The fact is that SAP Accounts (accounts IDocs) in SAP ERP are B2B units in Hybris platform, while SAP Contact Person (address IDocs) are B2B users in Hybris. Otherwise, there may be a misunderstanding that will lead to errors.
Backups will help you identify problems if something is not processed or sent during the integration process. This can happen, for example, while Data Hub is overloaded.
This is not a complete list of tips and hints for installing and configuring the SAP Data Hub. Experienced development teams are equipped with the necessary knowledge and dexterity to work with this solution, so we recommend you turn to trusted companies like Aimprosoft to achieve the best results in integrating such product.
Let’s examine how to integrate SAP ERP via Data Hub in practice. Our case of one of the largest US manufacturers and resellers of car equipment and supplies will serve as a helpful example.
Aimprosoft’s main goal was to increase car selling by migrating from SAP MDM and integrating SAP ERP. Within this system, SAP Commerce and Hybris interacted with each other in real-time and allowed you to see synchronized prices and custom meters in one place. For this purpose, SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) was provided to obtain online prices from ERP. As a result, the B2B website remained on Hybris 5.7, but all content (orders, products, prices, etc.) were processed from SAP ERP with Data Hub.
Its meaning in the context of this case was revealed in reducing the load on the server. The customer’s website is having difficulty with corporate discounts since you had to call the webserver in real-time from Hybris. Developers forced to exclude products, accounts, and other content synchronously from the Data Hub while the prices were extracted only in real-time.
Also, it helped us cope with another complexity. The client’s IDocs were customized, which is why cards were tied to the company. Using the Data Hub, Aimprosoft specialists configured it and SAP Hybris Commerce, which allowed us to save tokenized cards so that they were available to all users in the company.
This is just one of many examples of our work with this solution. Aimprosoft specialists got their hands on the SAP Hybris Data Hub integration and operations on the most global scale. For example, in the GE e-catalog project, we migrated 12 million products via Data Hub, and we truly believe that our highest scores are ahead.
The more SAP native solutions you already have, the higher will be the benefit of Data Hub for your enterprise. In 99% of cases, we are talking about integrating the Hybris platform with SAP ERP, which means it is more profitable for your system to use its embedded assets.
Nowadays, we can see the tendency indicating the gradual replacement of Data Hub with hot folders. However, it is still popular among enterprises, which signifies its successful operation. If you want to share your vision on the topic or have difficulties with Data Hub integration with Hybris or its installation, contact us — we will be ready to offer you a helping hand on the issue.
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