EDI is both a trigger and a killing feature for many PI projects. Principally, there are three alternative approaches to implement EDI scenarios on NetWeaver PI: Custom-built EDI development based on PI standard functionality, add-on solutions from third party vendors or open source / community-driven solutions.
This guide gives an overview of the different alternatives and should help you to find the best solution based your company-specific platform strategy and EDI requirements.
Despite increasing use and acceptance of service-oriented architectures and XML-based standards, classic EDI communication still plays a fundamental role for the integration of customers, suppliers and external business partners.
Since PI doesn't comprise EDI adapters and content as part of the SAP standard functionality, this article should give an overview of the different approaches to implement EDI on basis of SAP NetWeaver PI. The overview will mainly focus on solutions for EDIFACT, ANSI X.12 and their industry subsets as they are the most widely used classic EDI standards. Apart from implementing EDI scenarios in your internal PI environment, the usage of a different EDI platform or outsourcing to external EDI providers / B2B networks are also valid alternatives to be taken into consideration. As the decision about own implementation versus outsourcing is own specific topic, this article wants to focus on the different approaches to implement EDI on your company's PI environment.
The SAP standard doesn't offer specific functionality for EDIFACT and ANSI X.12 conversion. The first approach is to map EDI message structures directly in PI mappings. As graphical and XSLT mappings are focused on mappings between XML structures, they have their restrictions in creating and accessing "flat" and complex EDIFACT and ANSI X.12 structures, so that the best approach is usually a Java mapping. Due to its high degree of hardcoded conversion logic and limited reuse, this alternative should only taken into consideration if you have only a very small number of EDI interfaces with limited complexity.
Apart from the message structures, your EDI partners usually need to connect via specific EDI protocols like X.400, AS2, OFTP or FTAM, which is not covered by the PI adapters delivered in SAP standard. Considering the development effort, specific expertise in the XI Adapter Framework and adjustments for new PI support packages and releases, building an EDI adapter on project basis is usually no reasonable alternative for most companies. Other option is to use other EDI tools for the transmission and integrating them in PI via message forwarding or calling OS scripts in PI channels. Crucial disadvantage of this approach is the missing end-to-end monitoring and the laborious error analysis.
This paragraph should give you a brief overview of the different solutions for EDFACT and ANSI X.12 from SAP partners.
The third option covers solutions based on open source. The community-driven approach offers developers and companies full access to the source code and the possibility to develop new functionality within the open source community. The source code is released and owned by the open source community, so that no additional license costs occur. Optional professional services and support are offered by software and consulting companies.
The open source initiative for SAP NetWeaver PI