SAP and IoT: cloud integration for smarter companies - Part II

59063956_mIn the previous post, Mario de Felipe, Executive Director at Linke, explained the context of SAP in the integration of its applications with AWS and Microsoft cloud services. In addition to entering the world of IoT and its adoption in companies around the world.

In this second part we look at the basics of the Internet of Things and how projects are managed based on it.

First: Data Collection

The basis of the Internet of Things is - as the name suggests - the connection of physical objects with a data-driven network. The communication interface is usually established via sensors, which collect and pass on information in large numbers.

Source: Amazon Web Services 

Although you see a dotted line in the above picture, you see two ways to communicate a device to SAP's IoT service: 

  • IoT Gateway Cloud
  • SAP Leonardo IoT Edge

SAP Leonardo IoT Edge enables additional protocols and offers an open plug-in concept to extend out of the box protocols and meet industry-specific needs for connecting other assets. It is also helpful in on-boarding a device. Primarily if the device does not provide the feasibility to transmit the data and further to secure the communication.

Source: SAP

Although SAP is still working with Microsoft and Amazon Web Services (AWS Greengrass) on edge interoperability, SAP Leonardo IoT Edge Interoperability enable customers to run business processes on Hyperscaler edge infrastructure through customer subscription to SAP Leonardo IoT Edge to get the docker container for Essential Business Functions Service from SAP Container Registry.

SAP Edge Services Policy Service then retrieves existing IoT edge device topology from Hyperscaler Device Management Cockpit.

AWS and Microsoft Edge are used to provide device connectivity, and device management functionalities, while SAP Essential Business Functions (EBF) Service runs as a docker container at runtime. Once an alert for abnormal device data is raised, EBF Service triggers the business process locally at edge (e.g. create a Service Call in SAP C/4HANA Field Service Management).

Second: The SAP System Landscape

The IoT market solutions and solution components is continuously changing as new, specialized approaches and best practices are developed with each pilot project. It is essential to find a way for your own company to avoid silos and integrate seamlessly into existing systems.

Spoken for the SAP world: SAP Leonardo IoT, SAP Leonardo IoT Application Enablement, SAP MII, SAP Plant Connectivity, and SAP Digital Manufacturing Cloud - the list can be expanded individually for every company with needs on digital manufacturing in such a way that continuity between the top floor and shop floor is guaranteed. But there is one new product gaining popularity, SAP Manufacturing Execution.

SAP Manufacturing Execution is indeed a very robust product. It's an add-on to S/4HANA with all the advantages that this brings in efficiency and agility. If a customer is planning SAP's view on the production control system, SAP ME must be on the list.

ME includes IoT connection through SAP Cloud's "SAP Asset Intelligence Network" (AIN), one of the applications included in the SAP Leonardo IoT portfolio's Connected Assets pillar, AIN provides a secure cloud-based information exchange for equipment manufacturers, operators and maintenance providers in asset-intensive industries. We won't get into details of SAP's Digital Twin. Later, as we introduce SAP Predictive Maintenance and Service and the SAP Asset Intelligence Network, which can be connected to Predictive Engineering Insights and extended.

Customers that have built robust solutions on SAP Plant Maintenance (PM), Materials Management (MM) or Inventory Management (IM) can extend the functionality to the edge computing using the Essential Business Functions Service for ERP and S/4HANA, AIN.

Source: SAP


Essential Business Functions Service provides business context data and transactions from ERP systems and S/4HANA in the cloud or on premise at the edge and AIN in both structured and unstructured data.

Then, SAP customers with powerful ERP applications for the SAP Business Suite or S/4HANA can create applications on the edge, all within the Plant Maintenance (PM), Inventory Management (IM), Materials Management (MM), and Environment Health and Safety Management (EHS) modules of SAP.

Essential Business Functions Service is not only an add-on on ERP or S/4HANA, it also requires a Synchronization server (MobiLink server for two way data synchronization between the Edge and the Core) and the Edge database and edge web server (for access of business data at the Edge) using SQL Anywhere with MobiLink client. That is a database server running on the edge (remote site) as a distributed data store (remote database) through staging tables in a central consolidated database at the core.

At the “System of Record”, the ABAP programs execute in regularly scheduled jobs to populate the exchange or staging tables at the core. The data in the staging tables is synchronized with data at the edge databases, using the synchronization server. Applications at the edge location can use REST services that interact with data in the edge database.

Source: SAP

From that image, SAP offers its device management and connectivity component, SAP Cloud Platform Internet of Things (IoT Service). It also provides interoperability with device management and connectivity components of other cloud offers such as Amazon and Microsoft. So, technically speaking, SAP Leonardo IoT integrates agnostically with leading IoT device management and connectivity solutions.

In case of Amazon Web Services, the mapping between the AWS IoT Core device model and SAP IoT Thing Model is based on the Alternate ID of the thing in SAP Leonardo IoT. Telemetry data is normalized and routed from AWS IoT Core to an externalized MQTT SAP IoT end-point. The Leonardo ingestion pipeline (based on Spark and Kafka as the Broker) reads telemetry data, performs mapping to thing model, data validation, and stores it in the time series store using SAP HANA (hot), Cassandra (warm) and Amazon S3 (Cold).

Source: SAP

Third: The Network

The adoption of IoT grows related to the primary usage of blockchain services. When it comes to protection against manipulation when transmitting data, IoT and blockchain must work together. This creates use cases that make the transportation of sensitive goods safer, for example. Not only blockchain, but other IT megatrends can also be combined with applications from the Internet of Things to achieve a holistic approach. Analysis functions from the field of big data, machine learning and machine-to-machine communication from the field of AI (Artificial Intelligence) or the control of the systems via mobile voice input are also connected technologies that the industry is adopting rapidly.

Thus, companies that are planning IoT projects can increase the momentum by networking the various digital transformation initiatives in their home and striving to integrate all activities right from the start.

The maxim is not one-dimensional, but multidimensional when it comes to planning and implementing an Internet of Things strategy. Companies must ensure that new solutions become a driver for growth and profitability; thus, far-sightedness and deep networking its's a must.

To know more about SAP’s POV about IoT in the cloud-to-cloud, check out this document.

Thinking of deploying your SAP systems on AWS cloud? Download this free whitepaper to know how you can optimize your costs on AWS cloud.

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